What To Put In The Bottom Of A Fire Pit? | Obsessed Lawn (2023)

A fire pit is an inviting addition to backyard patios and gardens, and a well-maintained pit will last for many years. When setting up an in-ground or portable fire pit in your yard, following certain best practices will allow you to enjoy your outdoor fire safely.

One of the easiest ways you can keep a wood burning fire pit in good shape is by adding sand to the bottom of the pit, whether it’s in-ground or a moveable steel container. The sand will insulate and absorb heat, containing the fire and protecting the pit materials. For gas fueled fire pits, only fire-safe stones should be added for decorative purposes and to cover the fuel pipes and burners.

In This Article:

Types Of Fire Pits

The precautions you take will depend on the type of fire pit you have. There are four different types:

(Video) Can You Put a Fire Pit on Grass? | Backyardscape

  • In-ground wood burning – These types of fire pits are made with a short square or circular stone wall to keep the fire contained. They usually have an inner steel fire pit ring or square insert to absorb the heat and keep the fire from dehydrating or cracking the stone barrier. The bottom of these open wood burning pits can be paved stone or gravel and should have a couple of inches of sand to absorb the heat from the wood.
  • In-ground gas burning – This type of fire pit usually has a paved stone base and doesn’t need a sand liner since the flames will be produced by a burner that is raised off the ground. These fire pits may come with steel logs or be filled with decorative stones to cover and protect the piping.
  • Portable wood burning – Movable wood burning fire pits are made of steel or another very high heat-tolerant metal. They frequently have legs to raise them off the ground, a solid base that probably has air holes for oxygen flow, a solid or grated metal body, and sometimes a grated metal cover. A layer of sand in the bottom of these types of fire pits will insulate and protect it from cracking and corroding from the heat.
  • Portable gas burning – Portable gas burning fire pits are also made of steel and are fitted with piping and burners attached to a propane gas source inside the unit. These usually also come with lava rocks, fire glass, or other types of stone for decorative purposes.

Should I Put Stone In The Bottom Of My Fire Pit?

What To Put In The Bottom Of A Fire Pit? | Obsessed Lawn (1)

Fire pits can be built on stone foundations to help control the fire. In-ground wood burning fire pits are either placed on paved surfaces or are assembled on a layer of gravel and sand, while gas burning in-ground pits are usually built directly on a paved foundation. Moveable steel pits, whether wood burning or gas fueled, are also safest on a paved surface like a patio but can be safely used on a fire mat or on non-grassy ground.

Stone and steel are the best materials to use for a fire pit, as these have high heat tolerance and will take a long time to be damaged by fire if they do get damaged at all. They absorb heat and won’t burn or rust when taken care of properly. There are several different types of stone that are used for the different kinds of fire pits:

  • Sand – Sand is made of lots of tiny stones and stone-like inorganic materials and is an excellent liner for in-ground and steel base fire pits. It acts as an insulator, a layer of protection that absorbs heat and distributes it evenly, so no one spot gets too hot. This is especially important for metal bottom pits since high temperatures concentrated in a few areas will weaken the metal. Most sand is either silica (white) or playground (tan), so what kind of sand you use in a fire pit may be based on your preference.
  • Brick and patio pavers – These dense stones have very high heat tolerances, and many in-ground fire pits are built on a stone-paved surface to control the fire.
  • Lava rocks – Lava rocks have high heat tolerance, and they help with drainage of your fire pit. They are best in gas burning units since they create an insulation around the piping and help evenly distribute flames and heat.
  • Fire glass – This tempered glass is designed to withstand high heat and serve for decorative purposes in gas fueled fire pits. They shouldn’t be used in wood fires since the higher temperatures can shatter the glass.

River stones and other natural rocks aren’t recommended for the bottom of a fire pit, and even as decorative may pose problems. They absorb a lot of moisture and can easily explode when heated up.

