Fire Pit Garden Ideas: Types Of Backyard Fire Pits
Fire pits in gardens are becoming more and more popular. They extend the time we have to enjoy the outdoors by providing a cozy spot during cool evenings and in the off season. People have always been attracted to the safety, warmth, ambiance and cooking potential of a campfire. Using fire pits in gardens is a modern and more convenient version of the campfires of yesteryear.
Today, people are using garden fire pits for social gatherings, for outdoor grilling and even for an attractive landscape focal point. They sometimes position the fire pit for convenience in movement between important outdoor areas. It is nice when our guests can easily transition from the outdoor dining table, pool or spa to the fire pit and back again.
Tips on Building a Backyard Fire Pit
If you are building a backyard fire pit, consider the size and location of the fire pit. Although you can build one much larger, the average family sized garden fire pit has a 3-foot diameter. This includes the outer structural edging of the fire pit as well as the burning area.
The most comfortable height for resting your feet on the outer rim of the fire pit is 10 to 12 inches. If the fire pit is flush with the ground, people will have to crouch around it to feel the heat. If you want an integrated seating wall as part of the fire pit design, build it 18 to 20 inches high. Note that if the fire pit is too tall, it may be uncomfortable to rest your feet on the rim and it may not radiate enough heat to the seating area.
Other tips on building a backyard fire pit cover physical space and weather. How big is the area you have allotted? Some fire pit experts suggest that a 7-foot seating area beyond the outer edge of fire pits is best so that people can move their chairs backward if they become overheated. In this scenario (with a 3-foot fire pit), you would need a 17-foot diameter area.
Consider prevailing winds when using garden fire pits. You don’t want to position the fire pit in a location that is too windy. Then it will be too difficult to light the fire and your guests will have to constantly dodge smoke. If you are going create a built-in seating area around the fire pit, consider the spacing carefully. Don’t put the seating too far away. Position the fire pit so you can take advantage of any nice views.
Check your local ordinances on outdoor wood burning fire pits. Some towns don’t allow outdoor wood burning of any sort due to fire risk or air pollution issues. You may be required to get the approval of the fire department. They may want to ensure you haven’t located your fire pit directly on a wood deck or too close to flammable overhanging branches or foliage. There may also be property line set back limits for fire pits and other structures.
Fire Pit Garden Ideas
There are many types of backyard fire pits. Your simplest and cheapest option is to buy a prefabricated fire pit from your local hardware store. These are usually made of lightweight metal and come with a grill and a spark cover. They are portable and can be moved about the garden.
If you install a custom fire pit, the sky is the limit. If you are not sure what style you want, look at images online. You can use brick, concrete, stone, metal or a combination of materials.
Fire pit bowls are another option. They are contemporary in style and made of precast smooth concrete. You can also install a fire pit table. These tables have an inset burning area in the center with a wide rim around the edge for dinner plates, cutlery and drinking glasses. Fire pits and fire tables do not have to be round. They can be square, rectangular or even L-shaped. You don’t have to have a wood burning fire pit either. There are gas and propane options that are good quality and easy to use.
There are many landscape professionals who specialize in building outdoor fire pits. They know the local building codes and how to make your fire pit safe. If you are building a backyard fire pit DIY style, you must be very careful that the flames and sparks can’t easily escape and ignite flammable items. Use must use fire brick and fire resistant caulk on the bottom and sides of all fire pits. Follow the guidelines that a professional would use and check your building codes.
I hope you enjoy using garden fire pits with your family and friends. Extend your time in the garden with the warmth and glow of the embers.
Dos and Don’ts of Building a Fire Pit
Fire pits are a hot commodity! These attractive additions can dress up a drab yard with mesmerizing flames while serving as a gathering place for afternoon barbecues, evening drinks, and late night s’mores. Before building a fire pit, however, you should become fully informed as to local regulations, construction requirements, and potential hazards. So study up here with these dos and don’ts so you won’t get burned!
DON’T build a fire pit without approval from local authorities.
Your local government, homeowners association, and house deed may impose restrictions on the size, location, material, and fuel type of home fire pits—or forbid them altogether—due to the potential for fire-related property damages. If your fire pit flouts these rules, you may be fined. Contact your municipality’s planning office and homeowner’s association, and review the deed for your house, to ensure that you comply with all restrictions and obtain any permits required for fire pit installation.
