By Nick Dziminowicz
- 51 RomanStack 8″ wall blocks (Home Depot Only)
- 3 Bags of Vigoro Pea Pebbles (Home Depot Only)
- 1 PL 500 10fl oz Landscape Adhesive https://amzn.to/3bnE9eW
- 10oz Dripless Caulk Gun https://amzn.to/2UofmSy
Tools You Already Have At Home:
- Shovel https://amzn.to/3aonpnL
- Tape Measure https://amzn.to/39li6Ep
- Rake https://amzn.to/2UCl0iQ
- Level https://amzn.to/2UD2arL
Tools that Are Helpful:
Let’s Get Started!
Well, this is something I never thought I would write but being stuck at home because of the Covid-19 virus has gotten me to shift my focus to projects there! In all my travels I have discovered that… I LOVE sitting by a fire at night looking up at the stars enjoying a cold beer. I’ve enjoyed the warm glow and crackle of a fire in 6 states already this year! With all this experience comes wisdom that I’ll share with you for free. Don’t let your shoes stay on the fire pit for too long otherwise they will melt, I have proof. Also, make sure you stay far enough away or expect your clothes to smell like smoke!
Anyway, let’s get down to what you came to read. I want to start by saying this guide is NOT for the experienced landscaper looking to put in a professional grade $500+ fire pit. This is an easy to follow guide for the beginner to install their own quality backyard fire pit for everyone to enjoy! I’ve been getting good use out of mine already (a place to sit and drink beer with fun people while watching a movie or two).
Let’s start by talking about the materials and tools lists above. I have added links to Amazon.com for most of the tools and materials I used if you choose to purchase there as well. Plus, it does help Frissonist.com out a little as I’ll get a small commission from them for sending you there. For this guide, we are constructing a 4’x4′ square patch with a circular fire pit inside the square. I created a square shape to make the measuring easier and, once this quarantine ends, I’ll go back to Home Depot to get some decorative stones and fill in the corners outside the pit to get it nice and level. You can get everything you need with just a single trip to Home Depot and have your fire pit completed 2-4 hours afterwards!
So first off, you’re going to need retaining wall blocks, any will work. I used RomanStack 8″ red wall blocks because they were the cheapest I could find at Home Depot and managed to snag them for $1.50 each. After completing this project, I would HIGHLY advise you to use retaining wall blocks without the groove in the top and bottom they made my life a lot harder. I used a total of 51 blocks for a three level fire pit with the top sitting about one foot off the ground. You’re also going to need some sort of gravel or rocks to line the bottom of the pit. I bought 3 bags of Vigoro Pea Pebbles to cover the entire 4’x4′ square with 1 inch of pebbles. I highly recommend buying some sort of adhesive as well to ensure the blocks are locked together. I used PL 500 Landscape adhesive and got the 10oz can. On that note, I also bought a 10ox dripless caulking gun to apply the adhesive.
As I mentioned above, I’m assuming you already have the following tools at home and do not need to buy them. However, if this is not the case, you are going to need to purchase these as well.
- Tape Measure
Of course a tamper and a garden hose will help make your fire pit look even more professional and make the job a little easier for you but are in no way required to have a great finished product!
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
First, you need to get all your supplies. Wether through Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, or your hoarder relatives backyard (Seriously, this is a thing) make sure you got everything you’re going to need. 51 8in Wall Blocks, 1 tube of PL 500 Landscape Adhesive, 3 Pea Pebble Bags, a Dripless Caulking Gun, Shovel, Tape Measure, Rake, and Level. If you choose, a Tamper and Garden Hose as well.
Start by measuring out a 4’x4′ square in a good location in your backyard and mark it off however you want. I used toothpicks I had laying around the house to mark my corners but usually I would use spray paint lying around. By good location, I mean far enough from your house that smoke or a wayward ember won’t be a concern and not tucked in a corner so it has enough space that you’d be comfortable setting up some chairs around it. I’m sure by the time you’re reading this you probably already have an awesome spot in mind.
Once you have your square marked out in the grass it’s time to start digging! I recommend digging about 5-7 inches below the grounds surface. Don’t worry about making the hole level right away, just focus on digging out the whole square first and we’ll check the level after we add the gravel. Once that’s done then use the whatever tool you have available (shovel, feet, tamper, etc. for example, I stomped all over it) to pack down the remaining dirt.
Now it’s time to add the gravel/pebbles. Pour all three bags in the dug out square, then level it out with your rake. Using your garden hose, or any other method if you don’t have one, add in a generous amount of water to the pebbles to help mix them with the dirt underneath then rake the hole again. You’re trying to make the gravel level since that will be the foundation you put your wall blocks on! This is the time you are going to use your level to double check your work and make sure everything is as it should be before starting to create your fire pit.
If your father was anything like mine, you heard this many times growing up, “Measure twice, cut once”. The especially rings true in this instance so hopefully you did that when you measured the hole and checked the level. In this spirit, go ahead and start putting the first layer of your blocks together WITHOUT ANY ADHESIVE to ensure they all fit as they are supposed to around the inside edge of the newly dug square. If you followed this guide step by step and with the exact materials I used you should have 17 blocks all fitting snugly inside. If you used your own materials and tools then hopefully you did your measuring correctly and they all fit. If not, it’s going to take some adjustments but don’t caulk anything or build a second layer until you sort out that first base layer.
Once you have your base layer down you’re welcome to apply the adhesive to the sides of these blocks to stick them together if you so choose, I did not. Next, you’re going to be putting the second layer on top of the first in order to build it up higher. Like we did with the first level make sure you do a dry run first making sure all the pieces fit properly before applying the adhesive. To make your fire pit more visually appealing, I would recommend offsetting the pieces from the bottom layer as shown in the picture. One by one lift the blocks on the second layer up, apply the adhesive to the top of the first block then place the block back down on top of it. Continue in this fashion until you’ve completed the entire second row.
Lastly, repeat the steps above to complete your third and final row of your fire pit! Dry fit the 3rd layer again offsetting the blocks then go ahead and apply your adhesive. Once you get this third layer on you’re done. Just give the adhesive time to dry and congratulations on your new fire pit!
(Optional) Step 8:
At this point, you can go ahead and put any little personal touches on your fire pit that you want. For example, I’m adding some decorative stones to the outside corners of my square around the fire pit to make it look a little nicer and level. You can also choose to add on another layer of wall blocks to make it a little higher or even put a decorative top block along them to make it look more finished. Maybe a rack to cook some food or skewers for marshmallows if you love s’mores. The possibilities are endless to customize this and truly make it special for you.
- 51 RomanStack 8″ wall blocks – $76.50
- 3 Bags of Vigoro Pea Pebbles – $14.94
- 1 PL 500 10fl oz Landscape Adhesive – $5.28
- 10oz Dripless Caulk Gun – $6.27
Cost of Other Items:
- Shovel – $25.73
- Tape Measure – $5.00
- Rake – $16.40
- Level – $5.99
I hope this guide has helped you guys create you own backyard fire pit! I would love to see pictures and any tips/tricks you guys found along the way that might help other readers build their own. Please share this across your social media and if you have any questions or comments reach out and I’ll answer!