DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps

Turn your backyard into a cozy camp spot by making your own fire pit. This outdoor DIY project is easy to complete, and you’ll be making s’mores and cuddling up by the fire in no time.

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Get ready

Before you start building your backyard fire pit, you’ll need to gather some supplies: bricks for the fire pit wall, gravel, twine or string, a tape measure, a stake, a large shovel and a trowel, a tamp, and a level.

When purchasing bricks for the fire pit wall, go for something sturdy like retaining wall bricks or concrete pavers. Some home improvement stores even carry bricks specifically designed for fire pits. Use a layer of firebricks, which have a higher heat resistance, on the inner layer of the fire pit as an extra safety measure.

Also, before you begin building, be sure to consult your local fire code to find out whether fire pits are allowed in your city, and, if so, how far away the fire pit has to be from a structure.

Now that you have all your supplies and you’ve checked your local fire code, you’re ready to build!

1. Create a circle.

Pick out a spot in your yard for your fire pit (ensuring that it is located a safe distance from any structures, bushes, or trees), and insert a stake in the ground where the center of the pit will be.

Tie one end of the string or twine to the stake and measure how wide you want your circle to be. Typically, a fire pit has a diameter of about 4 to 5 feet. Cut the string, and tie the other end to the handle of a trowel. With the string or twine taut, drag the sharp end of the trowel around in a circle, creating a line in the grass.

2. Shovel out the grass.

Using a large shovel, dig out the grass inside the circle.

For safety purposes, the hole for a fire pit should be about 6 to 12 inches deep. Be sure to call 811 before you start digging to ensure there are no utility lines buried under the spot you’ve chosen.

3. Tamp down the dirt.

If you don’t have a tamp, you can just use the bottom of your shovel.

4. Make sure the circle is level.

Get down on the ground with your level to ensure that the surface is ready for the bricks to be laid. Keep making small adjustments until it’s completely level.

5. Add gravel.

Put a pretty thick layer of gravel in the fire pit (at least a couple of inches). Spread the gravel around evenly.

6. Arrange the bricks.

After you’ve spread the gravel around, arrange your bricks in a circle and stack them in layers until the fire pit wall is at least 12 inches tall.

For extra safety, you have the option to put an inner layer of firebricks. Though you don’t need to use mortar if the bricks are heavy enough to make a sturdy stack, you can use an outdoor, fire-resistant mortar between the bricks for extra stability.

7. Relax and enjoy!

Gather a couple of Adirondack chairs, some firewood, a few friends, and campfire treats to get full use out of your new fire pit.

See more fire pit design inspiration on Zillow Digs.

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DIY Backyard Fire Pit: Build It in Just 7 Easy Steps was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

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Backyard Wedding: How to Tie the Knot at Home

Hosting your wedding in your own or a love one’s backyard is not only a great way to save money on a venue, but also creates beautiful and sentimental memories. The flip side is that backyard weddings can require additional planning, especially if you’re doing the planning yourself.

 

Gazebo Backyard Wedding

 

With these 10 tips, we want to help you make your big day less of a big hassle.

1. Plan Ahead

You’ll be making tons of plans for your wedding, but there are some unique questions you need to ask yourself when planning your backyard wedding. Will it be big enough for your guest list? Will you be hosting both the ceremony and reception, and is there room to designate space for both? Do you have enough bathrooms to accommodate everyone? What about food—sit down dinner or h’ordeuvres? Talking to a rental or catering company can help you figure all of this out. After all, they do it for a living! Otherwise, plan about 6-10 square feet per guest and about 35 guests per restroom.

Backyard Wedding Party

2. Your Theme Matters

Backyard weddings lend themselves to garden, rustic and bohemian themes. Modern may not be the best theme to pick when tying the knot in the outdoors. However, when it comes down to it this is your big day, all that matters is your happiness.

Rustic Wedding Table Setting

3. Prep Your Yard

To ensure your backyard stands out as the amazing backdrop it is, give yourself at least 8 weeks to fill in the gaps in your garden. Work even further ahead by keeping in mind plants and the landscape design you want to see at your wedding when you plant it for the year.

Garden Wedding

4. Tents Are Your Friend

Incremental weather happens. As do scorchers and havoc wreaking breezes. So when it comes to your wedding, a tent will be your best friend. But don’t think of it as an eyesore – tents are also a great opportunity to work in more lighting and decorations while offering your wedding safety and privacy.