DO consider accessibility when choosing a fire pit size.
Building a fire pit yourself offers room for customization on every detail, size included. Local ordinances permitting, your fire pit should ideally measure between 36 and 44 inches wide (including the width of the walls) to accommodate multiple people around it while maintaining an intimate setting. Aim for a fire pit height of 12 to 14 inches from the base of the walls to the top of the walls if you want guests to be able to prop their feet on it while seated around it on standard 18-inch-tall dining-height patio chairs. Increase the pit height to 18 to 20 inches tall if you want to be able to comfortably sit directly on the edge of the pit.
DON’T position fire pits in hazard-prone zones with unfavorable winds.
Plan to install your fire pit on a patch of level ground in an open area of the yard that’s at least 15 feet from other residences and at least 10 feet from property lines, flammable structures such as wooden sheds, bushes, and trees. In addition, use the National Water and Climate Center’s Wind Rose tool to identify the prevailing wind direction in your location you want to ensure that you won’t have smoke blowing into your home through open doors or windows.
DON’T use flammable or non-porous, water-retaining building materials.
Fire pits commonly consist of an inner wall, an outer wall, a “cap” (i.e., a flat tabletop-like surface around the opening at the top of the pit), and decorative stones or rocks in the center of the pit. The inner wall must be made of fireproof building materials, optimally fire brick the outer walls should still be heat-resistant but can be made of traditional brick, stone, masonry blocks (consisting of brick, concrete, granite, etc.), concrete pavers, or even heat-resistant outdoor stucco or tile. Flagstone and crushed stone are ideal materials for the fire pit cap, and the stones in the center of the pit, respectively. No part of the fire pit should be made with flammable materials (e.g., plywood shipping pallets) or non-porous materials that hold water, such as pea gravel, river rocks, or compressed concrete blocks these materials can trap steam and eventually explode.
DO install a steel ring in the fire pit.
When building a fire pit, lining the innermost wall with a steel fire ring (available on Amazon from brands like Sunnydaze Decor) will prevent the wall material from drying out from regular exposure to the heat of the fire. As a non-combustible material, the steel will ward off heat and keep the wall itself from prematurely dehydrating and crumbling this will preserve the looks and structural integrity of your fire pit longer.
DO consider fuel supply equipment and emissions when determining fuel type.
Ethanol, propane, and natural gas are all sound fire pit fuel options as they emit no smoke, sparks, or embers, and leave no ashes to clean up. Ethanol, the cleanest of all fuel types (it additionally burns without odor), must be supplied via an ethanol tank or tray and propane-fueled pits require a connection to a liquid propane tank. Natural gas-fueled fire pits have a more involved setup, however, as they require the gas company to install a supply line (do-it-yourself gas line installation isn’t recommended). While wood-burning fire pits require no gas lines, they kick up a high volume of smoke, sparks, and embers call for frequent ash removal and make large flames difficult to extinguish—all reasons why city planning departments commonly forbid them.
DO factor in return on investment when weighing building costs.
While a basic fire pit costs $700 on average, prices run the gamut from $300 for a DIY install of a homemade fire pit, to $1,400 or more for a professional install of a pre-built fire pit. That said, fire pits are such a coveted architectural feature nowadays that you can expect to recoup 78 percent of your investment when you sell your home.
DO invest in fire safety gear.
If going forward with a fire pit installation, keep a fire blanket (a fire-retardant sheet usually made of fiberglass or Kevlar, available on Amazon from brands like Hot Headz) within reach to help smother the beginnings of a fire on nearby objects or people. Similarly, store a fire extinguisher in a nearby outdoor grill cabinet, shed, or garage. The extinguisher should be a multipurpose dry chemical model, which means it can effectively extinguish Class A (involving combustibles), B (involving flammable liquids), and C (electrical) fires.
Creating The Backyard Fire Pit On A Budget
The key to a safe and beautiful backyard fire pit is to keep it slightly below the soil line.
Not only does it help to prevent the embers of a burning fire from jumping out – it also helps keep the wind from becoming too much of an issue when cooking.
Using a piece of string tied to a 3′ section of round rebar post, we marked out a perfect circle by spray painting a line on the ground as we walked with the string around the post.
Next, using the same method with an 11′ piece of string tied to the rebar post, we created a second line 11′ from the center of the fire pit to create the sitting area space.