What To Put Around A Fire Pit

Depending on the type of fire pit you have, one or another type of barrier may be an essential extra caution to take. All types of fire pits should be in an open area, like the middle of the yard or on an open paved patio, with a hose handy. Chairs should be kept 5 or 6 feet from the edge of the fire.

For in-ground fire pits, sand around the outer edges will help keep grass away from the pit and keep the surrounding area from catching fire. Portable fire pits that are set in a grassy area should have fire mats under them and should be kept in a grassless 6-foot diameter. Moveable wood burning or gas fueled fire pits shouldn’t be used on a wooden deck or on artificial turf grass.

(Video) What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit?

Does A Fire Pit Need A Liner?

What To Put In The Bottom Of A Fire Pit? | Obsessed Lawn (2)

Sunnydaze Fire Pit Ring Insert - Heavy-Duty 2mm Thick Steel Outdoor Fire Ring - DIY Above or In-Ground Liner - 36-Inch Outside x 30-Inch Inside -...

  • Perfect size for gatherings: This steel fire pit ring can fit many people around it with a 30-inch...
  • Durable construction: This heavy-duty fire pit ring is made of sturdy 2 mm thick steel metal and...
  • Easy to assemble: This large 4-piece metal fire pit ring insert kit is easy to put together and...
  • Add a personal touch: Can be used as an in-ground or above-ground fire pit ring liner. You can also...
(Video) HOW TO BUILD A FIREPIT // DIY Firepit under $80!

Adding a layer of sand or another type of stone to the bottom of a fire pit is the only liner that the unit or burning area will need. Mobile units can be placed on fire mats to deter any dropped embers from catching on to anything, and in-ground fire pits will often have an internal steel fire pit ring to absorb the heat and protect the outer stone wall.

What Can I Burn In A Fire Pit?

What To Put In The Bottom Of A Fire Pit? | Obsessed Lawn (3)

The best materials to burn in a fire pit won’t deteriorate the unit. Only wood or wood-based products should be burned in a wood burning fire pit. The best wood is hardwood pine, which holds little moisture and dries out very well. Wood pellets and wood bricks are also good options to burn in your wood fuel pit, as both are made of wood shavings, wood chips, and sawdust. These dry materials burn cleanly, not producing extra smoke or sparks.

You shouldn’t add anything flammable at all to a gas fueled fire pit or portable gas unit. Only decorative rocks or decorative steel logs can be used in these. No kind of wood should ever be put into gas fueled fire pits. The intense heat generated by the wood fire can damage the piping and burners and cause a risk of explosion of the gas source.

What Not To Put In A Fire Pit

One of the biggest mistakes you can make that will damage your fire pit is burning things that shouldn’t be burned. Most flammable materials shouldn’t be put into a fire, particularly:

(Video) How to Keep From Burning My Lawn Under a Portable Fire Pit

  • Accelerator liquid – Lighter fluid, gasoline, and kerosene should never be used for a bonfire or in your fire pits since they are toxic and pose a risk for explosion, in addition to eroding the metal and stone material Always use dry kindling to start wood fires. You will never need a solid or liquid starter for a gas burning fire pit.
  • Plastic– Plastic materials (bottles, wrappers, bags, etc.), in addition to being toxic, will melt and be extremely difficult to remove from the units. Plastics should never be burned.
  • Treated wood or furniture – Wood that has been treated for construction or furniture will give off chemical fumes in the same way that plastic and accelerator liquids do and shouldn’t be used for fires.
  • Magazines or junk mail – Like treated wood, magazines and junk mail have chemical treatments like glosses and inks that give off toxic fumes and leave buildup in your fire pit.
  • Green wood – While not toxic, green wood is moist and won’t burn well. It will pop and smoke and should be avoided in favor of dry, dead wood.
What To Put In The Bottom Of A Fire Pit? | Obsessed Lawn (4)

Cooking over an open fire is one of the biggest draws of having a fire pit, but only certain types of pits should be cooked over. In-ground wood burning fire pits are the best to cook over since there is no metal or piping to damage with drippings or any dropped food.

