DIY Tree Stump Fire Pit Tutorial

Cliffs Notes of a DIY Tree Stump Fire Pit Tutorial

DIY your own backyard fire pit in three easy steps!

#1: Chop down a big ash tree.

#2: Have the stump properly shaped for burning.

#3: Burn ALL THE THINGS!

After writing this fire pit post, I was shocked to find it’s one of the most popular (but not as popular as chocolate cake!).

Who knew so many of you were looking to make a hobo pit like us!

 

 

BEFORE WE BEGIN, HERE’S IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT BURNING A TREE STUMP:

#1: This information is PURELY for your entertainment.

This post is about how we handled a new (green – and less likely to burn out of control) tree stump – I am NOT recommending you do this at home.

#2: Safety first if you decide to burn a tree stump.

Always have copious amounts of water at your disposal.

Fires can be unpredictable. A handy hose, ready to go, is always recommended.

#3: Never ever leave a fire unattended.

You’d be surprised how many folks will walk away from a fire in a fire pit.

All the nopes.

Don’t do it.

Now that you have the safety info, let’s get to it!

What happens when you do a Google search on tree stump ideas?

You mostly get planter ideas.

This is kinda that, except it’s a planter for FIIIIIIIRRRREEEE!

Why a stump fire pit instead of traditional tree stump removal?

Simple.

We thought it would be fun and it would save us the cost of having the stump either dug up or ground down.

The plan was to safely burn it over a couple of year’s time, enjoy the fires, and then once burned sufficiently, cover the area with grass.

Safety glasses on, folks.

#1: Have a dead or dying tree that must be taken down.

Consider a removal company for this task, especially if the tree is a giant like ours was.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

This was our beloved giant ash tree, or as we lovingly referred to it: the Big Ass Tree (clever, bordering on the profane is a gift…). 

Ash trees typically have a lifespan of about 30 years and that’s pushing it. 

This one was 35-years plus and it was throwing off branches the size of mid-sized cars; it was time for it to come down. 

Our arborist said it was a testament to our care that it had lived so long and looked so good, but that once the giant limbs start breaking off, it’s time to bring down the entire tree, or risk it coming down during a storm.

The tree shaded most of our house, but the nail in its coffin was that it was located in close proximity to our bedroom. 

I’d get out of bed during every violent storm to see if it was gonna come crashing down and crush us.

Can’t be having that kind of nonsense.

We said our sad goodbyes and took down that mammoth badboy.

#2: Have the crew cut the stump low and semi-inverted.

Or DIY, if you’re that much of a badass by cutting down your own giant trees.

The poor crew.  Out tree was bigger than anyone imagined. 

As they kept cutting; it seemingly grew new branches. 

So. Much. Tree.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

 

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

 

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

Soon, they got it down to working size. 

Come on, fire pit! 

Truth is, this pic still makes me sad, because it was a great tree and I hated to see it go.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

I explained what I was shooting for in the pit and the guys got to work:

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

PULL! PUSH!

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

The stump was a monster.

Success (took a few hours of work and discussion)!

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

The desolate scene of the crime.  Things were looking bleak.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

Not for Dexter: MINE!

The minute the crew left, he declared the stump his.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

After the stump was cut to a manageable size, we advised the crew we really wanted a DIY fire pit.

We had to drive home that we weren’t kidding!

Oh, the looks they gave us.

We knew we wanted a secure place to place the wood to be burned, so we had them cut a basic “v” into the stump.

The inversion: the inside was cut in a slight V angle, so the soon-to-be burning wood would have a place to rest.

BRILLIANT!

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

This was what the sad yard and pit looked like last summer after everything was cleaned and we were ready to burn stuff. 

The tree was so dense that even Texas shade-tolerant St. Augustine grass refused to grow underneath it.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

#3: Start burning ALL THE THINGS in your stump, aka, new fire pit.

Then we built our first fire and both of us were hooked.

All Hail, Tiny Fire!

