One thing that we enjoyed this spring during quarantine was hanging out by the fire pit. We have a clearing in our woods that we set up a fire ring out of boulders and some rustic seating. It was perfect for social distance gatherings with friends and family. This summer, the weeds started to overtake it and we decided that it needed a makeover. We wanted to level the area a little better, build a firewood shed and have proper seating. Overall, we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and know it will be getting a ton of use for years to come! Check out the video too see how it all came together and read about all the details in this blog post.
Clearing and Leveling the Area
One of the issues with the old fire pit area was that it wasn’t quite level, or the area that was level, wasn’t big enough. So we decided to grow that level area which meant we had some work to do.
We started by removing the old fire pit stone ring and all the rustic seating around it first. Then I borrowed my father-in-law’s skid steer to level the area quickly. We expanded the leveled area which meant that we needed to tier the lower area where the ATVs would pull up.
Built Firewood Shed
Before moving the firewood stack we wanted to build the new shed to keep it dry. Most of the cutting and construction happened in the shop.
Then we moved the parts to the site and completed the assembly there.
Setting the Retaining Wall & Steps
To retain the soil in the now-tiered area, we used boulders found on the property to create a wall for the front and back of the flattened area.
In the middle of the wall we used some left over timbers as steps. By first cutting out the soil with a flat head shovel and placing the timbers.
Then drilling two holes in each step and hammering in 2ft long rebar to stake it in the ground and keep them from moving.
The Fire Pit
When building the retaining walls we handpicked the best looking boulders to used for the fire pit. Then we moved then into place to create a large fire ring to contain the fire.
To help with drainage and to help with getting air under the fire I added marble chips to the inside of the fire pit. Plus they ended up looking really nice!
Insect and Weed Control
One issue with have a fire in the woods is the bugs. Mosquitos and ticks are the main issue around here. We were able to easily apply insecticide with the RYOBI 18V Fogger. This cordless fogger is really quick and easy to use as it can cover 1000 sq ft in under a minute. We’ve started out using Bifen I/T insecticide and it seems to be working well.
One of the other issues we had was poison ivy. It was everywhere! And even popping up randomly around the fire pit. We treated the surrounding areas and all visible poison ivy with brush killer. Another great RYOBI 18V product is their backpack sprayer. Just like a standard 4 gallon sprayer but the 18V battery does the pumping for you so you always maintain the ideal pressure for spraying!
Removing Dead Trees and Limbs
Some of the trails needed to be trimmed back as well so I swapped the brush cutter for the pole saw attachment and took down any limbs that looked like they could be a problem.
You knew I couldn’t finish up without cutting down at least one tree. This dead tree has been bugging me for a while now because it is right along the trail and it looked like it could fall any day. The new RYOBI 16″ 40V chainsaw can provide all the power I would ever need and more runtime than I would probably ever want. Plus I’ll never have the hassles of working on a gas engine again. No starting or stopping the engine, just pull the trigger and cut.
Adding String Lights
One nice touch we wanted to add was string lights around the area to provide some perimeter lighting after dark (plus they just look cool). We started by installing steel cable to suspend the lights from tree to tree. Then we hung them using zip ties, sliding them into place.
Being in the woods meant we needed to bring our own power. Luckily I just received the 300 watt inverter that runs off the 40 volt RYOBI Battery! We linked 6 strands of LED string lights together, which was under the 300 watt max, and the 40 volt battery can power them for hours and hours!
Mulch and Gravel for Ground Cover
One of the final steps was to cover the entire area with mulch. For this we used natural cedar mulch which will smell nice and help keep the bugs and wees in check.
To add a little extra fire protection around the fire pit we used pea gravel to create a 3 foot ring around it, in case any embers were to pop out of the fire.
A while back we built a couple outdoor benches and an adirondack chair. I love the looks of them and they are really comfortable so we decided to build 4 more adirondack chairs and move them all down to the fire pit. Jamie and I were able to build 4 of those adirondack chairs in only 3 hours!
Overall we are extremely happy with how it turned out and overall it wasn’t a huge expense. Being nested into the woods makes you feel like your camping in the wilderness yet we are only a short walk from the house. I know this will get a ton of use over the years and I can’t wait to make memories down at our new campsite!