Entertain outdoors with this DIY backyard fire pit
The big backyard of this home had a lot of potential to be transformed into a tidy and appealing entertaining area.
And DIY blogger Melissa and husband Bevan were all the more keen to change the space to detract from the huge shed that dominated it.
“The previous owner was a metal forger and he built this extraordinarily large shed to work in,” says Melissa.
“We planned the arbour and fire pit space to draw the eye away from it.”
The paving had to be done with the arbour in situ.
For the arbour, Melissa and Bevan recycled the timber from an old pergola that had stood in the backyard.
Four galvanised stirrups were secured in the ground with concrete.
The posts were bolted in the stirrups, then cross beams were cut at an angle at each end and bolted to the top of the posts.
Cross battens were spaced evenly along the sides and top of the arbour, then supports were added in the corners.
The whole arbour was then painted white.
The plans for the patio were put down on paper and the site was marked out.
A bobcat was used to clear the area, spread a gravel base and level it off.
Bevan then marked out the perimeter with stringline to create a square boundary that would act as a guide for the paving.
With the area ready for landscaping, Bevan started on the fire pit by marking out the site and excavating the pit to a depth of 400mm.
A first row of reclaimed sandstone blocks was laid and levelled to form a sturdy foundation for the next layers.
Three more rows of reclaimed sandstone blocks were then laid with cement pointing in between. A fifth row using new blocks was added to finish it off.
“Bevan created this section a few days after our youngest was born and wrote our names in the foundation of the fire pit,” says Melissa.
These pavers come in three different sizes and are laid in what’s called a random pattern for a rustic effect.
This pattern and the weathered texture make the paving look like it has been there for decades.
“I just adore the look of these pavers, as they are pitted and worn on the top and along the edges, and they fit our French rustic brief,” says Melissa.
Starting in one corner, Bevan laid the pavers on top of the gravel base, cutting them with an angle grinder to fit against the fire pit.
He continued until the whole area was fully paved and then bedded the pavers in using sand.
The paving area was built on a slope, so the edging needed to act as a small retaining wall on either side of the patio.
Sandstone blocks were first laid at the end bordering the shed.
The concrete pavers were then laid across the site, with edging installed around three sides to create the garden beds.
Steps were also incorporated into one side and an entry was built into another.
The arbour was designed to act as the focal point of the area, so a climbing Pierre De Ronsard rose was planted on either side to grow up it.
‘I can’t wait to train this rose up the arbour and bask in its flowers for years to come,’ says Melissa.
Lilly pillies were planted in the garden beds around the edge of the shed, which will each grow tall enough to conceal it from view.
Pink daisies and salvias were planted in the beds next to the steps, and on each side of the entry, Japanese box was planted in two large recycled pots, repainted in charcoal.
A three-piece wrought iron table setting was placed underneath the arbour to complete the space and add a little rustic charm.
‘I have been enjoying sitting out in the late afternoon as the sun sets, relaxing under the arbour and just breathing in the fresh air,’ says Melissa.
‘In the years to come, I hope this space will make some memorable moments for us as a family.’