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial: Updated

That first year, we enjoyed the fire pit frequently (even on hella hot days) and loved that we didn’t pull the stump out.

Since these first pics, we have sodded the area and had many many fires.

Although, Dexter’s enthusiasm has waned; he’s not too happy with our choice.

He hates when we have a fire.

We’ve bribed him with treats, but no-go.

He refuses to sit with us.

REJECTED!

DIY Firepit Tutorial

We’ve come a long way since that tiny first fire.

This is what our fires look like a few years later:

Build it and OMT! will come!

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial: Updated

Grab a drink and let the fire get started:

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial: Updated

FII-YAH!

DIY Firepit TutorialThis is livin’, yall.

We keep going until either the wood is spent:

DIY Firepit Tutorial

Or the drinks (whiskey – beerstrawberry smoothie!) are:

DIY Firepit Tutorial

We’re thinking of adding a fun modification, since Sweet E will be hanging out with us at the pit. 

Garry is going to find/build a grate with legs that can be attached to the pit when we want to grill a few hot dogs and a small pot of chili.

Brilliant!

There is some concern that by using the old stump, we might accidentally ignite a fire in the root system, so here is what we do:

#1) The tree was green when we cut it and it hasn’t been a problem.

#2) We extinguish all fires with an overabundance of water from the hose after we are done having our fun.

#3) If we ever conclude there is a danger, which we monitor closely, we’ll proceed from there with a new plan.

This is what the pit looked like after a year or so of burning.

DIY Firepit

As you can see, progress was being made, but since the tree was green when we started very little of the stump had given way.

With a little TLC and some new sod, this is what she looked like the next year:

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

You can see that the grass has fully grown in and that the remaining tree roots add an interesting design to the hillbilly fire pit.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

Underneath the kindling, is a burnt out spot that grows deeper with each fire.  Once the pit burns down far enough, we’ll add stone around the perimeter to retain the shape:

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

Usually there are chairs and a small table out here. 

After all, one needs sustenance and adult beverages if one is going to engage in a proper fire pit conversation.

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

Making a fire pit out of your tree stump is better than using your tree stump as a table for your potted plants!

Take that Google search!

So far, so good, but as for you and your stump pit, err on the side of caution.

If you think there is a danger to igniting anything other than the stump, don’t do it!

But, if you’re not as hesitant…

THIS!

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

And most definitely, more of this:

DIY Fire Pit Tutorial

When I first ventured this idea to Garry, he was skeptical. 

So Texas hillbilly!

Now? 

Now, he loves that pit as much as I do.

Nothing better after a long day than to head out back, sit by a roaring fire (although, not in the summer. that’s just torture) and let everything go.

Any one else with a DIY fire pit from a tree? 

Anyone?!

Hands down, this has been one of our favorite DIY projects.

It’s great to have a unique fire pit to have a drink by at the end of the week or to start the week.

Can’t wait to get the grate and make some memories with Sweet E.

Like Garry said, “We had so much fun as kids by the fire when we went camping.”

To which I added, “The difference this time will be that we’ll have the luxury of bathrooms and soft beds.”

Yeah, I’m not so much a camper…

What does the tree stump fire pit look like today?

It’s been 6-years since I originally wrote this post, and today there is nothing but grass where the stump once was.

We successfully burned the stump to the point where we could easily remove what was left.

After that, we covered the hole with new dirt and sod.

You’d never know a giant tree was once in that spot.

We didn’t have a problem with the root system burning, but maybe that was because we used abundant caution when extinguishing the fire each time we enjoyed the fire pit.

Happy DIY, my babies!

tree stump fire pit

Original post: August 14, 2013. Updated Post: May 30, 2019.

~I am not a professional fire-pit maker, so know that this tutorial is purely my experience of what we did. Proceed with caution and safety for your situation.~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. That is really cool! I would have never thought to do something like that!!

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      We know it’s kinda redneck, but we love it so! I thought after a year of burning stuff we’d be ready to rock it this year, but that stump is hanging in.

