Call me a Luddite (or crazy) but our homemade fire pit in the yard of our upstate New York house is just fine thank you. Sometimes after visiting friends with fancy outdoors setups and state-of-the-art gas grills, we play the "should we" game. But no, it's not us, and besides, it's fun making the fire and gathering around the hearth that is not much more than a lined hole in the ground.
1. Find out if you can:
Before digging one yourself, you might want to check with your fire department for the town's regulations on such things, though "No, don't build one" is not something anyone wants to hear.
2. Pick a Spot:
Start by determining a place in the yard that is safe, away from the house, or any structure or tall grasses that might catch fire.
3. Collect Supplies:
We collected bricks from a local give-away site, purchasing extra pieces of stone that were going for next to nothing at a landscaping place. And we all hauled rocks out of the woods- a fun family activity.
4. The Grunt Work (Digging your hole):
The hardest work involved: digging a hole about two feet deep and a little wider. We made the hole wide enough to line with the bricks, making sure to build up the area outside the rim too, to keep the fire contained. An old grill rack sits on a few bricks to raise the cooking area above the hot coals that rest on the stone from the landscaping place.
For safety's sake, keep a cover over the firepit once the embers have died away. A spark screen is also a good idea when just sitting around the fire. These are available at hardware stores.
Photo: (cc) stephen dann/flickr