Pick a Spot

According to Portland Fire and Rescue regulations, your fire pit needs to be at least 15 feet from a structure or combustible material. As long as you’re in compliance with fire codes, where you decide to build the pit is up to you. Just make sure that you’re maximizing your space for entertaining.

Materials

Shovel
Tape measure
Stake (anything round)
String or twine
Nail
Level
¾-minus crushed gravel from S & H Logging Co (20200 SW Stafford Rd, Tualatin, 503-638-1011), $35/yard
Stones or brick of your choosing (Roberts recommends smaller stones: 4 to 10 inches long 2 to 5 inches wide by 1 to 5 inches deep). Try Heritage Rock (15903 S Park Place Ct, Oregon City, heritagerockllc.com).
Quikrete Mason Mix Type S mortar from Home Depot (multiple locations, homedepot.com), $4.97/bag
Cement trowel
Grate from Hot Spot Fireplace & BBQ Shop (11525 SW Canyon Rd, Beaverton, 503-626-4652), $70-$150

Lay the Groundwork

To mark out the area where you’re going to dig, drive a round stake or similar marker into the ground where you want the center of the pit. Tie a sturdy piece of string or twine to the stake, then tie a nail to the other end of the string, 18 inches from the center stake. Using the stake as a pivot point and the string as a guide, draw a circle in the lawn with the sharp end of the nail. An 18-inch radius will produce a fire pit with a 3-foot diameter, but you can make your pit a little larger if desired.

Flickering flames will add a welcome glow to all your outdoor gatherings this summer party season.

Next, you’ll need to prepare the floor of the pit. The height will be determined by the amount of rock you use in the walls, so you don’t have to dig a deep hole for the fire pit to be efficient. Roberts suggests digging just enough to clear out any grass, leaving a flat patch of dirt that will be the bottom of your pit. Pour a 2-inch-thick layer of gravel onto the dirt floor; the gravel will function as a drain to keep your fire pit from turning into a pond once the rain inevitably returns.