Preparing a Safe Spot for Your Fire Pit
Once you’ve decided to go with a fire pit (or another warm-up-the-outdoors product), you will need to prepare a spot for it. Making a perfect location is partly a matter of aesthetics and convenience but also one of safety. These considerations might even influence your choice of product, so we encourage you to think it through!
Your choice of a spot may be wide open if you have a large property, or you may be confined to a patio or a corner of your yard.
First, Know Your Local Regulations!
Burning regulations vary widely from one area of the country to another, so before you buy any kind of fire pit, do your research! Some municipalities have bans on even very small patio-style burn pits. If you haven’t done so already, find out what rules and regulations you need to abide by.
Clear the Land
Many people enjoy using a fire pit in a relatively remote area—a camping spot or a clearing in the woods away from their home. If you need to clear an area of trees, saplings, brush, or other vegetation you can also look at the task as an opportunity to harvest fuel for your fire pit.
If you are felling trees or removing branches that would otherwise overhang the burn pit area, consider a chainsaw and logging tools to take them down. Depending on the size of the wood you take down, you may need a log splitter or manual splitting tools to split them up with. If you want to store wood near your pit for easy access a wood storage rack will keep it organized and promote good seasoning. If the wood won’t be used up quickly, adding a tarp can protect it from snow and rain.
Prepare the Ground Surface
Once cleared of vegetation, it’s time to prepare the ground. If you plan to use a free-standing fire pit (which will usually have legs), this might consist of little more than making sure the ground is level and free of flammable material. But it’s never a bad idea to put down a layer of sand or gravel to create a completely non-flammable floor. Most patio surfaces are fine as is.
If you are considering a fire pit for a wood deck (or a composite wood substitute) be careful! A fireproof material needs to be used under the fire pit (a heat shield, or a pad like what you might use under a wood stove). Then, you should make sure the fire pit is positioned a safe distance from any railings. Many people mistakenly assume that composite wood substitutes are non-flammable, but this is rarely true! Do your research on any material before putting a firepit on or near it.
A fire ring requires some excavation for which basic digging tools should do the trick. A ring can either be recessed into the ground (a true “pit”) or built up with rocks or pavers that support the ring. Even with an “elevated pit” we recommend digging at least a few inches down to make a space for ashes to accumulate. You can go rustic or tidy depending on your choice of support materials. Add sand and/or gravel to the bottom of a pit to create a good, safe burning barrier.
Prepare the Surroundings
Any fire pit location should have a safe surrounding area. How large the area needs to be will vary with the size of the fire your pit will support. For grill-sized fire pits, the amount of room that you will naturally want for seating is sufficient. For bigger fires, the circumference should be expanded, keeping in mind that winds can scatter sparks. The bigger the fire, the greater the risk. Trim back all vegetation with manual tools or battery-powered yard tools. Regardless of what is under or around your firepit (patio, dirt, rock, etc.) you need to make sure there is nothing at all above it. Besides overhanging branches and vegetation that includes patio umbrellas, canopies, or any other object.
With a well-chosen and thoughtfully positioned fire pit you will have a great new hub for family and friends to gather around. Check back with us as we will add more and more outdoor living products to our collection. Or sign up for new product alerts and we will deliver them to your inbox!
Last updated: 7/1/2022