By Jill Morgan
DIY fire pit ideas are the garden project to get stuck into this summer. What could be better than chilling with friends and family, late into the evening, gathered around the flickering flames of a warming fire pit. With ready-made fire pits hard to come by, not to mention costly, it makes sense to design and make your own, plus you can tailor the size, shape and look to suit your outside space.
From upcycling water bowls to building a simple pit from bricks and blocks there are many clever ways to create a stylish and safely contained fire in your backyard. Wood-burning fires are definitely the real deal with their smoky aroma and atmospheric crackle but there are other options too for your outdoor heating ideas. Bioethanol and gas burners can both be incorporated into stunning surrounds to create hassle-free fires that need minimal cleaning.
DIY fire pit ideas are made for making memories, so why not try out a few designer tricks to make the most of the occasion? Create comfy – and practical – seating nearby, where you can lounge and savor the view, or find out how stash logs in the most stylish and accessible way. And don't forget, there’s also the important issue of how best to toast those marshmallows and other delicious treats to try.
DIY fire pit ideas: 13 ways to warm up your space
We've put together some of our top DIY fire pit ideas below, so you can get inspired to create your very own design and bring some much-needed warmth to your patio or plot after dark.
1. Fill a gabion fire pit for a stunning statement
Looking for substantial fire pit ideas that have bags of impact too? If so, this is the look for you. Try using an adapted gabion design for the focal point of your space. These sturdy wire cages, filled with rocks and pebbles, are usually spotted supporting roadside embankments, but they can make striking garden features too.
Available in cubes and rectangles of all sizes, you could easily create an angular design in the centre of your patio ideas, but we particularly love the elegance of this circular design.
Configured and made to size, you can fill it with an aggregate of your choice and line with a metal fire guard to protect the stones from direct heat. Just be certain to decide on the location of your new fire before installing, making sure you have plenty of surrounding clear space for seating and everyone’s safety.
2. Give a traditional campfire a go
DIY fire pit ideas need be nothing more than a circle of rocks or bricks laid on bare earth, so if you have a wild patch in your backyard we urge you to give it a try. Ensure the space is clear of any grass, plants or overhanging trees or shrubs. Create a dip in the soil where you want your fire to be and surround with bricks, rocks or building blocks.
Get your fire going by creating a pyramid of kindling over a central pile of dry tinder. Continue adding a few more layers of kindling, using larger pieces as you go. Once satisfied with the size of the fire, light the tinder. Add bigger sticks, then logs, once the fire is burning steadily.
Surrounding your fire with large logs – either as stools or laid flat for benches – will add to the atmosphere. A tripod and cooking pot makes the perfect centerpiece and is a very handy finishing touch.
We've got lots more tips on how to build a fire pit in our step-by-step guide.
3. Go for a simple and streamlined gas fire pit
Low profile by day but stunning at night, gas fire pits are the ultimate in discretion and convenience. Perfect for busy family gardens where the ash and charred remains of an open wood fire pit would be irresistible to little fingers, they still offer all the charm and style for needed for grown-up evening entertaining.
The key to a stylish DIY gas fire pit is how to position the burner and the fuel canister. Rendered block-built cubes and tables are simple to construct and can be designed with a largely concealed void for housing the fuel. Connectors must be securely fitted and regularly checked for safety but other than that maintenance is minimal.
This stunning design by Harrington Porter shows just how irresistible the simplest designs can be. The fire pit is rendered and painted soft grey to blend with the rest of the modern garden ideas, outdoor seating and storage. Plus, it's the perfect foil for the weathered brickwork, that glows beautifully in the light cast by the flames.
4. Build a budget design from bricks
Simple to construct but oh-so-satisfying to look at, circular stone or brick fire pits are a great option for cheap garden ideas.
You could go for a low-level design with just a few layers of bricks so you can gaze down into the embers, or raise it up to a slightly higher level so you can really benefit from the warmth. Sink a metal grill, fire bowl or even a section of metal mesh into the opening to use as a hearth.
If you go ahead and make your own fire pit like this, do remember that it's vital to leave a few gaps in the lower two rows of bricks for ventilation, which will fan the flames and help the fire to burn. Filling the base of the pit with a layer of gravel is also a good idea and creates a dry base for the logs or coals.
5. Stash logs under lounge-style seating
Love the smoke, crackle and pop of an outdoor wood burning fire? Well, you’ll need to be super organized to make the most of your space and save on constantly lugging heavy cut timber around to use on your DIY fire pit ideas.
