Inside: We made a super easy DIY fire pit for our backyard (with outdoor string lights!), and I’m sharing step by step instructions so you can build one, too!
I’m SO excited to finally share one of the first projects from our newly landscaped backyard…our easy DIY fire pit area!
When we were first deciding on which lot we wanted, I was drawn to space we decided on because it was the biggest in the development. Who doesn’t want to the biggest yard!
Well, it would have been nice to have the biggest yard, if it already came landscaped…since we’re the first owners of our home, we got dirt for a back yard and a huge space that we’ve essentially had to design ourselves.
The flipside to having a ton of space to landscape is that we got to pick exactly what we wanted and had room to install lots of fun things in our backyard; the first being a fire pit area!
This is a project perfect for those who just bought a new construction, or for those who have lived in their house for 20+ years. Having a fire pit in your back yard will add instant value when you decide to move and sell your home. More on that later!
Today I’ll share all of the materials we used, exactly how we built our fire pit area, and the total cost so you can get an idea of how much it will be to build your own.
What is the best base for a fire pit?
Our fire pit area is a 12′ x 12′ square with a wood border. We decided to build it this way because we were adding lots of other rectangle-shaped boxes around the fire pit, so doing a circle would have looked a little out of place.
We also decided to do a wood border to keep all of the gravel in a confined space so it wouldn’t mix with the mulch we have on the rest of our top level. You could do rock or not have a border at all, but I wanted to keep everything uniform with the other boxes we built for our back yard so everything “matched.”
Here are the items you need to build your own fire pit:
- 4- 12 ft. 2 x 4’s (cut in half to create 6 ft. pieces)
- 1 – 4 x 4 (cut into 4 in. blocks)
- 1 – 1 x 3 strip wood (cut into 4 in. pieces)
- 2 in. and 3 in. wood screws
- 4 -12 qt pails
- 2 bags of fast set concrete
- 4 – 8 ft. 2 x 2’s
- Hook screws
- Black steel fire pit
- String lights
- 2 – curved benches
The first thing we did was assemble the wood box frame. Originally, we thought we could just attach the 2 x 4’s to the 4 x 4 blocks out in our yard with our impact driver, because that thing can drill through anything, right??
PRO TIP: Drill 2 pilot holes at the end of each wood piece to make assembly a lot easier.
Another mistake was trying to build the box out in the yard. Once we brought the pieces into our garage, assembly was a lot easier because we weren’t out in the hot sun and my husband could prop the box up on some other pieces of wood to get the leverage he needed to drill.
PRO TIP: Assemble the box on a raised surface. Because the wood sits so close to the ground, it’s hard to get the leverage you need to drill into the wood blocks without some height.
And yet a third mistake (we made A LOT of mistakes building this first box lol) was not buying long enough screws. We started with 2 in. wood screws because we figured that was plenty of length to get through both pieces of wood. Well, it wasn’t.
PRO TIP: You need at least 3 in. screws to connect the 2 x 4 to the 4 x 4.
Finally, after we had all of those problems ironed out. We built four separate corner pieces and then took them to our back yard for the final assembly. The only reason we had to cut the 2 x 4’s was so they would fit in our car. If you have a truck or car long enough to transport 12 ft. pieces of wood, you can skip this next part.
We joined the 2, 2 x 4’s in the middle with the pieces of strip wood using 2 in. screws. Those are long enough to get through the 2 x 4 and the skinny strip wood. Our box was built!
Next, we transported gravel into the space using a wheelbarrow and rake to get it all evened out. We had gravel left on our property when we moved in, so that was a saved cost for us.
After we had the box filled in and level, we worked on the poles for the outdoor string lights.
To build these, we filled each pail half full with the concrete mix. Next, we added 4 cups of water and mixed the concrete together until it was wet. Then we inserted the 2 x 2 in the middle and held it straight until it was dry enough to stand on its own.
PRO TIP: Build the light poles on level ground so you can ensure they are straight.
Unfortunately, we built all but one of these light poles in our back yard so there’s one that’s a little crooked. Thankfully, our backyard isn’t 100% level so we were able to move the dirt around so the pole looks straight, even though it isn’t. Shhh!
After all four light poles were cemented in, we drilled pilot holes for the hook screws. You can choose to do this step before adding the cement to save yourself from having to haul all of the pails to the garage to create the holes if you have a corded drill like we do.
Next, we added the hook screws and took the pails back out to the fire pit where we added extra gravel in the bucket to keep them weighted. It’s super windy where we live and without the extra gravel, the poles fall over very easily.
The last few parts were easy. We hung the lights from each of the hooks, assembled the curved benches, and put together the fire pit.
We had to purchase battery powered outdoor string lights because our fire pit area is away from our house and there’s no outlet up there. That limited the type of string lights we could buy, but I’m happy with how they turned out. If you’re making a fire pit in your backyard far away from your house, you’ll likely need battery powered lights, too. The ones I found on Amazon turned out great!
We also bought the benches and fire pit. I wanted curved benches to fit nicely around the circle fire pit and after all the work we went to build the frame, I was not about to build the fire pit too lol.
The total cost for our easy fire pit area was $330!
- $22.2o 4- 12 ft. 2 x 4’s (cut in half to create 6 ft. pieces)
- $8.58 1 – 4 x 4 (cut into 4 in. blocks)
- $1.82 1 – 1 x 3 strip wood (cut into 4 in. pieces)
- $10 2 in. and 3 in. wood screws
- $37.44 4 -12 qt pails
- $10 2 bags of fast set concrete
- $7.16 4 – 8 ft. 2 x 2’s
- $6.21 Hook screws
- $58.84 Black steel fire pit
- $30 String lights
- $135.98 2 – curved benches
I’d consider this a pretty cheap outdoor fire pit, but you could easily save more money by using chairs or benches you already have. Since we’ve never had a backyard before, we had to start from scratch!
I am absolutely in love with how our DIY fire pit turned out and I hope you’ll learn from some of our mistakes when building your own fire pit area! We love having such a fun and relaxing place to entertain friends and family in our back yard now.
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If you have any questions about these DIY fire pit ideas or have any great suggestions for how to build a simple fire pit, let me know in the comments!
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