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What’s Involved in Building an Outdoor Fire Place?

an outdoor fire place

Adding an outdoor fireplace is one way to spruce up a backyard. It can completely change the ambiance and be a great place to bring your family and friends together. Not only will a fireplace light up the space and make it cozier, but it will also give your property a value boost. It can even give you added privacy, letting you enjoy your barbecues in peace.

If you want to level up your outdoor living space with a fireplace, let a professional help. A landscape specialist will prepare your space and a solid base for the fireplace, and then build the outdoor fireplace of your dreams. This professional has the tools and expertise needed for the job, so all you have to do is sit back and relax.

Steps to Building an Outdoor Fireplace

It might seem like outdoor fireplaces are built from stacked river rocks or ledger stones, but that’s all an illusion. The secret is that it has a hidden structure inside constructed with durable cinder blocks.

Although not entirely fireproof, cinder blocks can withstand extreme heat. Because they’re porous, they can also vent steam and relieve heat pressure, making them ideal for fireplaces.

Veneer stones then cover the cinder blocks for an aesthetic look. The base rests on a sturdy poured concrete slab. Directly on top of the base is an open-front box that stores the firewood. Above that is where the firebox goes. This arrangement is ideal for most outdoor fireplaces because it makes room for the wood. It also elevates the fire, making it easier to view and control.

Building an outdoor fireplace from scratch on your own can be daunting. That’s especially true if you don’t have any prior DIY experience. Spare yourself the stress and exhaustion by letting a landscaping professional take over.

Here are the steps professionals will take to build an outdoor fireplace.

Prepare the Area for the Pad

The first step is locating an ideal spot for the outdoor fireplace. Your landscape specialist will ensure it’s not too close to your home or flammable materials. They will then clear the area for the pad and excavate the correct dimensions. Next, they will flatten and level the ground with a tamper, spread a layer of gravel over it and flatten out the gravel.

Construct the Pad Form

They will cut two-by-sixes into sections using calculated dimensions. Next, they will build the concrete form with a hammer and nails. Once the form is complete, they will place it on the ground and ensure it’s in perfect shape and leveled off. They will also cut the rebar into the correct lengths. To keep the form steady, the landscape specialist will place stakes around it before pouring the concrete.

Pour the Pad Concrete and Let It Cure

After mixing the concrete, the landscape specialist pours half into the form and lines the rebar around the perimeter. Next, they pour in the rest and let it cure.

Form the Wood Box and Lintel

To form the wood box, the landscape specialist will lay the cinder blocks in the correct shape and mortar them on the pad. They will stack the cinder blocks into the appropriate heights, alternating the levels. Next, they’ll create the lintel, a horizontal beam placed across the fireplace opening to support the chimney, and secure it to the front of the wood box for support.

Construct the Firebox

The landscape specialist will mortar the hearth blocks onto the wood box and mortar the seams between the two blocks. Next, they’ll form the firebox atop the hearth blocks using the same method as the wood box. A lintel will be added for additional support. The landscape specialist will finish the superstructure by adding the chimney caps to the top of the firebox.

Add the Veneer Stones

The final step is to beautify the outdoor fireplace with veneer stones. To do this, the landscape specialist will mortar cement boards on the areas where the veneer stones will go. Next, masonry nails will be used to secure the boards. Finally, they will mortar the veneer stones onto the cement boards.

Building an outdoor fireplace involves a lot of planning, prep work, tools and technical skills. If you want a beautiful outdoor fireplace you’d be proud to show off to guests, leave the job to a landscaping professional. They can even help you with other landscaping projects, like outdoor tree lighting ideas.

an outdoor fireplace

What Is the Best Base for an Outdoor Fireplace?

Your outdoor fireplace needs a solid foundation, and a reinforced concrete slab is your best option for its base. It should be around four to six inches thick and provide plenty of space around the fireplace. It should be six inches larger than the structure on the rear sides and at least 24 inches in front.

It’s also crucial to consider the conditions in your area. If you have wet soil or experience constant freeze-thaw cycles, you’ll need a thicker concrete slab with more rebar. The same goes if you’re having a custom outdoor fireplace made, as they are heavier than prefabricated ones.