These nifty outdoor seating ideas are the perfect solution. With plenty of room for lounging or hosting an ever-growing group of friends, it also creates a super convenient log store too. The pared back bench-style seating makes for a streamlined look and forms a dry and airy spot for your fuel, without encroaching on valuable floorspace. The effect is also visually stunning, adding natural pattern and texture to an otherwise minimal look.
6. Use paving to frame a fire bowl
If you're learning how to lay a patio, why not use this as an opportunity to add some drama to your DIY fire pit ideas?
Celebrate the pared-back shape of a simple steel fire bowl with a clever mix of paving ideas. This could be as straightforward as laying a small block of different colored paving slabs amongst a uniform patio, or outlining a central panel with a line of small pavers.
Paved circles work particularly well with circular fire pits placed at their center but for a more contemporary look try infilling a section of laid patio with toning gravel or slate chippings. The resulting texture and smaller sense of scale adds interest, creating the perfect backdrop for a blazing fire.
7. Create a stunning fire pit table
A perfect focal point for your outdoor dining ideas, a stylish fire table is surprisingly straightforward to design. Featuring a central gas burner set into a smooth, non-flammable surface, it’s great place for friends and family to gather round, perch drinks, snacks and enjoy meals too.
This design by Tom Howard Garden Design in relatively simple in construction but exquisitely finished. A mains supplied gas burner, in stainless steel, is set into a block built table with a 30mm granite top. 'The control panel is hidden around the side attached to one of the rendered surfaces, along with a cut off valve,' explains Tom. 'We built the base of the table from concrete blocks with air vents for the gas burner. The concrete blocks were then rendered and painted. Because of the tabletop’s large overhang – needed to get your legs under – we had to have a sheet of steel fixed to the top first to support the granite. The granite was then fixed on top with silicon and a hole cut out of the middle for the burner.'
You'll find tons more inspiration for your garden table ideas over in our feature.
8. Make a statement with an industrial-style fire pit
Stripped back materials and functional design have been hugely influential both inside and outside our homes recently, and they are the perfect solution if you're a fan of more rustic garden ideas.
The sheer strength and simple structures of many construction materials can make dramatic standout garden features. Along with hollow dense building blocks, concrete manhole rings and sections of corrugated steel pipe can all make substantial and stylish DIY fire pit ideas.
Often available from construction and reclamation yards they will safely contain a log fire, and thanks to their height guide much of the flying ash and sparks straight up and away from neighbors and any of your smart garden fence ideas.
9. Store logs and kindling in style
Wood is unbeatable for atmosphere – delicious wafts of wood smoke, the crackle of logs and the warm glow of the dying embers is memory making stuff – but you will need a ready supply of kindling and logs and somewhere dry space to store the timber nearby. Why not solve the issue by showcasing your fuel as part of your garden storage ideas and having it ready sorted into different sizes?
Choose from large scale frames that, once filled, can double as handy garden divider ideas to help zone your space. Alternatively, use several for a wall effect or try a modular design that you can configure to suit your garden layout ideas. Wood stores combined with bench-style seating are another useful option as you can position several around your DIY fire pit ideas to create a real campfire vibe.
10. Go for a simple DIY build
Even with the tightest of budgets you can create a nifty fire pit that will work perfectly with your small garden ideas. Stacking bricks four or five courses high, in a circle, square or rectangular is enough to safely contain a wood burning fire. Add in a grill or wire mesh grate and you have a functional stove.
This project by DIY blogger Kezzabeth shows that with a few basic skills you can build your own fire pit for less than £25 ($35). 'I created this little DIY fire pit with some leftover bricks, simply rendering the outside to give it a modern finish. It's perfect for this little spot at the back of our garden, providing a bit of heat on a cool summer's night and it's somewhere to toast marshmallows when the sun’s gone down too. It creates a lovely atmosphere and we’ve even used it for BBQs in the daytime, which is an added bonus when there’s not enough room for a full-sized BBQ.'
We love how this simple but stylish design has been combined with DIY bench seating to create such a cozy spot. If you want to create a similar vibe in your backyard, our pallet furniture ideas will get you inspired.
11. Cook marshmallows and more on your fire pit
Hands up who hasn’t enjoyed toasting marshmallows on an open fire? Surely there can’t be many who haven’t indulged in the simple joy of this sticky delight. It's one of our favorite garden activities for kids – the challenge of getting the outside crisp and toasty and the middle gooey, without turning the sugary treat into a blob of pure charcoal has to be an early anticipated open-air ritual.