By marking out to 11′, it created a wide 8′ area in front of the pit that is perfect for sitting chairs and benches around the fire at a safe distance.
Once the lines were marked, we removed 18″ of the soil inside the entire 3′ fire pit area.
We dug down deeper about 12″ wide on the outer edge of the 3′ circle to create a footer for our stone. We used concrete in the footer area, but 4 to 6″ of limestone screenings or packing gravel in the “footer” area is more than enough to work perfectly.
I have a tendency to overbuild – and now admit freely that the concrete footer was overkill!
Finishing The Backyard Fire Pit
Next, we sprayed the 8′ sitting area with high strength vinegar to kill off the grass – and then laid in a 2″ layer of limestone screenings to form a strong and hard packing base. (see: How To Use Vinegar To Kill Grass and Weeds)
Once we layered in the limestone base, we followed with a 2″ top coat of #8 pea gravel.
We have used this combination of limestone screening base / pea gravel top coat with great results to inexpensively build all of our walkways to the garden, coop, and more around the farm.
The limestone screenings form a near concrete-like base, and can be applied right over the existing soil to level it out and create the walkway.
It’s fast, easy and long-lasting and easy to keep completely free of weeds with a few applications of vinegar spray a year. In square footage cost – it runs right around .10 per square foot to build – and that’s hard to beat!
Building The Stone Wall
With the sitting area complete – we began the process of the stone wall build.
Although it would have been far more simple at this point to purchase flat rock or block – we really wanted the rustic look – and on top of that – rustic is about $500 cheaper!
We used rip-rap mixed size rock found at a nearby quarry. It’s cheap to purchase (about $14 to $20 per ton).
We pre-sorted through the rock – setting out the largest stones for the base – and building up from there with the remaining rocks. We set aside the flattest of the rocks to create the top of the pit.
Setting one course at time – we mixed up a bag of mortar and stacked the wall in place – using only enough mortar to fill in the gaps.
The wall itself is extremely strong sitting on the base – so there is little need for a lot of mortar.
With a little time and patience – we created the pit quickly – and two and a half years later – it is still going on strong!
Total Materials / Cost:
1 load (1.2 ton) of limestone screenings for walkway bade $4.50
1 load (1.25 tons) of rip rap quarry stone mixed rock – $19.50
5 bags of mortar mix $4.18 ea. – $20.90
1 load of pea gravel (rounded #8) – $19.22
Cost : $64.12 *
We used concrete bags for our footer base which was added about $35 to the project – but you could use easily use a pick up load of sand ($20) or packed dirt (free) for the base.
So what are you waiting for – get busy on creating your own backyard fire pit and start enjoying the great outdoors!
Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary
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5 Ways to reduce fire pit smoke
There may be other causes of fire pit related smoke that I didn’t cover, but what we’ve covered so far represents the bulk of what drives excessive smoke in most situations.
Now we can get into a little more detail on how to use this information to keep fire pit smoke to a minimum next time you have a fire.
The following are action steps and other pointers you can use that address a number of smoke-reducing workarounds that can be used in combination with each other or on their own:
1. Use Well Seasoned or Kiln-Dried Firewood
As we covered above, wet wood is bad when trying to keep fire pit smoke down. Using adequately dried wood will produce much less smoke and perform much better and for a longer time.
Seasoned (Air-Dried) Firewood for Fire Pits
As I mentioned before, if you are chopping and stacking your own firewood, I recommend going with hardwoods, vice softwoods, as they tend to smoke less.
Hardwoods do tend to take much longer (6 months to 2 years) to season to a moisture content of 30% or less, but when done correctly they will burn much longer and hotter than any softwood ever would.
When prepping your own woodpile, understand what wood you are working with and how long it’s going to take to season after being freshly chopped.
Each type of hardwood has its own estimated seasoning timeframe so know these times when planning. Naturally, the seasoning time will be reduced if you season your wood indoors in a garage or shed.
Most firewood drying time estimates you will see are for outdoor seasoning specifically.
Oak, which has an average moisture content on the high end among commonly used firewood types (maple, hickory, ash, beech, apple, etc.), and can take anywhere from six months to 2 years to get to the right moisture content for low-smoke burning.
