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Building a Real Fire Pit- Garden Journal

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

When I set out to create my one and a half acre woodland garden I truly had no idea the amount of debris that would be produced! Much of this debris we simply piled to build a wildlife fence but the other bit needed to be burned. We thought what a better opportunity to create ambience within the garden with a place to have a winter bonfire. In an earlier blog I showed you how we built a more formal fire pit near our pool and house using an urn that was plumbed for gas. In contrast, this informal fire pit is something that anyone can build with little to no expertise and very little cost.

First, I went and selected some field stone that looked appropriate for our environment, which in the southeast is more gray in color. For example if you lived in the desert southwest you might choose rocks that look more ocher in color. Think about stones that look as if they could have been harvested from your site. About a half of a ton was necessary to create my fire pit about 5 feet in diameter and two stones high. I used the rest of the stone throughout the garden to assist me with water flow management. 1.3 tons of stone cost about $400 including delivery but you could certainly find more cost effective strategies or order less rock. Some mulch and stone companies will allow you to pick through the rocks and buy purely on weight without buying the entire pallet. If you are willing to pick through them, buy only a few and deliver the stone yourself you could get away with enough stone for a small fire pit for around $50-$100.

Once the stone was delivered I enlisted the help of two strong young 19-year-olds to help move the stone from the delivery point into the garden then I placed them around. Here’s how we did it…


We cleared the area of small trees and large debris and then swept back all of the leaves from the area getting back to the soil. Level the area as much as it’s needed but first off you want to find an area that is naturally as level as possible. Make things as easy on yourself as you can.


How do you make a large circle on the ground? It couldn’t be easier all you need is two large stakes or in our case a rake and stick with a string. Estimate the radius of the fire pit and make the string approximately that long when tied to both stakes. Have one person stand in the middle point of the fire pit area, and then proceed to draw around a circle using the string and the other stake.


Begin stacking the stones in a ring around where you have marked on the soil allowing the mark to be the interior of the pit. Try your best to fit the stones with the flat side up. Then, scoop a little bit of soil from the inside of the fire pit and place them around each stone making sure that each stone is level and does not wobble. Next, repeat the process with stones placed with a flat side down and try to fit them together as best as possible so they are not overly wobbly.


Fill the bottom of the fire pit with sand and very inexpensive gravel. This just simply gives a nice base to start burning on top of and helps to seal the fire pit a bit. Then, light a campfire and sit back and enjoy a bonfire this winter with your family!

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