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What You Should Know Before You Build That Backyard Fire Pit

Jun 29, 2017 10:53AM ● By Linda Ditch
Your backyard fire pit can be as simple as a campfire or ready-made fire bowl or as complicated as a permanent stone structure. However, there are safety rules to follow no matter the design. The last thing you want is to have an enjoyable evening end with a visit from your local fire department.

According to the state of Vermont, you can burn leaves, brush, deadwood, tree cuttings, and weeds from your property in your backyard. However, you are not allowed to burn paper and cardboard; tires and other rubber products; treated, painted, or finished wood; tarpaper or asphalt shingles; or plastics and other trash or garbage.

For safety reasons, a fire pit should ideally be located 50 feet from any combustible material. You’ll want to pay attention to both nearby buildings and overhanging trees. Plus, you’ll want to have a water source available.

Once you’ve picked a location for your fire, it’s time to decide just how elaborate you want the fire pit to be. First, clear the space of any grass and debris. Then, for a simple campfire, make a ring of stones or place a metal fire ring or fire bowl in the cleared area and you’re ready to go.

For a more elaborate, permanent stone fire pit, there are a number of how-to-build instructions available online. Places like Woodstock Home and Hardware on Woodstock Road offer helpful advice and direct you to the necessary materials. Be sure to allow at least two days for building the pit.

If building one yourself seems like a lot of work, you can hire a landscape company to do it for you. Jim’sHardscapes, From the Ground Up Landscapin , and King Lawn and Landscape can build your fire pit just the way you want.    

Once you have your fire pit, you need a fire. The elements for a good campfire are:

  • Tinder: something that lights quickly to get things started. Crumpled newspaper, small bits of cardboard, or dried leaves make good tinder.
  • Kindling: small pieces of wood that are easy to burn, such as dried twigs and branches.
  • Firewood: dried, split logs that you would burn in a fireplace are ideal.
  • Oxygen: fires won’t burn without oxygen. You won’t add oxygen to the fire, but how you build it will determine the amount of oxygen allowed to reach and fuel the flames.

To get started, light a small pile of tinder in the middle of the fire pit, and then immediately add some kindling to keep it going. Keep adding kindling until the blaze seems strong. Finally, start building a tipi of firewood over the top, adding more kindling until the firewood starts to burn. Another option is to build the fire structure of tinder, kindling, and firewood before lighting the tinder.

Finally, have on hand the fixins’ for s’mores. Now that says summer!


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