Wedding Tent

5. Flat Floors

Heels and grass do not go together. So spare your lawn and your guests by renting a floor for dancing, maybe even your walkway down the aisle.

Wedding Dance Floor

6. Rent Equipment

Going through a rental company may be one of the best decisions you make after getting a tent (and often you can get the tent, floor and equipment all from the same company!). The extra cost of renting tables, arrangements and the like is well worth the peace of mind. They take care of the set up and take down so you can enjoy your big day.

Wooden Chairs Backyard Wedding

7. Temperature Control

You can’t control the weather, but you can have a good idea what it will (or should) be like. Be sure to also rent any heaters or coolers you may need to keep guests comfortable as the day progresses.

Patio Heater

8. Consider a Generator

Chances are your house wasn’t built to accommodate the electrical demand of a wedding. There will be caterers, extra lighting, grills, music, and more that will all  be taxing to your grid, and you don’t want to be the cause of a neighborhood blackout.

Generator

9. Family Fun Zone

If you’re inviting kids to your wedding, consider creating an area for the kids. Backyards scream playtime for them, so contain any rambunctious behavior they may bring with a designated kids area. Include tables, some games and maybe even a blanket and pillow pile for naps.

Girl at Weddding

10. Embrace Your Backyard

Your backyard will be stunning for your wedding, so embrace its natural beauty. Don’t try to cover it up or use it simply because it’s convenient. Let it be the fairytale backdrop of your dreams.

Bride and Groom

 

Do you need help with improving your outdoor space? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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Backyard Wedding: How to Tie the Knot at Home was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

How to Build a Backyard Chicken Coop

If you’re thinking of jumping on the chicken coop train, it’s not a bad train to be on. Not only do you get your personal source of organic eggs and save money on the grocery bill, but, believe it or not, chickens make good pets. They teach kids responsibilities, and also exhibit their own personalities. And their happy clucking is charming.

 

Chicken On Ramp

 

Before you begin building your own chicken coop, do your research on which breeds are right for you (there are 62 breeds!) and your local laws and ordinances. Some cities don’t allow chickens while others allow them as long as you don’t have a rooster. Taking care of chickens also requires a little bit of knowledge before you begin, so be sure to do your homework since we’re only covering the coop. These tips for a successful backyard chicken coop will also help you to raise a healthy brood.

1. Scout Your Location

Chickens like to catch some rays, but too much and they’ll roast and get sick. Ideally, you’ll want to find about 4–8 square feet under a shady tree for the run and 4 feet by 4 feet for the actual coop. This is enough space for up to three hens, so plan for more space if you’re going to get more hens. If this is your first time building a coop or raising chickens, we recommend buying building plans or a ready-made coop to assemble to ensure everything is just right.

Red Chicken Coop

2. Make a Perfect Nest

The nesting area should be about 2–3 feet off of the ground to keep out pests and predators, and to keep it dry. Add a narrow ramp so the hens can enter and exit. You also may want to consider adding a door to access the nesting area from the outside. You’ll be able to collect the eggs more easily as well as clean the nests. Just be sure to add a lip so the eggs don’t roll out.

Hen On Ramp

3. Sleeping and Laying Etiquette

Contrary to popular thought, chickens don’t sleep in their nests. They like cozy little nooks filled with lots of cushy straw to lay their eggs in (sometimes multiple eggs, especially if you’re not collecting them every day), and a good old closet rod to sleep on.

Chicken Coop Sleeping Nest

4. Consider Lighting

Like we mentioned before, hens like light and they’ll lay more eggs with more rays. Consider putting in lights that cast a warm glow (not blue-white light) to extend “daylight” hours during the winter and encourage the hens to keep laying.

Organic Eggs In Hand

5. Protect Your Flock

An unprotected coop is an easy dinner for chicken-eating predators. Use metal latches that they can’t flip open (yes, they’ve learned how!) and lock your hens up snuggly at night. Use sturdy screening or chicken wire to keep them safe inside and critters out, and be sure to install it from the inside so animals can’t pull at a corner and make a hole. You’ll also want to protect your chickens from the weather with the proper insulation for your climate.

