Our last backyard fire pit was really, ready to be retired at least a season or two ago. The outside ring was beautiful squares of decorative ceramic but the center had rusted through. Since I loved the frame and the look - and it was quite sturdy and fine except where it had rusted, we decided when we took apart our old grill to bring to landfill, to re-purpose some of the metal sheeting to reinforce the fire pit. This bought us another couple seasons but the metal had again rusted through.
While looking at fire pits, fire squares and fire rings, I decided I'd like to go back to what we have done and had at two of our previous houses. A very quick, simple fire ring built from retaining wall stones. It's easy, cheap and classic.
What sealed the deal for me was seeing the Lowe's ad - the stones I wanted were on sale 5/$10. A trip to our local Lowe's with my truck and I came home with this: 33 stones.
Our simple 15 minute fire pit
33 - 11.2" X 4" Flagstone Retaining Wall Block
Do not place this on a deck or any other surface that is not completely 100% fire proof (obviously!) Ours was going to be built on our patio - which is paver stones on top of gravel and sand, on top of pure mountain rock.
Place 11 stones in a circle with the smaller ends facing inwards. The stones are not uniform in size so fit them together, flipping over and choosing different stones, so get a nice tight fit. Start the second layer of stones on top of the first, laying the first stone over a seam/crack of two below it to offset the second layer. Continue laying the second circle layer of stones just like you did the first, finding pieces that fit together nicely. Complete the third layer exactly the same. Now, you can use a rubber mallet - but I used the thick rubber sole of my Converse tennis shoe to gently tap each stone all the way around the bottom layer, then the 2nd, then the 3rd. Tapping each to lodge it just a bit tighter so we ended up with a nice sturdy structure. I believe some people use adhesive or glue but high heat and chemicals is something our family doesn't. We also like the ease of starting the fires and the good constant burn that having airflow through the stones gives. We finished the ring, started our fire and were roasting hot dogs over the fire within minutes.