Although sophisticated fire pit designs can include elaborate features such as gas lines and built-in seating, simpler versions that burn wood or charcoal give plenty of dramatic punch to a backyard.
Building a backyard fire pit is easy for the amateur, requires no special tools, and is relatively inexpensive (about $600).
For a fire pit like the one we built, allow roughly four hours to dig the pit and between eight hours and a full weekend to install the retaining wall and surrounding pavers. Although you should apply concrete adhesive to secure the top layer of retaining wall units, you don't need to mess with mortar.
In choosing a site for the fire pit, look for or create a flat area at least 10 - 12 feet in diameter. Ideally, you should prep the area surrounding the pit (not within it) with a layer of decomposed granite, pavers, or concrete to create a nonflammable surface.
Small, modular retaining wall units, used to create the fire pit enclosure, are available at most builder supply stores for $1- $2 each. A variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of units provides plenty of room to use your imagination as you select the color and style best suited to your yard.