Chicken Coop Fence

6. Don’t Eat Where You…

We keep our kitchens and bathrooms separate to prevent contamination. The same goes for chickens! Keep their food and litter in separate areas so they don’t get sick. You can also create a droppings drawer that slides out to make cleaning the roosting area easier. Because trust us, you don’t want to be leaning in there for very long.

Chicken Coop Feeding Trough

7. Ventilation

Ventilating your coop will keep your chickens happy and make you happier when you clean it. This can be as simple as screening in a raised roof to let hot air escape, creating a screened window or even little screened portholes in the roosting area.

Ventilated Chicken Coop

8. Easy Access

In addition to adding doors to access the nests and roosting areas, make the run tall enough for you to stand comfortable. No sense hunching over to care for your chickens.

Woman With Her Chicken Coop

9. Personalize It

Don’t let your coop stand out like a free-standing eyesore. Have a little fun with the design. Just a coat of lead-free paint, a cute scalloped roof or some flowers or bushes in front of the run (to hide the floor) gives it a little personality that goes a long way.

Barn Style Chicken Coop

 

Do you need help with a home improvement project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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How to Build a Backyard Chicken Coop was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

How to Build a Backyard BBQ Pit

Dad’s relationship with his grill is second to none—so why not strengthen that bond this Father’s Day? This year, up Dad’s grilling game with a backyard BBQ pit—the ultimate grill.

 

Steak Kabobs on Grill

 

These grills were all the rage in the 1950s and fell out of style when flashier, smaller grills came along. But they’re making a comeback. They’re great for outdoor entertaining because they have more grilling space. They’re also weather resistant, don’t need to be stored and feel much more inviting than a stainless steel machine. In fact, they’re pretty easy to build, too, and cost less than a fancy gas grill.

The Anatomy of a BBQ Pit

Before we tell you how to build one, let’s quickly go over the BBQ pit anatomy:

  • Firebox: Inner wall of BBQ lined with firebrick
  • Grill Grate: This is where you place the meat so select with that’s rustproof, porcelain coated, cast iron or stainless steel
  • Base: 3-4 inch pad for stability, usually made of concrete
  • Solid Brick Walls (or material of choice): Encloses the pit for safety and is finished with header and stretcher borders
  • Charcoal/Ash Pan: Solid metal sheet that holds fuel and catches ashes, 7-15 inches below cooking surface

 

BBQ Pit

 

Now that you know all the basic parts, let’s get into how to build one!

10 Step Guide to Building a BBQ Pit

1. Check Local Codes

BBQ pits involve an open flame. Not only should you see if you have enough space for a pit and the room to entertain, but check if your city has any codes regarding BBQ pits or open flames. And remember, keep it at least 10 feet from the nearest building, brush or combustible surface.

2. DIY or Pro

Now that you know if you can have one, you need to decide whether to DIY it or hire a pro. A 24” x 24” x 30” pit with 4 inch pad will run you around $ 500. It will require some heavy lifting and familiarity with bricklaying. If you’re looking for fancy masonry, look into hiring one of our pros!

3. Materials 

Choose what material you’d like for your pit. Concrete blocks are the least expensive and natural stone will run you the biggest bottom line. We’ll use brick in our example, which is a good mid-level choice.

4. Pour Concrete

Now we can get into the build out. Account for the firebox, brick walls and room to stand when you measure out the size of your pit. Then, dig about 8 inches down and add 3 to 4 inches of pea gravel. Compact and level it, then pour cement to fill the rest. It will take about 24 to 48 hours to cure.

5. Dry Fit Material

Don’t jump into brick laying just yet. Make sure it will all fit by laying them out without mortar (leave a ½ inch gap to account for it). Mark the outlines to use as a guide. Lastly, hose all the bricks down about 30 minutes before you begin building to prevent them from soaking up too much moisture from the mortar and causing it to shrink.

6. First Course

Lay down the first course of brick on top of the mortar and make sure it is level.

7. 2nd and 3rd Course

Lay the next two layers, but only on the outside and rear walls. The front will be where you access the grill (you can lay up to two courses total here). And be sure to stagger the joints. Use a cold chisel or wet saw to cut the bricks to make them fit if necessary.

8. Continue the Courses

Continue laying your courses until you reach the desired height. When you begin the fourth course, you can turn some off the bricks so they jut out at every other one. This will give you options of where to put your charcoal and grate when you’re cooking.