Steel wood-burning units can become difficult to clean if there is grease buildup, and not all of it may be caught by the sand lining. If you haven’t put any sand down, the grease can be difficult to clean off and will corrode and contribute to the deterioration of the base.

How Often Should I Clean My (Metal) Fire Pit?

Regular fire pit maintenance will have your pit giving you clean-burning fires over many years. Sand should be replaced every few burnings since it will begin to discolor and may collect moisture and dirt over time. Ash should also be removed from steel units to prevent buildup and deterioration of the bottom. The ash can hold on to moisture, leading to rust and other corrosion of the metal.

A steel fire pit unit should be washed with soap and water at least once or twice a year, depending on how often it’s used, and dried thoroughly to avoid rusting. Steel units should always be cleaned before putting into storage if it isn’t out year-round. Gas-fueled units should be cleaned regularly so there is no buildup in the burners or yard debris that can catch fire.

Pouring water on a fire in a metal container can damage the metal bottom of the unit, weakening it over time from the shocks of sudden temperature change. If this is done regularly, it will start to crack and crumble sooner than later.

(Video) Fire Pit Safety Tips

When you’re finished with your fire in a metal unit, you should allow it to burn out and cool off completely before using water to rinse the ashes away. Be sure the metal dries well since any standing moisture can lead to rust.

Last update on 2023-02-14 / Affiliate links / Somes Images and Data from Amazon Product Advertising API


What can I put under my fire pit on grass? ›

Use bricks and pavers as a fire pit mat.

Putting concrete pavers under your fire pit will protect your grass. If you're using a fire pit on grass, it's important to use a fire pit mat. This will help protect grass from the extreme heat of the fire pit.

How do you keep grass from dying under a fire pit? ›

Before lighting your fire pit, mist the grass on the entire perimeter of the fire pit with water to minimize heat stress on the surrounding grass. Keep a hose or a bucket of water nearby for additional applications as the water evaporates. What is this? Don't go crazy with the water by applying too much.

What is the best bottom for a fire pit? ›

Using silica sand is highly advisable when placing the sand at the bottom of a fire pit for an additional layer of heat protection. Silica sand is also known as the most affordable type of sand available for purchase, making it optimal for those who enjoy plenty of fire year-round.

Do you put anything in the bottom of a fire pit? ›

What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit? You'll want to start with a layer of sand at the bottom of the pit, and then top the sand with gravel, lava rocks, fire pit glass, paving stones or even bricks for your fire pit. Alternatively, you can simply use dirt.

What is the best ground cover for a fire pit area? ›

Some great options to use for ground covering are small rocks or pea gravel. Not only will this set that section of your yard apart, especially for summer time fires, but it will also help reduce the risk of fire outside of the area from loose embers.

How do I protect my grass from a bonfire? ›

aEnsuring that you prepare the grass by wetting it and protect it with a fire mat, heat shield or paving slabs will reduce the risk of heat stress.

Do I need a mat under my fire pit? ›

A sturdy mat should stay in place under your pit and keep your area clean and looking new from any ash that may come from your fire pit. A bonus is that many of these mats are also heat resistant.

How do you keep a lawn from scorching? ›

If your lawn is patchy, you'll need to rake out the dead patches and then seed the patches you've raked, add some fertiliser and give it a good water. Keep the soil moist and do not let it dry out.

What is the best gravel for a fire pit? ›

Pea gravel is great to add to a fire pit area because you don't have to be precise, it's comfortable to walk on, and it doesn't cost much per bag. Cover the entire weed block fabric with the pea gravel.

Do you use lava rock or sand in a fire pit? ›

Fire Pit Safety

If burning wood, place a layer of lava rock at least 4-5 inches deep. Then place your firewood on the lava rock. For gas fires, fill the fire pit with enough lava rock to at least cover the fire ring. Do not use rock or gravel of any kind in place of lava rock; it can potentially explode when heated.

