Monday, October 13, 2014

Easy (for you) DIY Fire Pit

A few weeks ago, Seth and I got to work building a fire pit in our backyard.  Here is our story.

We scouted out the ideal location in our yard.  

Seth then trimmed some branches from a nearby tree that were overhanging the fire pit area. Safety first, people.

Plan A was to follow this tutorial and utilize the bowl from our existing fire pit.

But we soon realized that it was a bit too small.

Onto Plan B: no bowl in the fire pit.  After laying out a circle of 13 retaining wall blocks, we used a long board and a level to check our base.  We dug underneath some of the higher blocks to get our base as close to level as possible.  

Then, we placed two more layers on top, staggering the seams.  (We used 39 blocks in all in case you are keeping track.)

And our fire pit was born.  Next, we used a hose to mark the outer perimeter of our seating area.

We settled on six feet out from the fire pit blocks and used some landscape fabric pins to secure the hose.

During our brainstorming phase, I had the brilliant idea to abandon the "easy pea gravel method" and try something fancier - flagstone.  If ever your significant other suggests a flagstone patio (especially on an un-level surface) JUST SAY NO.  I had no idea what I was getting us into.  

It wasn't until we purchased 2,000 pounds of flagstone, unloaded it from the truck, arranged it around the perimeter of the fire pit like a jigsaw puzzle, and began digging underneath the stones to set them that I decided we probably didn't really know what we were doing.  Cue the frantic iPhone searches whilst standing outside looking at this.

Cue the agony and self-loathing after realizing that we certainly did not know what we had gotten ourselves into.  Scratch that.  What I had gotten us into.  Laying a flagstone patio that will look good for years (i.e. no cracking stone due to uneven terrain) requires digging down 10-12", spreading two thick layers of gravel (tamping down in between the layers), spreading sand, leveling the sand, laying the stones, and using a rubber mallet to level each one.  Um, yeah. We don't have that kind of money, energy, or time right now.  Mostly time and energy.  (And you just thought we were young and energetic.)  

So...the 2,000 pounds of flagstone were loaded back onto the pallet and exchanged for quite a bit of store credit.  And plan B was instituted.  

Pea gravel.  Pea gravel is akin to elastic waist pants.  Or well placed ruching.  It covers all manner of sins (or belly pooches).  It is perfect for a slightly un-level surface.  It's inexpensive. The opposite of flagstone.  Do yourself a favor and choose pea gravel to begin with.

After deciding on pea gravel, we spent some time leveling the ground the best we could (don't get too crazy here because - remember? - the pea gravel will fill in any uneven areas).  Then we used this edging to define our seating area.

Next, we laid down weed cloth and used landscape fabric pins to tack it in place.  

After that, we shoveled a total of three scoops of pea gravel on top and used a metal rake to spread it around.

We put our lounge chairs in place...and then the fire pit area was done!

A close up of the retaining wall blocks for you...

(The base layer is hidden by pea gravel on this side.) 

Sadly, we've only used our new outdoor gem once thus far.  But this weekend, we have big plans to light her up again.  

Yes, those are marshmallow roasting sticks.  No fire is complete without s'mores.

I LOVE how it turned out.  It is the perfect spot to sit and relax on a crisp fall evening and I know we will use it for years to come.

1 comment:

Thoughts, ideas, suggestions...