9. Strike Joints

Once you lay your final course and the mortar has dried, strike the mortar joints with a jointer. This results in the desired indented look of mortar. Then, when the cement is almost completely cured, take a stiff brush and scrape off any excess mortar.

10. Get Cooking

You’re all done now! Easy enough. Now add your grate and charcoal and surprise Dad with a nice cut of meat to cook up on Father’s Day. Or better yet, deliver him grilled steak and eggs for breakfast in bed!

 

Do you need help with a home improvement project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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How to Build a Backyard BBQ Pit was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Time for Treats! #HomemadeHack for DIY Backyard Tabletop S’mores

No meal is complete without dessert, and this re-imagined campfire classic is the ultimate interactive treat.

Grab a few household items, gather some friends and family, and get toasty with this #HomemadeHack for simply delightful tabletop s’mores, right in your own backyard.

1. Take a terra-cotta pot.

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2. Line it with foil.

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3. Fill the pot with charcoal.

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4. Light it up. (But be careful!)

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5. Toast marshmallows over the flame. Golden brown or totally charred – it’s up to you!

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6. Assemble your s’more.

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7. Enjoy!

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With this gooey goody, you’ll be the toast of your next block party.

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Time for Treats! #HomemadeHack for DIY Backyard Tabletop S’mores was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

How to Install a Hammock in Your Backyard

Happy Hammock Day! Summer is in full swing, and what better way to enjoy the long, languid days and balmy nights than swinging in your very own hammock? It’s extremely easy to do, so you can be relaxing in the same day you install it.

 

Dad and Child in Hammock

 

Just follow these steps to hang a hammock and enjoy!

1. Choose Your Hammock

There are many different kinds on the market, but we recommend one with a spreader bar. They stay open so you can completely relax, or stay social during a backyard get-together. They’re also better for sharing. Mayan or Brazilian types are great for sleeping in, but not much else because of their cocoon effect. Just be sure to avoid cotton, nylon and unfinished bars to increase your hammock’s durability.

Man in Hammock

2. Find Your Distance

It’s great if you have two trees, but if not, two solid anchor points like a building or sturdy flagpole will do. You’ll want to find the ideal distance so that you’re laying flat inside your hammock. Trunk to trunk, you’ll be looking for a distance of 13-16 feet, but no longer than 18 feet. A good ballpark is a few feet longer than your hammock. If the distance is too long, you can compensate with ropes or chains, but if it’s too short, use a metal hammock frame or install a post in concrete to reach the ideal distance.

Hammock Between Trees

3. Choose Your Hardware

You can either go with removable tree straps or drill into your trees or anchors. For the straps, you simply loop the strap through its metal ring and hook the hammock on with an S-hook. Or, if you want your hammock to be more permanent and easy to set up, you can drill a bolt into each tree or anchor. Drill a 1/8 or 3/16 inch hole into each tree and secure in a 4 inch eyebolt. Then, simply attach the hammock with a carabineer with the proper weight rating and kick back!

Hammock Hardware

 

Do you need help with a home improvement project? Use our instant estimate tool to get a price in seconds and find certified professionals in your area. Get a price. Get a pro. Get it done.

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How to Install a Hammock in Your Backyard was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Get the Look: Benjamin McKenzie’s True Blue Backyard

He may have become a household name after landing the role of Ryan Atwood opposite Mischa Barton on The O.C., but today Benjamin McKenzie is 36 and living the single life. With true-blue accents, tons of seating, and a secluded feel, his festive (former) pad just off the Sunset Strip is the perfect spot for an Independence Day soiree.

Here’s how to score his outdoor living style without breaking the bank.

Benjamin McKenzie True Blue Backyard

1966 Collection Adjustable Chaise Lounge, $ 2,795, dwr.com

The sleek lines of this 1960s chaise lounge give a retro look to any outdoor space.

Sunbrella True Blue 20×20 Outdoor Pillow, $ 40, pillowdecor.com

This bold blue throw pillow in durable Sunbrella fabric adds a dose of color to an otherwise neutral landscape.

Majestic Home Products Trellis Lumbar Pillow, $ 29, wayfair.com

The trellis pattern of this accent pillow serves as the perfect touch of sophistication in a bachelor pad oasis.

Handpainted Tiger Outdoor Pillow, $ 159, frontgate.com

Upholstered in all-weather paint, it will retain its fluffy shape but also remain vibrantly blue in spite of Mother Nature.