What kind of sand do you put in the bottom of a fire pit? ›

Fire-proof silica sand is an excellent base layer for a fire pit. Silica sand can be used as cost-effective filler to cover the bottom areas of a fire pit. Fire glass or lava rock can be added on top of the sand for effect.

Should you put sand in the bottom of a fire pit? ›

The main benefits of using sand are that it helps to soak up the heat and evenly distribute the heat throughout the fire pit. Sand is also great for protecting the actual metal bowl from the intense heat the fire can put out. At the end of the day, there is no harm in putting sand in the base of a metal pit.

What kind of pavers are best for fire pit? ›

Kiln-fired brick is safe to use in an aboveground fire pit. These bricks are typically fired to 1800ºF and easily withstand the heat of flames. Landscaping brick that's been kiln-fired is safe to use. Brick paver stones should also be safe to use.

Does an outdoor fire pit need drainage? ›

If your fire pit has a solid metal base, you will need drainage holes. If there are not already holes for drainage, drill a few holes into the bottom of the base. This is the first step to creating drainage. Now, you'll need somewhere for the water to go once it drains.

Is it OK to pour water on a fire pit? ›

Water is a quick and easy way to put out a fire in your fire pit, but having a bucket of water on stand-by isn't quite the best option for this. A garden hose with a multi-pattern nozzle will be needed if you want to use water to douse out the flames.

Should you put mulch or gravel around a fire pit? ›

Is it safe to put a (small, contained) fire pit on grass or mulch? Yes, you can use any fire pit at any time on the ground. If the fire pit is placed in a wooden or metal grate, it should always be covered with sand, rocks or gravel to prevent sparks from escaping.

Should you put landscape fabric under a fire pit? ›

To help keep weeds down inside the area, lay down landscape fabric and secure it with landscape pins. If multiple pieces are needed, make sure they overlap by at least 3 inches. Fill the area with gravel. Carefully add a layer of gravel on top of the landscape fabric, making sure the fabric doesn't fold up.

How many feet away should a fire pit be? ›

Place your fire pit at a safe distance (10-25 feet) from any flammable structures or surfaces. This includes your house, trees, shed, vehicle, neighbors' property, and wood deck, among other things. Keep your fire pit away from overhanging branches. A 21-foot clearance is standard for most municipalities.

Can you put pavers under fire pit? ›

If you are incorporating a fire pit on a pre-existing installation, you can safely build one on top of it, as long as the pavers you're using are porous and fire-resistant. If they are not, it is recommended that you remove some pavers and expose the ground beneath, so you can then build your fire pit around it.

Can cigarettes set grass on fire? ›

Cigarettes. Cigarettes dropped on dry grass that have not been properly extinguished are very likely to cause a grass fire. Even cigarettes thrown from a car window can start a fire. Many roads are banked by or near to grassland, and these can be easily set on fire by a cigarette when dried out.

How do you prepare for a grass fire? ›

Prepare Your Yard for Wildfire
  1. Remove all dead vegetation, including plants, leaves, grass and weeds, from your yard, roof, rain gutters, windows and under decks.
  2. Remove branches that hang over your roof and keep dead branches 10 feet away from your chimney.

What do you put in the bottom of a fire pit at home? ›

Build the Fire Pit Gravel Base

Adding gravel on top of the compacted dirt will create a base for your fire pit. Pour a generous amount of crushed gravel paver base into the hole so your finished base will be approximately 5 inches thick.

Should I put bricks under my fire pit? ›

Yes. To withstand the high temperatures reached in a fire pit, you have to use firebricks, also known as refractory bricks.

Does sugar help burnt grass? ›

Can Sugar On Burnt Grass Help? Yes, sugar on burnt grass has been known to help accelerate the growth of fresh, new grass blades. Sugar feeds the beneficial microbes in the soil that convert nitrogen into a form that's easy for the grass root to absorb.

