Learn how to build a fire pit and you can create the perfect focal point for outdoor entertaining. They're a valuable addition to the garden, allowing you to linger outside for longer to toast marshmallows with the kids or lay back and count the stars.
There are plenty of amazing fire pit ideas to get inspired by. But, if you don't fancy buying one off the shelf, it's quite easy to safely fashion one from stones or bricks on a cleared patch of ground. It's ideal for an impromptu alfresco gathering at home, or if you're camping at a suitable spot where you can have a fire.
We've gathered together step-by-step tips from firewood supplier Kindwood (opens in new tab) on how to build a fire pit from bricks or stones. But, if you'd prefer to invest in a ready-made one, you'll find the best deals below, too.
How to build a fire pit in 7 easy steps
From building the structure itself to lighting and then safely extinguishing it, you'll find all the tips you'll need for a cozy garden feature below. And if you're looking for alternative designs, there are even more DIY fire pit ideas in our dedicated guide.
What you will need to build a fire pit:
- Trowel (opens in new tab) or small spade (opens in new tab)
- Collection of rocks
- Tinder (opens in new tab), kindling (opens in new tab), and firewood (opens in new tab)
- Gas fire lighter (opens in new tab) or long matches (opens in new tab)
- Bucket of water (opens in new tab)
1. Make a clearing
First, make a clearing. Ideally, fires should be constructed on bare dirt as it's the safest terrain.
2. Dig a dent in the ground
Dig a dent into the ground where you want to build your fire pit – our best garden spade buying guide might come in handy if you need a new tool for the job.
The center of the dent should be the lowest point to allow for the best fire control and to act as a container for the ashes afterwards.
3. Line the edges
Use medium-sized stones or bricks and position them in a circle around the dent. This will help set a boundary and contain the fire.
4. Gather your fuel
Gather your tinder, kindling, and firewood and make sure it's dry, otherwise it will smoke when lit. Log store ideas are worthwhile investments for keeping fuel in good condition to use.
If you haven't bought any fuel, dry leaves, dry bark, small dry branches and twigs can make a great substitute.
5. Arrange the fuel in your fire pit
At the center of your fire pit, build a small pile of tinder then stack the kindling in the shape of a teepee over it. Keep adding more until it takes a solid structure, then add the firewood against the pieces to strengthen the teepee. Leave a space in the wind's direction so air can flow, and so you can access the kindling to light it.
Remember to always keep something to hand that you can use to extinguish the fire as a precaution, such as a bucket of water. When you're ready, using a gas lighter or long match, carefully light the tinder inside the teepee structure.
6. Add new firewood when needed
Once lit, it's time to relax and enjoy the flickering flames. It's the perfect addition to a garden party, whatever time of year.
Keep adding new pieces of firewood as the fire burns and the wood starts to disintegrate. Try to avoid overloading the fire as this will cause it to die. For safety reasons, always keep it well-supervised when lit, and don't let children near it unattended.
7. Extinguish the fire pit safely
When it's time to put the fire out, gradually sprinkle water onto it. Save the buckets of water for large fires that must be put out immediately.
As the fire dies down, use a long stick to mix the ashes and check that all the embers are dying and put out. Be very careful not to touch them with your hands as they will be hot. Once the ashes are cold, it's fully out.
Where should you position a fire pit?
Gena Lorainne, gardening and landscaping expert working at Fantastic Services (opens in new tab), shares her top tips for where to position your DIY fire pit.
'There are a few factors one must take into account when choosing a spot for their outdoor fire pit,' she says. 'Firstly, look for a large open space in your garden where the fire pit can be built.
'Secondly, make sure this spot is leveled and is as far away as possible from structures (such as fences and houses), plants, and combustible materials. Also, take into consideration the prevailing wind direction on your land,' she adds.
You could also consider building it within a social area, such as a patio – just be extra careful that there is nothing flammable nearby and that there is plenty of space for smoke to disperse safely. There are lots of fire pit patio ideas in our guide if you're looking for more inspiration for your plot.
How big should a DIY fire pit be?
A fire pit that's smaller than around 19.7in (50cm) across can make the fire difficult to burn, as advises the team at Wickes in their Youtube video (opens in new tab). However, if you build it larger than 4.9ft (1.5m) across, the fire can start to become difficult to control – so ideally choose a size that's somewhere between the two.
It's a good idea to use tape or chalk to make an outline of your proposed fire pit and then place a few chairs around the tape (in a circle), as Gena from Fantastic Services suggests. This will give you an idea of the best size fire pit for your space.
'Leave some extra space between seats as some people will want to sit closer while others are further away from the fire,' she adds. 'Plus, you'll need to leave some walking room around the pit so that your guests can easily make their way to their seats.'
Hopefully, you'll now see that learning how to build a fire pit isn't too tricky at all. However, if you'd prefer to buy one brand new, then you'll find some brilliant choices in our best fire pits buying guide, or a great selection of deals below. Want something a little more luxe? Then perhaps our patio heater ideas will have you inspired, instead.
Alison is Assistant Editor on Real Homes magazine. She previously worked on national newspapers, in later years as a film critic and has also written on property, fashion and lifestyle. Having recently purchased a Victorian property in severe need of some updating, much of her time is spent solving the usual issues renovators encounter. She is also currently chipping away at a back garden covered in crazy paving, ready to landscape it with a lawn and fruit and veg patch to mow and grow her own.
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