If you recall, I mentioned using a moisture meter to monitor and keep track of your firewood’s seasoning progress. Remember, under 30% moisture is ok, below 20% is what you are shooting for.
If you buy your firewood from a firewood dealer, be sure to ask what type of wood you are getting and the moisture content of the wood.
Have that moisture meter handy when they show up with the delivery to make sure they are providing what they said they would.
You are going to pay the same whether its adequately seasoned or not. Make sure it is to get the best lighting and heat performance for your money.
Kiln-Dried Firewood for Fire Pits
Kiln-dried firewood is still somewhat of a luxury and you’ll likely pay around a 30% premium over conventional air-dried firewood delivery.
The upside is that it is very dry wood, having sat in a special firewood kiln for two days at
250°F to reach that optimal goal of 20% moisture or less.
Kiln-dried firewood is ready to burn immediately and because the moisture content is so low, smoke is minimal to non-existent.
It should light easily, stay lit, and burn hot and long, especially in comparison to non-kiln dried firewood.
Another very nice benefit of kiln-dried firewood, not related to fire pit smoke specifically, is the elimination of insects and mold from the wood due to the high-heat production process.
This feature makes storing some of your firewood inside the house a much easier choice.
If you are buying kiln dried firewood just for your fire pit, order what you think you’ll use in the near term. As I said, it’s expensive and unless you have room for indoor wood storage, the benefits could be offset by exposure to damp conditions outdoors.
For more on the subject of kiln-dried firewood for fire pit use, check out my article here or this paper from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Products Lab on kiln drying times for oak firewood.
Bottom Line: Make sure you are using dry (to very dry) firewood, preferably hardwoods, to reduce fire pit smoke.
Also, be sure to check out the Backyard Toasty Firewood Suppliers Directory here for vendors that sell kiln-dried firewood in your area . The directory only covers the U.S. for now, but I will be adding new countries shortly. The United Kingdom (U.K.) and Canada are up next.
2. Focus on Using Firewood Types That Naturally Smoke Less
We’ve talked about how hardwoods don’t smoke as much as softwoods and how they perform better in your fire pit, but not all hardwoods are low smoking.
We’ll talk about them and hit the softwoods one more time in an effort to keep smoke to a minimum.
Hardwoods As Firewood
Because of their natural density, hardwoods tend to hold much less water than other types of wood and we know water is not our friend with regard to the subject at hand. Looking at you softwoods!
Oak, ash, hickory, and maple are good examples of low-smoking hardwoods.
Hardwoods that tend to smoke more than others include eucalyptus, poplar, elm, and others (see below).
These examples all perform well from a heat and longevity standpoint but are known to smoke, so consider excluding them is minimizing smoke is your goal.
Softwoods As Firewood
Although softwoods like pine, spruce, cedar, hemlock, fir, etc. might be plentiful in your area and you may be tempted to go with that as a choice for your fire pit, they do, as covered before, have a reputation for producing more smoke than other types of wood when burned.
To recap from before, the dried pitch, or sap, from these types of wood can smoke heavily in a fire pit fire.
If you must or insist on using softwoods in your fire pit, make sure they are well-seasoned, and I mean well-seasoned , dry as a bone.
Even when thoroughly seasoned, expect smoke from softwoods, maybe just a little less of it.
3. Take the Time to Build a Fire That Starts Quickly and Burns Long
The way you stack your firewood in your fire pit is going to have a direct impact on how quickly the main fuel sources ignites and really starts to burn efficiently.
That efficiency is a key contributor to keeping smoke from forming and burning it off quickly if it does.
Good airflow between the pieces of firewood is the key difference between a fire that lights quickly and one that smolders and smokes.
I’m partial to the log-cabin configuration as its more stable and less likely to collapse and throw hot debris from the fire pit, see below.
Tinder and kindling can be loosely packed in the center at the base for quick and easy ignition.
How to do it:
Split firewood is stacked with two pieces parallel to each other, with roughly 12” or more between them, depending on the room you have in your fire pit.
You then create another row on top of the others with similar spacing, each laying across the ends of the pieces on the first row.
Repeat the process until you have 3-4 levels – the number of levels will also depend on the amount of room you have in your fire pit.
Likewise, a tipi stack is another option that is relatively stable and allows for strong airflow between firewood.
How to do it: As the name infers, firewood pieces are stacked upward against each other in a circular cone-like stack, evenly distributed for good airflow, while maintaining a wide base.