Does sugar help lawn? ›

Sugar will fortify grass while discouraging weeds. It is easy to apply. It is cheap. Sugar will not only give you a green lawn, but will help you to “go green,” meaning that it is free from chemicals that damage the soil, our water supply, and ourselves.

Is glass or rock better for fire pit? ›

The glass pieces are non-toxic and will not leave behind any ash or soot, which is great for keeping the outdoor area clean. Lava rocks, on the other hand, are known for being very porous and light. Due to the porous texture, they contain no moisture – and do not hold any heat in.

Should you put rocks around a fire pit? ›

Rocks can and do explode in intense heat. The more porous the stone, the more likely it is to absorb water that can expand in the presence of the fierce heat fires give off. For safety reasons, it is necessary to be mindful of the type of rock for the fire pit and how you use it around your fire.

What rocks are best for a fire pit? ›

Lava rock holds up well to heat and does not decay. Since lava rock does not deteriorate and is formed under extreme temperatures it is an excellent option for firepits. KK Ranch & Stone offers visually appealing red lava rock for this purpose. Another excellent option for a base is gravel.

Why put gravel in fire pit? ›

– Gravel. Another great material to consider is gravel under fire pit. It is a common material used in landscaping, so it is easily available and attractive, too. It is composed of small, shredded rocks that can be easily scattered.

Can you put a fire pit directly on grass? ›

No. Fire pits can warm and destroy the grass if you put them directly on it. The best would be to put something in between, like heat shields or patio slabs, made from fire-resistant materials, which can withstand high temperatures.

Can you stand a fire pit on grass? ›

Yes absolutely it is OK to put a fire pit on grass. The only thing you need to consider is that if you're using a charcoal or wood based fire pit then you will almost certainly end up scorching a bit of your grass area, especially if you've had a few too many drinks late into the evening.

How do you landscape a fire pit? ›

Use hedges or tall plants around your fire pit to create the walls of your outdoor room. If you have a view to enjoy, take a pass on the green walls. Optimize the view with plantings that won't obstruct it. Especially in smaller landscapes and spaces, stick to a simple plant, color, and material palette.

What keeps grass from burning? ›

Microbes in the soil are able to break down the nitrogen in the particles over time, thereby releasing nutrients slowly and steadily over a6-8 week period, which means no lawn burn.

Will grass grow back after a bonfire? ›

Land with perennial grass cover usually recovers from wildfire within two to three years. Grass species with finer leaves and a denser growth form, such as Idaho fescue, needlegrasses, and rough fescue, tend to be more susceptible to destruction by fire.

How do you build a base for an outdoor fire pit? ›

  1. A fire pit should be built at least 15 feet from any structure and close to a water source. Ideally, you'll want it on level ground. ...
  2. Add a 1” layer of all-purpose sand in the hole and tamp it down flat. ...
  3. Lay the pavers or fireplace bricks in the bottom of the fire pit.


1. Stop the Smoke, Do THIS to Your Fire Pit
(Fix This Build That)
2. The brilliant reason he lays ziploc bags of cement in his backyard
3. Prevent Your Fire Pit From Ruining Your Grass Or Deck
(Outdoor Fire Pits & Fire Pit Designs)
4. How to Start the Perfect Fire in a Fire Pit - Bright Ideas: Episode 8
(Sunnydaze Decor)
5. How to build a Firepit in 4 minutes!!
(PhotoCrave Media)
6. 5 Do's & Don'ts When Using a Fire Pit on a Wood Deck - Bright Ideas: Episode 7
(Sunnydaze Decor)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Domingo Moore

Last Updated: 03/02/2023

Views: 5691

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Domingo Moore

Birthday: 1997-05-20

Address: 6485 Kohler Route, Antonioton, VT 77375-0299

Phone: +3213869077934

Job: Sales Analyst

Hobby: Kayaking, Roller skating, Cabaret, Rugby, Homebrewing, Creative writing, amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Domingo Moore, I am a attractive, gorgeous, funny, jolly, spotless, nice, fantastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.