Fire pits for backyard entertaining are increasingly popular in Australia where our great climate allows us to enjoy outdoor living in the garden year-round. Fire pit styles vary and they also come in different sizes and shapes – the good news is, fire pits are great DIY project!
In this article, expert landscaper Jason Hodges shares his favourite fire pit ideas, hints, tips, detailed advice and step by step instructions on how to build a fire pit in your backyard. We’ll also cover where to buy fire pits to learn the best place to buy a firepit.
Fire pit designs and styles have evolved and now there is a great selection available to suit every home and backyard.
When considering a fire pit for your home, its important to think about your entire backyard and how you plan to entertain – will it be used as a romantic retreat or fun for the whole family? – this is important so you can consider seating around the fire. Now, fire pits are treated as feature areas in the yard and designers can plan a yard around the fire pit, building the elements and selecting furniture all to work around the fire!
Pinterest – excellent for fire pit ideas in almost any application
Google Images – great source of visual inspiration for recent and popular projects
This gallery has great fire pit photos and project images to help with ideas for your fire pit.
Jason Hodges is a multi-award-winning landscape designer and DIY landscaping expert. Jason loves fire pits and regularly designs them into his projects. One of Jason’s favourite lines is that “a fire pit is nature’s TV, the perfect place to bring families together and make great memories”. We asked Jason his top tips for creating fire pits in the backyard.
Fire pits are great for entertaining family and friends, but some fire pits are much safer and better suited for families with young children and / or pets. While good safety practices are essential for every type of fire pit (safety is covered below), some styles of fire pits provide extra comfort, safety and peace of mind by creating a barrier around the fire and open flame. These are called Family Friendly Fire Pits, they are highly recommended and are becoming increasingly popular so that all members of the family can enjoy a warm open fire.
Family Friendly Fire Pits require both a steel fire dish and concrete fire pit ‘barrier blocks’ to provide a barrier between the open flame and kids / pets. When built correctly with a minimum of 500mm from the flame to the blocks, you make it much harder for young children to burn themselves as the blocks will not be hot to touch, where as a the outside of a steel fire dish on its own will easily burn and can cause injury.
If you have young children, a Family Friendly Fire Pit using concrete Barrier Blocks is strongly recommended.
Fire pits are great for entertaining and once built, they become an instant feature in your yard that can add value while improving your lifestyle. Have you considered all the fire pit benefits?
When installed correctly and used responsibly, fire pits are safe and enjoyable. Of course, as with any fire, it is important to follow safety best practice. In addition to the below safety tips, always check for local council fire bans and play by the rules.
For the best balance of safety and a real fire feel, build a Family Friendly Fire Pit with concrete barrier blocks around a steel fire dish. This style has become very popular as the barrier blocks are now available in decorative coloured finishes, so they look great while keeping loved ones a safe distance from the flames.
Recommendation: If you have young children and/or pets, choose a Family Friendly Fire Pit – you’ll spend more time enjoying it than worrying with the extra layer of protection (the barrier blocks). Obviously, fire has the potential to be dangerous in all instances – enjoy safely.
Fire pits are easy DIY projects and for those wanting a family friendly fire pit, we’ve put together a detailed step by step guide.
Step 1: Select a safe location away from windows, doors and overhanging trees. If you’re building on turf, mark the location of the pit with a spray paint and dig out the grass, removing the grass and approximately 50mm of soil.
If building on existing concrete, go to Step 2.
Step 2: Bring in a washed river sand and spread to a depth of approx. 30mm throughout the area you excavated.
Step 3: Using a timber float, screed the sand until level. Check on all sides with a liquid level.
Tip: For extra strength, you can use a mix of sand and cement.
Step 4: Lay the first course of blocks. If doing a circle, start from any point and work your way around, butting blocks up to each other. Click here to see how many blocks make a circle for the different block types. If building a square, use a combination of standard and corner blocks to set out the size pit you’re after.
Step 5: Lay subsequent courses.
For Eziwall, Versawall and other block fire pits, you will simply stack the second course on top of the first in a stretcher bond (brick) pattern where the block on the middle of the block on the second course sits directly on top of the join between two blocks below. Most fire pits are 3 courses high so repeat this step.
Important!: If using Miniwall, you will need to use a thin bed (2-4mm)mortar mix of sand and cement to “bed” subsequent courses on top of each other.
Finishing off: The barrier blocks are built, its now time to bring in the fire dish. Place fire dish in the middle of the enclosed area and you’re ready to enjoy you’re first fire pit!
Experts Tip: To cover the ground within the barrier, spread a dark coloured decorative pebble!
If you’re looking for a DIY project you can pick up from Bunnings in one shop, the video below shows you how to build a firepit with Eziwall Blocks.
Eziwall can be found at your local Bunnings store.
Fire pits that are wood fuelled are not recommended on timber decks. There are some fire dishes that are elevated off the ground and may be better choices for decks, however, there is always some risk when placing firepits on wooden decks. For decks, consider using a bioethanol fire table – they are more expensive but can be a safer choice.
Fire Pits are available to buy online and in stores. Bunnings fire pits are very popular and every winter they have a large selection of fire pit styles and choices. For fire pits, Bunnings are also a good option because they sell everything needed, including concrete fire pit barrier blocks, steel fire dishes, fire wood, starters and furniture. Landscape centres and garden supply stores / nurseries also sell fire pits and other specialty stores like Mitre 10 and Kmart often also have products available in winter. Some years, even Aldi have fire pits available in their special buys catalogue!
Fire pits come in many different styles and the type that is best for you will depend on a number of things. Firstly, do you require a family friendly fire pit with concrete fire pit barrier blocks? If so, you’ll want to buy a fire pit or fire dish that fits well and sits nicely in your block enclosure. The style of your backyard and garden will also impact your decision – many fire pits come in either a rustic colour or a black colour so always consider the colour in your garden.
Fire pits are quite basic, easy to install and with the right safety precautions, they are very easy to use as well. Most fire pits use either a steel fire dish of some description or a concrete block ring with a controlled fire in the middle, where the flame is at least 500mm away from the backs of the blocks. Family Friendly Fire Pits use both the steel fire dish and concrete blocks as barrier blocks around the fire pit.
In terms of operation, a small wood fire is started after the fire pit is placed in a safe, sensible location away from windows and overhanging trees. To ensure safety, a hose should always be on hand and a bucket of sand within easy reach.
Yes, in most applications, a fire pit will damage grass unless using an elevated fire dish that has space between the lawn and the base of the fire pit. If you are using a Family Friendly Fire Pit with Adbri concrete blocks in a circle or square with a fire in the middle, it is recommended that the grass is removed before hand. To fill the space, you can bring in decorative pebbles to spread throughout the fire pit.
While they provide the same things in heat and warmth, there are considerable differences between fire pits and fire places. While outdoor fire places are becoming more popular, typically, a fire place is referenced as an indoor solution whereas fire pits are for outdoors. In addition to the application of inside or outside location for the fire, another distinct difference is that fireplaces almost always have ducting in the form of a vertical chimney which funnels smoke to a desired location (outside, generally above roof level)
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