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Designing A Fire Pit In Your Backyard

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You probably have pleasant memories of roasting marshmallows around a campfire and the wonderful conversation that ensued. Enjoy this camaraderie regularly with your friends and family by putting a fire pit in your backyard.

Choose the Best Location

Firewood is not completely solid. There are pockets of air between the wood fibers. These pockets create a whoosh that sends hot embers several feet higher than the fire. Locate your fire pit away from trees, hedges and wood fencing that could catch fire from the hot embers.

Adhere to Size Limitations

Some building codes limit the size of backyard fire pits. Check with your local code enforcement office for specifics. Additionally, they might require that it be set back a certain distance from the property line. Get all the details upfront and you'll avoid problems with code enforcement and/or the neighbors.

Prepare the Ground

You'll need to remove all plants and turf from the area. It must be bare to prevent the spread of fire. Spread the soil so it's level throughout the circle. The retaining wall that surrounds the pit needs level ground for strength and stability.

Measure the Diameter

Put a stick or garden stake in the ground at the center of your fire pit. Measure out one-half the diameter from the center stake. For example, if your fire pit will be 16 feet across, then measure out 8 feet from the center. Holding the measure in one hand and a stick in the other, draw the perimeter in the ground as you walk around the circle.

Measure the Inner Fire Pit

An inner pit of four feet is plenty of space for several people to cook on a skewer. For a 4-foot pit, measure two feet from the center stake and draw a line in the ground, the same as you did with the diameter. The retaining wall gets built around this line.

Choose the Wall Color

Retaining wall stones come in a variety of colors, from warm and earthy terracotta to the cool gray of medieval manors. You will probably want a color that complements your home. For example, if you have a terracotta roof, then you might want the same color for the retaining wall.

Stacking Stones

Manufacturers make "stacking" stones for retaining walls. The stones are designed to fit snugly as you build the wall. This is a labor-intensive activity, however, even with stacking stones. Consider hiring a contractor to ensure your wall is built to withstand years of use.

Paving Stones

Paving stones line the area from the retaining wall to the perimeter of the circle. They serve two important purposes. First, they will not catch fire if a breeze blows burning embers on them. And second, paving stones suppress the growth of grass and weeds that would damage the retaining wall. Paving stones are available in several colors and textures.

Contact a professional hardscaping company like Decorative Creations Inc for more information.