Tinder and kindling are then loosely packed at the base, inside the tipi – also see below.
Check out my article How to Start a Fire Pit for more on the subject.
4. Keep Your Fire Pit Clean After Every Use
Old fire pit debris (ash, embers, partially burned firewood, etc.) from prior burns may become damp if left out in the elements.
Building a new fire on top of this debris may inhibit your ability to get a good fire started.
Take a moment to clear your fire pit of all debris after it has completely cooled.
If you are able, cover the fire pit, turn it on its side or completely over, or store it indoors to keep water from collecting (and rust from forming).
Taking these steps will save you from having to clean the sloppy mess of fire pit ash and water out of your fire pit before your next burn and help you get a strong, smoke-free fire started from the word go.
5. Consider Using a Smokeless Fire Pit to Drastically Reduce Fire Pit Smoke
Fire pits have evolved quite a bit in the last few years, going from simple metal bowls or masonry fire pits with a fire ring to a new take on old technology.
What’s the old technology? It’s called a top-lit updraft gasifier or TLUD. A couple of innovators in the outdoors and backyard fire space have used this design to build fire pits that burn very efficiently, reducing smoke to minimal or non-existent levels.
In a nutshell, these firepits are built with a double wall structure that utilizes a unique air circulation system designed to both feed the fire and burn off excess smoke before it escapes.
The great thing is that these fire pits have been able to deliver on the smokeless claim.
Understand though, smokeless doesn’t mean no smoke, just greatly reduced smoke.
You may get a little at the moment when new firewood is added but it usually passes quickly.
Fire Pits That Don’t Smoke: The Current Market
Currently, there are four primary players in the smokeless fire pit industry, they are Solo Stove, Breeo, Flame Genie and Tiki.
All three companies use TLUD in their design have been pretty successful in carrying the technology over from the industrial market to the recreational side.
Just a few facts about each company and their line:
- Company formed in 2010, building cooking stoves for campers – currently headquartered in Southlake Texas, a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth
- Sought to expand into the fire pit business in 2016, working with Kickstarter to raise funds for their first foray into the fire pit business
- Solo Stove currently offers three fire pit choices to consumers, the Ranger, Bonfire, and Yukon, listed from smallest to largest
Check out their fire pit line at Solo Stove. They are currently offering up to 30% off fire pits and up to 45% off fire pit bundles during their current 2020 Cyber Week/Holiday Sale , running from 11/23 to 12/31. No promo code needed.
- Breeo currently offers four fire pit options, the Double Flame (two sizes available 19” and 24”), the Ablaze, the Luxeve, the Phoenix and the Zentro(The Zentro is actually a fire pit insert (not a free-standing fire pit) that utilizes the same smokeless technology as their other offerings)
For more on Breeo and how they are leading the way in the smokeless fire pit technology arena, check out my review of their Double Flame smokeless fire pit here.
- Company was formed in 1947 and builds a variety of products related to residential heat generation and ventilation
- Flame Genie currently offers one fire pit in 4 configurations, the Inferno (in stainless or black 13.5” or 19”)
- Flame Genie fire pits are fueled with wood pellets as opposed to regular firewood
Click here to take a look at the Flame Genie line on Amazon.
All fire pits mentioned are considered smokeless by their manufacturers.
As I mentioned before, a smoke-free fire pit doesn’t exist, however, these fire pits will dramatically cut down the amount of smoke you might experience with your typical non-smokeless fire pit.
Also, smokeless fire pits are a little more forgiving when it comes to the moisture content of wood due to the efficiency of the burn.
Once you get the fire going, less dry wood can be added later and these fire pits do a surprisingly good job keeping the smoke down and burning through the wood.
Finally, smokeless fire pit cleanup is usually very easy as they typically reduce everything to a fine ash and there’s usually not much of it.
For more on the benefits of smokeless fire pit use, check out my article on the subject here.
That’s more like it!
Outdoor Open Burning Fires Within City Limits
It is illegal to burn trash or debris in the City of Raleigh. The only types of fires that are permitted are fires used for heating or cooking. These fires are not allowed to exceed 3 feet in height or 2 feet in diameter.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources also prohibits the burning of leaves and yard debris where curbside collection is available. The City of Raleigh offers curbside collection of yard waste.
