If you are looking for a simple project you can complete in an afternoon, a cheap easy fire pit may be for you. All you need are some softball to football sized stones, a shovel and a snickers bar for some energy.
A stone ringed fire pit is a shallow pit dug into the ground with stones lining the edge. These help to keep the edge clean and keep fire away from grass or other plants.
My favorite fire pits are always in campgrounds in public forests. They usually have a steel ring around them besides stones too. These are not the most attractive design. If you had a bunch of drunk people from Wisconsin starting fires and then falling asleep in your backyard, I think you would opt for function over form too.
Maybe you would prefer a more detailed and fancy fire pit. There are lots of ways to make those, but they require a bit more planing and work.
This one on the other hand is easy and cheap. Two of my favorite words. It is also great for the impulsive gardener who happens to have a few rocks laying around and an hour or two to kill.
Step One – Figure out where to put your cheap easy fire pit
Avoid areas with buried or overhead utilities. Mine were marked since a utility was doing some work in a nearby easement. You also don’t want any wires above it.
You should also keep it at least 10 feet away from overhanging trees, the house, and any other flammable structure. Also think where the smoke may blow. You don’t want your evening burning marshmallows to smoke out your neighbor’s second story bedroom!
Step Two – Mark a circle where you want it
The optimal size for a fire pit is around 36 inches inside diameter. This allows enough room for a decent fire, but still keep people close enough to talk. Of course if you are intending on keeping your fires on the milder side, you could go with a smaller sized pit, like I did.
Step Three – Gather or buy the rocks
You will need enough rocks to line the hole. To figure out how many rocks, take the width of your pit and multiple it by 3. This will give you how long of a line of rocks stacked next to each other you will need.
Granite stones work well for this. Avoid limestone and other porous stones as they will not hold up to fire over time. Rocks six to ten inches long are probably good for most size fire pits.
Step Four – Dig out a level hole
How deep depends on how big the rocks you can find to line it. You want your rocks to stick a little bit over the grass level. My hole was 4 to 5 inches deep.
Step Five – Place your rocks around the perimeter
Step Six (Optional) – Layer the bottom of your pit with an inch of sand or pea gravel
This can help to keep your pit from becoming a pond during light rains. It also makes it look a bit cleaner. I prefer to just let the ash build up in the bottom of the pit after a few fires.
If you really want to help keep it dry, you can also dig your pit deeper and add a 3-4 inch layer of gravel to improve it’s drainage.
While this is not all that hard or expensive to do, you can skip this step if you want.
Final Step – Have a fire in your cheap easy fire pit and some fun
Don’t eat too many marshmallows though. You might get a tummy ache!
If you want an even easier (though not cheaper or as cool looking) fire pit you can always get a prefabricated metal fire ring.