• In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook creates a cozy cold-weather oasis.

    Steps:
    1. Set a circle of pre-cast concrete blocks onto the grass. Select a spot well away from the house and any combustible materials.
    2. Dig into the ground 3 inches around the outside of the circle of blocks. Then move the blocks aside.
    3. Take a square shovel and dig up all the grass from within the circular fire-pit area. Save the grass for reuse later.
    4. Next, dig out the soil from the fire-pit circle to a depth of at least 10 inches. Save the soil for reuse later.
    5. To promote good drainage, dig an 8-inch-diameter x 12-inch-deep hole in the center of the circle. Fill the center hole with ¾-inch crushed stone.
    6. Line the bottom of the circular fire-pit hole with 2 inches of ¾-inch crushed stone. Tightly compact the stone with a hand tamper.
    7. Add another inch or two of stone, and compact again. Continue adding and compacting stone, an inch or two at a time, until the compacted stone base is 4 inches below the grass.
    8. Temporarily place the steel fire-pit ring into the center of the circle.
    9. Set the first concrete block tight against the ring. Tap down the block with a rubber mallet, checking for level in two directions with a torpedo level.
    10. Continue setting the first course of blocks around the ring, leveling each one as you go.
    11. Once you've completed the first course of block, lift the steel ring from the hole.
    12. Wipe off the top surface of the first course, and apply concrete-block adhesive across the end joint between two blocks.
    13. Set the first block in the second course, making sure it overlaps the end joint in the course below. Continue applying concrete-block adhesive and setting blocks to complete the second course. Repeat to set two more courses.
    14. Set the steel ring onto the top course of blocks.
    15. Now fill the fire-pit hole with ¾-inch stone. Level the stone even with the inside, bottom edge of the steel ring.
    16. Spread 2 inches of topsoil around the outside of the fire pit, then cut pieces of grass to fit tightly around the concrete blocks.
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
      Digging the pit and setting the concrete blocks can be strenuous
Ask TOH users about Outdoor Structures

Contribute to This Story Below

    Video Directory

    Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • wheelbarrow
        Wheelbarrow
      • pointed shovel
        Pointed shovel, to excavate fire pit hole
      • square shovel
        Square shovel, for digging up the grass
      • tamper
        Hand tamper
      • mallet
        Rubber mallet
      • torpedo level
        Torpedo level
      • caulk gun
        Caulk gun

      Shopping List

      Curved pre-cast concrete block, used to create circular wall of fire pit

      Steel fire-pit ring with cooking grates

      ¾-inch crushed stone, used for base of fire pit

      Cotton cloth

      Concrete-block adhesive