Hubby and I readily admit that neither of us are very adept at landscaping or gardening. The first summer we lived here we were really focused on updating the interior and last summer we were barely here (and when we were, we were working on our bathroom reno - the "reveal" is going to pop up on the blog soon!). This year we originally had an ambitious summer to-do list but then decided: hey, you know what's better than weeding and painting and digging around, trying to repair our shoreline and remove our horrible dock? Making s'mores and watching the sunset!
But we needed somewhere nice to make our s'mores and do our sunset watching, because our old fire pit was too janky!
The fire pit is positioned in the center of our lawn, which I like, but having this crumbling fire pit front and center ruined the lake view from the house. Although we've used it a lot over the years, I hated that the fire pit was just plonked down in the grass because I was always stressing out about ticks. It was not a very inviting outdoor space.
We mulled over some fire pit landscaping options and decided anything involving paving stones or lock stone was silly because our lawn, in addition to sloping toward the water, is very lumpy. The previous owner had tried lock stone, but it just sunk into the lawn and grass grew over it. We needed something cheap and plentiful that could move with the ground. Enter: gravel!
Simple Fire Pit Zen Garden - Supplies:
- Dolomite Gravel
- Landscaping Fabric
- 2 x 4 Pressure-treated Lumber (We Used Eight, 6 Foot Lengths)
- Scrap Lumber
- Screws (3")
Simple Fire Pit Zen Garden - Steps:
First we created a little "box" out of 2 by 4 pressure treated lumber we found in the garage. Instead of buying longer lengths, we just attached two lengths together with screws and scrap wood:
We dug up and transplanted the sod (waste not, want not), and then laid down some landscaping material to prevent weeds from peeking through:
Then we hauled home two, 3/4 tonne truck loads of dolomite, which is a nice white gravel. Weaving my way through the trees and parking the truck on the lawn was SO much fun. Shoveling 5,280 pounds (!) of gravel was slightly less fun but my arms feel super muscley now so I can't complain.
You've already caught a sneak peek of the modern fire pit we built for what is essentially an adult-sized sandbox. I started a Pinterest board devoted to plants, exteriors and landscaping and started pinning a lot of fire pit designs. I stumbled across this pin and tracked it back to The Brick House (I miss Morgan's blogging so much!). Hubby and I both loved the modern look of her welded fire pit, so we decided to make our own - with one minor alteration to her design.
How to Weld a Modern Fit Pit - Supplies:
- Lincoln Flux Core Wire Feed Electric Welder
- Welding Mask
- Welding Gloves (or any Full Leather Work Glove)
- Coveralls (Flame Resistant is Ideal)
- 1/8" Metal Sheet
- Four 36" x 18"
- Three 36" lengths of angle iron, square tube, or whatever scraps, for bracing
- Magentic Welding Holders
- Rust-Oleum's High Heat Enamel Spray Paint in Aged Copper
We went to a local steel fabricator for the metal and had them cut all of the pieces we needed to size, making this project a LOT easier. That's where I got a little too friendly with a German Shepard - who did not want to be friends.
How to Weld a Modern Fire Pit - Steps:
To start the box, Hubby laid one piece on the floor and held the other one upright with the magnets - which are really, really handy. He tack welded it into place on both the inside and outside just to hold it in position:
He continued to tack all the sides in place until the box was assembled.
Once it was tacked, he laid it down and confirmed it was square by using a tape measure. Then he proceeded to weld the whole seam, inside and out.
Welding this fire pit was really easy and took so little time - no more than a couple of hours.
Before I show you any more, Hubby would like me to remind you that he's not a professional welder, and has not actually turned on our welding machine for years. I think he did a wonderful job, but he sees imperfections. I just see s'mores and sunsets, baby.
Instead affixing steel rods in the corner, like Morgan did, we added cross bracing inside the box. This adds some strength and ensured that the box stayed square when we awkwardly moved it from the garage down the hill to the fire pit. Jeesh, this thing is heavy. The process for the cross bracing was the same: check for square, hold the braces in place with magnets, tack them in place, and then completely weld them.
This is what the finished, unpainted, welded fire pit looked like:
I really loved the natural patina of the metal and didn't mind that it would quickly rust, but Hubby was adamant that we paint it. It didn't take long for our old fire pit to rust completely through, so he wanted to protect this new fire pit and keep it looking good for as long as possible.
I decided to try Rust-Oleum's High Heat Ultra Enamel Spray Paint in Aged Copper, although matte black would have looked sharp too.
I'd love four Adirondack chairs encircling our new modern fire pit, but for photographs I hauled out my Eames score. I could not restore the chrome legs, so I painted them matte black.
See why I love our modern fire pit so much? I ogle it from the kitchen window every morning and admired it while we canoed around the bay last night.
The gravel is working out perfectly. I used a rake to level it as best I could, and it was like playing in a giant zen garden. No grass or weeds have poked through and I love that I no longer have to sit with blades of grass tickling my ankles! I'm planning on planting some mosquito deterring plants around the fire pit area.
Yep, I'm pretty smitten with our modern, DIY welded fire pit. If you need me this summer, you know where to find me! Bring marshmallows.