How to build a back yard in-ground barbecue fire pit

How to build a back yard in-ground barbecue fire pit

Building your own in-ground barbeque pit is not difficult. Before you begin though, you should first check with your local officials to find if you are allowed to have one in your yard. Many municipalities do not allow home fire pits. If allowed, there may be regulations on what type of materials can be used and size requirements.

Before you begin to dig your pit, your next decision will be what type of liner you want to use. The type of liner will help decide the ‘look’ of your pit. Rough stones will give a rustic look, while firebrick (required in many areas) gives a more contemporary feel.

Once that decision has been made, you need to choose your location. Make sure that the spot you choose is well away from your house, any outbuildings, and away from trees. You should also check with your local telephone and power companies to discover if there are buried lines where you plan to dig.

The items you will need to construct your pit are simple to gather. You will need:

A shovel,
A tape measure,
A bag of gravel or river rock,
Mortar mix,
A cement trowel,
Large, thick rocks or firebrick for the liner,
A level.

If you wish to grill over your pit, a grill rack can be purchased at your local hardware store or you can find an inexpensive one at a garage sale or flea market.

Decide if you wish to dig a round, rectangular or square pit. A round pit should be at least fifty inches in diameter, while a square pit should be minimally four by four feet. You need to dig your pit at least two feet below ground level.

Line the bottom of your pit with at least a two-inch bed of gravel or river rock. Mix your mortar. Begin lining the sides of your pit, either rock or firebrick, making sure to butter the exposed sides freely with mortar using your trowel. To ‘butter’ simply means to spread on a thick layer of mortar. Work from the ground up, doing one layer at a time until you reach ground level. As you complete each layer, wipe excess mortar away using the side edge of your trowel.

At ground level, you are almost done. First, finish off your pit itself by backfilling any spaces between the rock or brick and the walls of the hole with dirt and leftover gravel. Now you have two choices: laying a ring of rock around the outside perimeter or continuing to build above ground level. The choice is entirely up to you, although having a wall above ground will help to prevent accidents. Ground-level pits can be dangerous. Children and adults alike can fall into a pit if not aware of their presence. Higher sides can also help contain any sparks or embers, reducing your chance of an unwanted fire.

Allow the mortar to dry, at least overnight, but preferably a few days before first use. Then you are ready to use your pit for whatever you desire, from roasting marshmallows to a full-blown pig roast, your fire pit is ready for the challenge.

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