When the calendar leans toward fall, most people here in Jacksonville wouldn’t know it. The air conditioner is still running and we’re still in shorts and flip-flops. Even now that winter is on our doorsteps, the weather is often mild and pleasant enough to spend time outside. Still, something about the turn of the seasons instills that desire to sit by a flickering fire. If that desire is dominating your seasonal plans, here are tips for building a fire pit at your home.

Location

While an outdoor fire pit is a great weekend gathering place, you should still use caution when building a fire pit. Make sure you locate your fire pit far enough away from your home that lofting embers won’t land on your roof or in nearby uncleared areas. While 2013 has been a relatively wet year, the prevailing weather conditions in this part of Florida tend to be dry. It only takes one spark to start a conflagration that will consume thousands of acres.

Materials

While it’s easy to purchase a stamped steel fire pit from a local home-improvement store, constructing your own from decorative blocks allows you to implement your own style. If you are looking to coordinate with an existing stone around your home, local paver manufacturer Tremron has a wide selection of stones and accessories for your fire pit. Once you’ve selected your location, dig a circle of dirt out approximately four to five feet in diameter.

It may help to lay out your blocks first in a circle to determine the diameter and number of blocks you’ll need. The purpose of digging the hole, just 6 inches to 12 inches deep, is to remove the grass and topsoil.  This material tends to be damp and will hamper your fire-building. 

Design

You can use a circle or square design, but when laying out your pattern, provide plenty of space to allow air through. Without air drafting around your fire, you’ll have nothing more than a smoldering pit that nobody wants to sit around. Leaving large spaces on all sides of your fire pit will ensure there’s plenty of air moving around. At the bottom of your fire pit, you can put a small elevated grate.

If you want to accent your fire pit area, spread pea gravel around your pit extending six feet out. Or, you can construct a patio of pavers in a circle or square. Either way, you should have a solid surface around your pit to prevent your fire from igniting dry grass or wood chips. 

Precautions

Something to consider when choosing a location is the proximity to a water hose. When you’re done using your fire pit for the day or evening, make sure your fire is completely extinguished prior to leaving it for the night. Weather fronts can move through overnight, bringing high winds that can bring a fire back to life and make it bigger than before. 

A fire pit is a great addition to any backyard space. By creating a gathering place outdoors, your guests can spread out and socialize in a relaxing atmosphere. 

Image Source: Morguefile