A Beginner's Guide to Building a Stone Fire Pit

by Allan Wulff, MBA. Ph.D. 06/12/2022

Evenings in the backyard are always more cozy with a fire pit. If you’ve been wanting to upgrade your yard with a fire pit of your own, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to build one. One of the easiest ways is by building a ring out of retaining wall blocks. We’ll go over the process and materials you’ll need for creating your own backyard fire pit.

What You’ll Need

Here are the tools you’ll need for this project:

  • Safety glasses or other eye protection

  • Level

  • Sledgehammer

  • Spade

  • Tape measure

  • Garden rake

  • Wheelbarrow

and the materials that can be bought at any home improvement store:

  • 1-1/2 yards worth of sand

  • 24 granite-retaining wall stones (6.5 x 8 x 14 in)

  • Spray paint (for marking)

The number of blocks and the amount of sand depend on the size of your fire pit. Use the prior suggestions for a circle with a total radius of about 9 feet.

Before You Get Started

Measuring and preparing a spot for your fire pit is crucial. However, before you even get out the measuring tape, call your local utility companies, fire department and/or homeowners’ associations. This will make your project and final product safer as well as help you avoid nasty fees or penalties for unauthorized building or burning on your property.

When choosing the perfect spot for your fire pit, be aware of nearby structures, trees and bushes. Prepare for flying sparks, powerful heat and wood smoke in all directions nearby. Not only is this important for safety but it can also make you and whoever joins you around the fire much more comfortable.

Building the Fire Pit

Once you’ve chosen the location for your fire pit, measure and place a stake at the center of the circle. Tie a 9-ft string or rope around the stake and use it to mark the edge of the circle, rotating around the stake. Use your spray paint to place markers on the ground for where you’ll be placing the blocks.

If you have sod or grass, now’s the time to clear it from the circle. Once it’s gone, fill in the circle with sand, using the level to make sure the surface is completely flat. Once you have the base set, start placing blocks in a circle. Depending on the size and number of blocks you have, there are different ways you can arrange them. However, you’ll want to have as little space between blocks as possible.

Build your second level of blocks on top of the first. Try to minimize gaps for safety and a cleaner aesthetic. You can build your pit walls higher than two rows of blocks if you wish, but consider attaching the blocks together with mortar or another adhesive to prevent them from being easily tipped over.

Using this basic plan, you can create a simple and effective fire pit for your backyard. There are many ways to customize and enhance the look of it once you have the basic formula. For added safety and a mini-patio effect, you can use flagstone or similar to create a ring around the fire pit for seating. No matter the aesthetic details, you’ll be able to enjoy a cozy fire in your own backyard all year long.

About the Author

Allan Wulff, MBA. Ph.D.

Hello and thank you for visiting! Selling or buying real estate is very serious business! I provide extraordinary results! Prior to real estate I was President/CEO of a number of area technology companies, Vice-Chairman of the INOVA Hospital Association and have been a long time member of the Association for Corporate Growth. With a broker’s training and experience, you get more than just a realtor agent. My negotiating skills and astute problem solving capabilities, honed by executive experience, have proved extremely effective for my clients in achieving their dreams and real estate goals in this current complex and fast paced market. As a long time Northern Virginia resident my experience will benefit you whether you are buying a home or selling a home or are a returning client checking out the many homeowner resources my associates and I offer. Buying a home? I look forward to helping you select the home of your dreams by taking time to listen to your needs and desires. Selling a home? My real estate expertise and many effective marketing programs will give you the exposure and edge you need to sell your home quickly for top dollar. Testimonials. I appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve you and hope you take advantage of the valuable resources I provide. Come back to visit often! I consider this community an excellent place to reside and would love to share with you my enthusiasm for the many neighborhoods in the area. I pride myself on providing unparalleled service and look forward to developing a long-term relationship with you. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss how I can best assist you with your real estate goals. Sincerely, Allan Wulff