Regardless of the situation, the reinforced concrete slab is the best choice for your outdoor fireplace because of these factors.

Resistant to High-Stress Environments

Reinforced concrete is the answer to the issues of regular concrete. While plain concrete is durable, it fails in high-stress environments like natural disasters. Because reinforced concrete has embedded steel, it’s a much stronger alternative that resists compressive, tensile and shear stress.

Resistant to Fire and Outdoor Elements

Concrete, including reinforced concrete, is one of the most fire-resistant materials in construction. So you can imagine why it’s ideal as an outdoor fireplace base. It’s also resistant to rainfall and other outdoor elements. Thanks to its low permeability, it’s not affected by dissolved chemicals in water, including carbon dioxide, chloride and sulfates. You can expect your reinforced concrete slab to last up to a century.


When fresh, reinforced concrete is liquid, allowing it to take any shape, size or form. Its versatility is good news for homeowners with specific requirements for their outdoor fireplace base. When it hardens, reinforced concrete becomes a highly durable and resilient material that lasts years.


Reinforced concrete is a widely available construction material at an affordable price. Because it’s ultra-durable, it also saves on maintenance costs. Once it cures, it will withstand the test of time and serve as a trustworthy base for your outdoor fireplace.

If you want to add an outdoor fireplace to your backyard, let a landscape specialist help. This professional will assess the conditions on your property and identify the proper materials and dimensions for the structure and its base. The landscape specialist will ensure your outdoor fireplace is sturdy and meets safety requirements.

an outdoor fireplace

How Far Does an Outdoor Fireplace Need to Be From the House?

While there’s nothing quite as inviting as the warm glow of an outdoor fireplace, there are some safety precautions to consider. One of them is the distance of the fireplace from your house. How far should it be so you can use it without posing any risks to your property and family?

The safety standard is to place your outdoor fireplace at least ten feet away from your house, property line and other structures. If you want to be extra safe, ensure your outdoor fireplace is at least three feet away from flammable objects like plants and outdoor decor and furniture.

Ventilation is another crucial safety aspect for outdoor fireplaces. If you use wood for your fireplace, you must equip it with a chimney for proper ventilation. That’s especially true if your outdoor fireplace is in an enclosed space like a patio.

In addition, your outdoor fireplace needs regular maintenance to function safely and efficiently. Homeowners must remove ash buildup, debris and leaves after every use. You can use a broom or a wet-dry vacuum for this. It’s also ideal to deep clean your outdoor fireplace with warm, soapy water and a brush once a year. Lastly, keep an eye on the surrounding foliage. Cut it back regularly and ensure it doesn’t come too close to the fireplace.

If they are adding an outdoor fireplace to their property, homeowners must observe their area’s safety codes and practice proper maintenance. If it all seems overwhelming, let a professional take over. A landscaping specialist knows the local regulations and will ensure your outdoor fireplace meets them. You can also schedule regular maintenance to keep your fireplace in tip-top shape.

Ready to Build an Outdoor Fireplace? Let a Professional Take Over

Building an outdoor fireplace is a lot of work. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea entirely. A landscape specialist can handle the entire process, from selecting the perfect location to building the structure. This professional will follow the safety regulations in your area. They can also help you with building other outdoor structures, like a pergola.

ABC’s Landscape Experts Can Transform Your Yard

Adding an outdoor fireplace to your outdoor space can make it a cozy spot for the whole family to enjoy. Instead of attempting to build it yourself, contact the landscaping professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our experienced pros can build an outdoor fireplace for your home so you can enjoy being outside more. Plus, we can help with other landscaping projects, like starting an herb garden.

J Zambo

J Zambo joined ABC in 2023 with over 20 years of experience. He is the Lawn & Tree Division Manager, overseeing Lawn Maintenance and Care, Landscaping, Tree and Holiday Lighting for all ABC Austin branches. Before ABC, he was the Vice President of Aloha Arbor Care and Hawaii Landscape Services. J is an ISA Certified Arborist and ISA Qualified Tree Risk Assessor. His favorite quote is “So shines a good deed in a weary world” by Willie Wonka.

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