Planning a fire pit before you build will help you avoid mistakes so you will have a safe, enjoyable gathering place in your yard that will provide many evenings of enjoyment. You can build a fire pit for free with rocks and a shovel, or you can spend money on it and make it as formal as you like. Proper planning will help to make your fire pit a fixture you can enjoy for years.

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With proper planning, a fire pit can be a useful and enjoyable addition to your garden.

Step 1

Call your jurisdiction's zoning office or clerk to check if fire pits are allowed in your area. Some jurisdictions do not allow burning of any kind.

Step 2

Find an area of level ground for your pit. Select an area that is clear, flat and at least 15 feet in diameter. You will want room for seating around the pit.

Step 3

Use the 25-foot measuring tape to measure the distance from the potential fire pit location to nearby structures. The pit needs to be at least 25 feet away from anything that will burn, such as a house, shed, garage, tree, wood pile or overhead branches.

Step 4

Use the garden hose to form a circle on the ground in your chosen location to determine how large you want your fire pit to be. A small pit in a very large area will look tiny and insignificant, so back away from the area and look at it from a distance to be sure you like the spot you chose. If you plan on burning large sticks and brush, you will want a pit that is at least 4 feet in diameter.

Step 5

Calculate how many stones or blocks you will need by multiplying the diameter of the circle by 3.14 (pi). For example, for a 4-foot diameter circle, multiply 48 inches by 3.14 for a total of 150.72 inches. If you are using bricks that measure 4 by 8 inches, divide 150.72 by 4, for a total of 37.68 or 38 bricks for a single layer of the circle.

Step 6

Decide on a budget for the project. If you don't have rocks available for the ring around the fire pit, plan to buy retaining wall blocks or bricks. The price for these items can vary from around $1 to $5 or more per block.