  2. Wow! This is brilliant! Talk about turning lemons (the loss of your beloved tree) into lemonade (the coolest firepit on the block)! Well done!

  3. What a great idea for bringing new joy from an old tree!

    Fire pits are every where on the news here. There are some beautiful fire pits on the beaches here in southern California but more and more of them are being removed because the smoke bothers the neighbors…. AQMD said they were safe so now the goal is to no longer allow the AQMD to decide! I do hope they get to stay.

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      We try to make sure that our neighbors are bothered by the smoke. I love our pit so much, I’d be sad if we were forced to make it a planter (lol).

  4. this is SO something my husband and i would do. AND it helps to get the roots’ dying process sped up — double win!!

    our fire pit is a repurposed old oil can. it was in our yard and broken in half, so we put the cut half buried and put stone around the rest….looks all fancy…cost $0. just like yours.

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      I like fancy for nothing. But, I like paying nothing for something even better! Now I totally wanna see yours.

  5. What a great idea! We have a tree that was taken out this summer, but it’s close to our neighbors, so not firepit!

  6. I would have never thought to do this. And it doesn’t catch the stump on fire? Fantastic!!

    Love for you to link this up on Tell Us Tuesday!

    xoxo Lauren

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      It doesn’t catch on fire because it’s still green.

      • Elizabeth Flanagan says

        OK I definitely want to do this! I have a large tree stump from a tree that I had to have cut down months ago, but unfortunately I’m not sure what kind of tree it is and I know I will have to cut tree stump down shorter than it already is…what I’m concerned about is, doors it have to be the type of tree like yours or can it be any kind of tree? My stump is quite large in diameter & about 4ft high at the moment, until I cut it down a bit to do this…..would love your opinion on this! Please!

        • Elizabeth Flanagan says

          Sorry about the auto-correct, I didn’t catch it! Part of the sentence was suppose to say Does it need to be the same type of tree as yours or can it be any kind of tree? Thanks, I’d appreciate your opinion!

        • I honestly have no idea, Elizabeth. We pretty much winged it. Maybe check some gardening forums for more specific info. Sorry I’m not more help. I can tell you that when we started using it as a firepit the stump was still green as opposed to dried already. I don’t know that I would have done it had the stump been there for a while. Being green meant the stump itself would do very little burning.

  7. Awesome! And kinda weird…as in, our semi-dwarf peach tree chose to die this year, though we were able to get one final harvest out of it! And at the same time, our wrought iron chimanea is on its last leg, my Jeff says we won’t get another season out of it. So, the weird part, he keeps talking about cutting down the peach tree, and using it and the upper part of the chimanea to make a bird bath! All I keep focusing on is when is he going to buy a new chimanea or fire pit or make one….

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      LOL! MAKE ONE! Although, if I’m remembering correctly, peach trees don’t have a wide trunks. It might make a mini-pit!

  8. This is great. I’ve got one of these big stumps in the back yard… Thanks for the idea. Linda

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      If the area around the stump is vulnerable, you can also circle the outside perimeter with sand or small stones. We love this pit!

  9. Great idea. But, not only would I need a bigger tree, I’d need a bigger yard. 😉

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      When it came down I was horrified, then decided to make lemonade from the situation. We haven’t regretted it (but we do have the yard for it).

  10. We’re talking about building a firepit in the pool area, but that’s not quite what I had in mind. Ingenious though! We have no trees in the pool area anyhow. That was pretty interesting way to get your firepit going!

  11. Awesome.
    I enjoyed reading your story. My husband cuts trees, and he said that there are so many huge ash trees out there!

    I just enjoyed reading this.

    FYI—on mobile, it’s kind of hard to read your article and write a reply because the social floating banner cover a lot of the text and the left side of the comment box. I didn’t know if you knew that. I had to really tilt my screen to try to catch the story because of that.

  12. I love this idea!
    And one of my favorite uses for a stump has been to turn it into a planter. I enjoy nasturtiums every year in an old tree stump.

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