For the record let me preface this post with short and sweet I am not! I’ve never quite grasped that precious skill. Thus this here post may appear to wander a bit willy nilly. If patience eludes you then luckily freedom is but a mouse click away :)
However, if you are the long suffering type who likes foraging for tid bits of useful information, then by all means proceed. I know that I’m always hopeful in such pursuits and am reminded of the old adage that, “even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while.” Referring of course to mwah! Because you dear reader, you. are. mah– vah– lahz!
Rock, block, and gravel. A fitting follow up to Rock, Wood, Chain.
At home, one way we try to reuse or recycle is by integrating back into the landscape materials we have laying roundabout the farm. Our old fire pit was just a bunch of stones formed in your typical fire pit ring. I remember how at family cook-outs small ones would find it difficult to navigate around the piled stones, and of the fear I had of an accidental tumble into the fire. A parents worst nightmare! Now, years later, grandchildren gather around the fire so we thought we would lessen our worries and upgrade a bit.
Oh, that large block of concrete pictured above was once, I learned, a man made cornerstone removed years earlier from our cottage when a new block foundation was built. It’s become an unappealing artifact sentinel to our home, and I think has finally found it’s final resting place at our fire pit.
After cleaning up the area, we leveled it some. The precise method around here is called “eyeballing” it! A method HH and I have fine-tuned over the years :). We also eyeballed the cornerstone, and dug out a hole for it. We made it deep enough to add a few inches of gravel underneath for anti-heaving purposes. I dug a trench and sloped the grade to aid in water run-off. Again another few inches of gravel for the base before laying the stone wall.
Slightly overlapping the stones ensures the integrity of the wall. I back filled with more gravel to help stabilize the stones, aid in drainage and in preventing the earth from heaving the stones out of place.
HH left me alone for this part of the project. He knows how much I love picking the right stone for the right spot. He doesn’t have the patience, and I love the mind drifting, meditative aspect so much more. It’s a win-win.
When everything was in place, we moved on to spreading a layer of gravel down before constructing the actual fire pit. There are two camps I find in ground prep. The weed barrier and the no weed barrier. I’ve come to my frugal opinion in choosing the latter. No amount of fabric weed barrier can stop nature from depositing residue and all manner of seeds in reclaiming it’s territory eventually. Sooner or later weeding will commence and up with the weeds will come bits of barrier. Ever wonder how a sidewalk can sprout weeds? And that’s a concrete barrier!
The fire pit. What’s wrong and what’s right? Nothing really wrong. It’s just aesthetically, I prefer a more natural flat stone appearance in our landscape vs. man made. But being frugally minded and aspiring to “do what you can, where you are, with what you have”, we were determined to use what was on hand. These concrete blocks and pavers we’re salvaged from our last remodel job.
We laid the blocks in place and with a flat shovel scratched an outline. We then moved the blocks out of the way and dug out the area about 4inches deep allowing for 2 inches of gravel footing and a 2 inch set below grade. The openings on either side of the pit were intentional. We plan to mount hardware to accommodate a spit or suspended rack for wood fired cooking so we cut a block in two creating the openings. FYI, you can easily cut one of these hollow blocks in two as we did by scoring it with a screwdriver and giving it a good whack with a hammer or mallet. Ideally it should break in two equal pieces. Lastly, we mortared the pavers on top to cover the holes in the blocks. Now the grand-kids can sit around the fire pit, their rambunctious feet propped up on the ledge, with a few precious inches of clearance from the fire. And an almost nightmare free zone for Grandma!
P.S. Did you notice the little brier runners eager to re-claim. Hmmm…. You gotta love it!