There are many tools to try out there, from simple and sustainable bamboo skewers, quirky extendable forks to fancy leaf-shaped toasting forks where you can grill up to six at a time. Why not dial up the experience and set up a topping bar too – chopped nuts, sprinkles, melted chocolate and caramel all work well.
Want to cook something more substantial on your DIY fire pit ideas rather than simply relying on your best BBQ or best pizza oven for alfresco cooking? How about toasted sandwiches? Quick and easy to do with the help of a sandwich grill (there's a good selection at Amazon), you can safely create piles of delicious, melted cheese and ham sandwiches in an instant. Aluminum foil is another fire pit friend – wait until the flames have died down and add foil parcels of salmon fillets, topped with a knob of butter and herbs, before cooking until flaky (around 8 mins).
12. Pick and mix your own design
There’s little more satisfying than putting scrap to good use and creating your DIY fire pit ideas needn’t be any different. If you have a metal water bowl, tray or even an old-fashioned galvanized dustbin lid you can put it to use as log burner.
Think about ways of lifting it up to enhance the overall shape and impact. Safety is paramount though, particularly if you're including a fire pit as part of your family garden ideas – so always use a sturdy and non-flammable frame or plinth and make sure it's set on stable, flat ground. A plant stand, stone or metal planter or plinth made from bricks can all work well. The design pictured boasts stylish simplicity, but shows that even a section of metal piping or a concrete manhole surround can make an attractive base.
13. Convert scrap metal into a fire pit
Put old or discarded metal items to good use by transforming them into impressive DIY fire pit ideas. Old tabletop or kettle-style BBQs, steel wheel hubs, metal water bowls and even bicycle wheels can be used as a fire pit and will create a talking point too.
The basic requirements are to set them on a level, non-flammable service and ensure they have some form of ventilation to aid the flames. Sides ideally should be high enough to contain the logs or coals as they burn and the resulting ash too. The higher the container the more sparks and smoke will be directed upwards, rather than into the eyes of those surrounding the fire.
If you are lucky enough to already have (or spot) a redundant wood burning stove, why not move this outdoors and making it part of your outdoor living space ideas instead? You will probably have to add a chimney or short section of flue to send the smoke skywards.
What is the best way to start a fire in a DIY fire pit?
Firelighters are the easiest way to get a fire going but you don’t have to rely on those soaked in toxic kerosene. There are plenty of natural and more eco-friendly options to try.
- Dry pinecones make fantastic firelighters. Place in the centre of a fire pit, surround with kindling and small logs and light with a match or long-stemmed lighter.
- Nature’s other free options include grass, straw, pine needles and leaves – but they do have to be totally dry otherwise they will produce smoke.
- Spills or long, tight twists of newspaper make perfect firelighters. The tighter you roll the paper together and then ‘twist’ or ‘knot’ around itself the longer it will burn for. Avoid using magazine pages though, as these release chemicals from the ink and don’t burn particularly well.
- There are many natural fire starter products available too. Usually made from untreated wood wool (thin slivers of timber) and refined paraffin wax, they are odourless – so ideal for cooking on and will burn for around 10 mins.
What's the best way to clean a DIY fire pit?
Wonder how to keep your DIY fire pit ideas in tip top condition? We spoke to the team at Firepit.co.uk for their advice.
- Always leave the fire pit to cool down completely before cleaning.
- When cleaning a Corten steel fire pit, remove ash and clean with hot soapy water and a soft cloth. Rinse and wipe dry
- If you have a gas design for your fire pit patio ideas, they will need very little maintenance – keep the burners clean for an even burn and check the supply hoses regularly to ensure there are no leaks or restrictions
- To keep cast-iron fire pits looking their best, use steel wool to scrub clean. Distilled white vinegar and a soft cloth will help remove rust and you can always repaint and reseal to prevent corrosion.
Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. There was never a moment at their house when they weren’t weeding, pruning, planting or harvesting cucumbers or dahlias from the lean-to greenhouse. Her Grandad’s shed was a place of wonder, and she can still recall the musky smell. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey and spends much of her time writing about them too. A typical long-thin town garden it features favourite flowers along with the odd veg plant and the usual assortment of toys, bikes and… oh a couple of guinea pigs too.
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