2 Things I Learned While Building a Fire Pit in My Backyard

2 Things I Learned While Building a Fire Pit in My Backyard

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Lisa Freedman
Jun 27, 2017

This spring was finally going to be the spring I got a fire pit. I've wanted one for a very long time (fire pits are awesome!) and my husband and I had saved up the necessary funds.

We found a landscaper (hi, Sam!) through word of mouth and met with him to make a plan. I know, we could have just bought a premade fire pit from Home Depot, put some chairs around it, and called it a (much less expensive) day. But our yard is actually pretty buggy and slanty, so we wanted to carve out an official area for a patio and the fire pit. I wanted a space off to the side that would be private (a lot of our yard can be seen from the road) and give us an awesome place to hang out — and make s'mores! — with friends late into the summer nights.

"How hard could it be?" I stupidly asked.

Sam, drew up a blueprint and gave us an estimate. This end result would be a brick patio (in a fun herringbone pattern!) with a built-in fire pit and a seating wall, topped with a bluestone cap. We were stoked and couldn't wait to get it done. (And we were glad we hired a professional!)

Of course, a few things popped up along the way. Here's what I learned during the process.

I hated everything about these!
(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

1. You have to speak up if you don't like something.

We wanted old-timey bricks to kind of match the history of our house, which was built in the 1700s. My husband and I discussed this with our landscaper and we all seemed to be on the same page. But one night, we got to the house to find a pile of these bricks (above) in the yard. I hated them so much, I almost cried. Why were they so orange? And what was up with that texture? We couldn't even turn them over and use the other side because the other side was concave for some reason.

I almost didn't say something, but I eventually texted Sam and asked nicely if he could swap the bricks. He hadn't started installing them, so we figured it was worth a shot. Not only did he say he could, but he also agreed to show us some photos of other options before he ordered them (something we probably should have asked for from the start). The next option he showed us was so perfect. The bricks were old-looking, slightly imperfect, and had this cool white powdery finish to them. Sam nailed it! I was proud of myself for speaking up.

Still not finished: fire pit, seating wall, grass around the patio.
(Image credit: Lisa Freedman)

2. It's going to take way (way) longer than you think.

Sam said the project would take five days and that we'd, for sure, be done by Memorial Day. I put this story on Kitchn's editorial calendar weeks ago, because I thought for sure I'd have a final product to show you. I do not. This is what it looked like in mid-June.

To be fair, this is totally not Sam's fault! It has been the rainiest spring that has ever happened. (At least it feels that way!) Sam and his team can't work in the rain. And they can't work if the ground is too wet. I mean, they could but the patio could easily be washed away. So between the rain and the drying out, this project is taking a very long time. I'm just hoping it's ready by the 4th of July! At least I can already tell it will be worth the wait.

What lessons have you learned while building a patio, porch, fire pit, or any other outdoor space?

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