Backyard firepits are hot. They can toast marshmallows and melt the soles of your shoes. But mostly, they create a relaxing atmosphere where family and friends enjoy the warmth of relationships as well as the heat from a ring of fire in the comfort of your own backyard.

Like lots of home improvement projects, this one can be purchased, subcontracted or DIY. If price is no object and time is scarce, there are options in every size, style and fuel source. Restoration Hardware, for example, carries a plethora of fire pits in substantial sizes to fire bowls for a tabletop. The Frontgate catalog offers copper and tile firepits that double as coffee tables, along with sculptural firebowls that project a contemporary flair with the enduring attraction of fire.

On the lower end of the price spectrum are simple, enclosed firepits and bowls which reduce the chances of errant embers lifting away. For a small balcony or patio, tiki torches and tiki balls with a stained glass look feature oil inside for the flame. Online stores such as stock a multitude of flaming and tabletop torches which lend an exotic aura to any outdoor setting. One consideration in favor of an oil-based or contained firepit, bowl or torch is the elimination of smoke, coals and embers. They are perfect for small, outdoor spaces.

But if nothing less than the natural best is your goal, and you have the energy and enthusiasm to do-it-yourself, by golly, you can! Like our slogan goes: You’ll improve your home and improve your life. You’ll also add value to the property with another outdoor option for entertaining and enjoyment.

In two or three weekends of planning, picking up materials, digging, concreting and setting stone, you can be the proud owner of a handmade firepit that lasts a very long time. You can even do the planning and buying during the week and have everything at the ready for the start day.

It all begins with finding the perfect location ~ away from buildings, trees overhead and low hanging branches and close enough to comfortably transport beverages and food. Food often translates as marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey® chocolate bars. You know how they stack up. ‘Smores! But, it’s too early for that. First, we need to do some digging.

From the center of the proposed pit, pound in a piece of rebar. Tie a string at ground level and walk around at least 3 feet away to make a 6-foot diameter circle, spray painting as you go to mark the exterior wall of the firepit. Spray paint another small circle one foot from the rebar post.

Dig down about a foot for the pit, or hire Cindy’s dog. She says he’s an ace at digging. Mix cement in a wheelbarrow according to directions on the package, and fill the hole, leveling it the best you can. Take out the center piece of rebar and bury 3 or 4 pieces of rebar in the cement while it’s soft. Cement binds to rebar to create a unified strength and prevent cracking.

To finish the exterior of the firepit, install any decorative stone, blocks or bricks using mortar to hold everything together. Line the inside of the firepit hole with firebrick which is rated for the heat of fire and can be found at home improvement and fireplace stores. Spray paint the top with heat-resistant black paint so soot, ashes and other debris doesn’t show up as stain as it would on any other surface. If you decide to go with a gas line over burning wood, call a professional before you begin to review your plans and see where and when he fits into the process. Once you get the job done, put away the wheelbarrow and tidy up, then it’s time for the marshmallows and accompaniments.

And the soles of your shoes? Well, you know what they say about experience: She’s a tough teacher because she’s gives the test first and the lesson afterward. Eric can tell you from experience that the heat from a firepit can curl up the soles of expensive shoes into unidentifiable blobs. Watch your feet along with those marshmallows.