City Ordinance addresses open burning. According to Sec. 7-2005 on pre-collection practices, removal of rubbish, weeds and other refuse:
"No person shall burn leaves, shrubs, tree limbs, and the like on the streets or sidewalks or on private property except upon special permission from the Fire Chief."
Tips for building & maintaining a deck with a fire pit
Because decks with fire pits are susceptible to fire, there should be certain precautions taken to prevent the fire from becoming uncontrolled.
Surrounding the fire pit
Whether you live in a windy place or not, you are certain to face wind at one point of another. As you know, wind can put out a fire, or blow ashes into places you don’t want them, such as on your deck or against your home, where they can cause damage or even a house fire. This can happen with any backyard fire pit, not just one surrounded by a deck. In fact, your deck may offer even more protection if you take the right precautions. (Be advised: in general, it isn’t a good idea to burn on a windy day, this tip is for typical daily breezes.)
A spark screen is a great addition to a fire pit. It is removable so you can still cook and add wood, but it will keep embers and ashes from flying out of the pit.
This means keeping your fire low to the ground. Or, sunken into the ground a bit, surrounded on all sides. Not only is this the safest way to keep a fire burning, but it also creates a cozy sitting nook for your family and guests.
Of course you want to build your fire pit out of materials such as stone or brick, as they won’t be destroyed by the fire. But you may want to also consider putting a bit of stone on the ground, surrounding the fire, even if only by a foot. This could offer your deck an extra layer of protection from ashes, or even just fallen food that may be more difficult to get out of the wood.
There have been a lot of beautiful deck designs using this idea. Some have built their deck with a cut out, in which the center is filled with sand or stone with the fire pit in the center.
There are also such things as fire pit pads that you could use to surround the fire pit, and protect your deck.
Location of the fire pit on the deck
Naturally, where you put the fire pit matters just as much as everything else, maybe even more. Make sure the pit is not in the middle of the deck, where accidents could occur. Nor do you want it to interrupt the flow of traffic. It should also be far enough away from the house, such as the corner of the deck.
It should also be several feet from trees, or any other overhang that could catch fire.
Have safety equipment
You should have things such as:
- Fire extinguisher
- Thick fire proof gloves
- A source of water (either a bucket, or a hose nearby)
If a fire does occur, it is important to make sure it is completely out. This goes for every night you have a fire, even one that remains controlled.
It’s important to follow these safety tips. Not just when building a deck with a fire pit, but also for every day safety. Each time you light that fire is a chance. A chance to rekindle love, friendship, and a sense of our connection to nature. We owe it to ourselves to make moments like those happen frequently. We owe it to nature to respect the power of a fire. Enjoy the fire pit, but be safe doing it.
If you’d like to hear from one of our deck specialists, you can fill out this contact form, or give us a call at 866-534-2108.
Mark Circumference with Spray Paint
For a fire pit with a diameter of 5 feet, attach a string to the stake, half the length of your circumference and tie this end of the string to a can of spray paint. Pull the string lightly taut and walk around the stake as you spray paint your circumference.
Lay Concrete Foundation
Make a foundation for the stones to sit upon. Mix concrete with water until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter. Lay the wet concrete in between the two circles so it is level to the ground.
Smooth Concrete and Let it Dry
Build up the concrete until it is about 1-1/2 inches below ground level. Press rebar into the concrete for reinforcement. Smooth the surface with a trowel and let dry for 24 hours.
Build the Foundation
Pound a rebar stake into the ground at the center of the fire pit then mark the circumference of the circle. For a fire pit with a diameter of 5', attach a string to the stake, measure 2-1/2' (or half the length of your circumference) and tie this end of the string to a can of spray paint. Pull the string lightly taut and walk around the stake as you spray paint your circumference (image 1).
Dig the space out to a depth of 6". Then use the same method as above to mark an inner circle 12" in from the outside circle. This inner circle will be the edge of the fire pit wall.
Make a foundation for the stones to sit upon. Mix concrete with water until it reaches the consistency of peanut butter. Lay the wet concrete in between the two circles so it is level to the ground (image 2). Leave the center area free of concrete to allow for drainage. Build up the concrete until it is about 1-1/2" below ground level. Press rebar into the concrete for reinforcement. Smooth the surface with a trowel and let dry for 24 hours (image 3).