Anderson Teak Butterfly 47-Inch Round Folding Table, $ 870, luxedecor.com

This durable teak table is ideal for small entertaining spaces—it collapses into a half-round table for tight dining areas.

Teak Folding Chair and Cushion, $ 150 and $ 40, seattleboatchairco.com

What’s better than water-resistant outdoor furniture? Water-resistant outdoor furniture with a cushion swathed in a high-performance fabric that’s fade-, mold-, and mildew-resistant.

Kelly Garden Stool, $ 159, onekingslane.com  

Add a pop of color to your outdoor space with this chic garden stool in a bold sapphire hue.

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Get the Look: Benjamin McKenzie’s True Blue Backyard was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Check Out This #HomemadeHack for a Super-Chill Backyard Bash

With outdoor entertaining season in full swing, everyone is looking for ways to make their cookout one to remember. Here’s a tip for an eye-catching centerpiece that’s as clever as it is festive.

Try this DIY #HomemadeHack at your next outdoor event: Keep your backyard BBQ drinks cool by using frozen water balloons instead of ice.

1. Fill water balloons with tap water.

1P0A87382. Toss them in the freezer for a couple of hours.

1P0A87673. Place your pitcher inside a large glass bowl.

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4. Remove the frozen water balloons from the freezer.

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 5. Fill the large glass bowl with your balloons.

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Happy summer sipping!

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Check Out This #HomemadeHack for a Super-Chill Backyard Bash was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home

Get the Look: Nicole Richie’s Boho Backyard

Kid friendly by day, the space takes on a new tone once sunshine gives way to the amber glow of string lights and the murmurs of adult conversation.
Kid friendly by day, the space takes on a new tone once sunshine gives way to the amber glow of string lights and the murmurs of adult conversation. Image courtesy of Justin Coit, mydomaine.com.

Nicole Richie is proof positive that personal identity needn’t be sacrificed for parenthood. It’s a fact best evidenced by the trendsetting mom of two’s always-on-point style, her ability to helm a successful jewelry label, and the vibe of her Hollywood Hills estate, which is equal parts poised and playful (and was just listed by Richie and husband Joel Madden for a cool $ 3.495 million).

That duality extends to the home’s poolside backyard. Kid friendly by day, the space takes on a new tone once sunshine gives way to the amber glow of string lights and the murmurs of adult conversation. Furnishings toe the line between industrial and global, with ikat fabrics and Moroccan lanterns playing off tables and chairs in modern stone and steel. Off to the side, a 12-foot-tall, custom-muraled teepee adds a dash of irreverence. What else would you expect from the former wild child?

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A Teepee to Call Your Own, $ 159, landofnod.com

Sized just right for smaller spaces (and with a lower price tag to match), this canvas teepee delivers the Midas touch through chic gold stripes and gilded rod tops.

String lights, $ 13, homedepot.com

The most crucial component of any nighttime soiree held outdoors — the lighting — is also the least expensive. These lights are a bargain buy.

Checkerboard Lifestyle Ikat Throw Pillow, $ 31, allmodern.com

Trina Turk Ikat Stripe Pillow, $ 95, laurelandmayfair.com

Cabana Pillow, $ 20, pier1.com

Mimicking the mashup of patterns and colors found on Nicole’s cushion-strewn banquette, these pillows offset busy ikat with a punch of cobalt blue.

Tabouret Bistro Steel Chairs, $ 140 (set of 2), overstock.com

Go bold without going broke. Sold in pairs, these stacking steel chairs deliver the industrial look on the cheap.

White x White Solaire Dining Table, $ 780, wayfair.com

Inlaid wood and heavy-duty iron combine forces to create a conversation-starter in this industrial-chic dining table. Bonus: Swivel wheels make the table easy to reposition.

Davis Lanterns, $ 35-$ 60, pier1.com

Arranged in groups, these lanterns help set the mood—but also illuminate stairs and walkways to guide guests to their seats.

Silo Tall Side Table, $ 179, cb2.com

Short and squat, these tritone tables can double as extra seating. In their off hours, they provide a pretty perch for potted plants.

Featured image courtesy of mydomaine.com. The photographer is Justin Coit.

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Get the Look: Nicole Richie’s Boho Backyard was originally published on Southern Classic Realtors – Nivla Calcinore – Bringing You Home