Fire in the hole!


Now that our kids are getting a bit older and spending more time playing outdoors and generally hanging around in the yard, we decided it was time to make a few upgrades to the yard to make it more “fun” for them, and well for us too. Thinking back to our childhoods we both had fond memories of camping and hanging around with our parents at friendly campfire gatherings- something we have not really done with the girls. So it was decided- time to build a fire pit!

Like most other projects around here, the main requirement was that it be inexpensive. We set a budget of $100 and got started. To begin, we chose an open flat space in the lawn away from trees and other brush, then measured out a circle. After digging in and removing all the sod, my husband used a flat edge shovel and a large rake to dig out a smooth, level surface area. Next we went on the hunt for a tire rim to use as the lining for the pit, to help prevent the surrounding brick from overheating and cracking. Luckily, I found one for free holding down some old wood at my parents farm.

Next, we needed bricks to build the sides of the pit and to landscape the larger circle around it. I remembered a pile of bricks I had salvaged when we first moved in and had removed an old chimney and had lain under a huge rhododendron. I don’t like to think about the number of spiders and other insects I discovered in and under that enormous bush as I crawled under it and hauled out the bricks. We used them to create the first layered ring around the tire rim, which was sunk Into the ground about 3 inches. Sadly, most of my salvaged bricks were cracked and discolored so we decided not to use them for the more visible parts of the project. A trip to Home Depot found stacks of bricks at only 35cents a piece, so we loaded up.

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Next up, a few bags of paving sand to fill in between the pattern of bricks and level out the ground more.

I wanted something that would be fun and really personalize this area for our family, so decided to make our own concrete stepping stones to use to fill in the large circle around the pit. We divided the circle into 4 sections and each made 3 stepping stones for “our” sections. The girls thought this was really fun and I let them use their stones, shells, marbles, etc to decorate each one. We also each made one “handprint” stone and I made one with the year inlaid with small pebbles.

Making your own stepping stones is so easy: you need a bag of Quickcrete, some forms, plastic to line the forms, and water. I use old springform baking pans for making mine- the release on the pan makes it really easy to pop the dried stones out. Just follow the mixing instructions on the Quickcrete bag.

Once all 12 stepping stones were finished, we placed them in the paving sand and then added a few bags of landscaping rocks to fill in the entire area.

We had some old white plastic stacking lawn chairs that were beyond help with stains, but a few cans of plastic bonding spray paint gave them new life.

Now it’s time to stack some firewood, stock up on s’mores supplies, and enjoy summer evenings with family, friends, and some great campfire chatter.

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