Create your own firepit area with Strol PebbleLock permeable pavers
What is a brazier fire pit?
For over a million years, humans have gathered around firepits. It has always been a place where communities come together, for protection, for food, to share stories and create bonds. These days, of course, we’re not standing semi-upright in caves. The outdoor firepits of today are well developed areas designed for our back yards, but the concept remains the same. It’s a place where we invite friends for food, a few beers and lots of laughs. We can easily build a firepit and install a brazier bought from a local store, but what about the area surrounding it? We don’t want to be standing around in the mud and dust all night, so how do we create dry outdoor areas to sit and stand on with friends, even straight after it rains?
In this blog, we’re going to look at a great DIY solution of building permeable paving areas around our brazier firepit with PebbleLock permeable pavers, which will allow us to enjoy good company with our mates all year round.
What is permeable paving? And why is it ideal for your back yard?
For any project intended for use outside, weather is a key factor in deciding what we’re going to build, how we’re going to build it and when the best time will be to use it. We’ve all been to weddings and garden parties hoping for blue skies, only to have it rain the day before or even just before the party begins, leaving guests turning what was dry ground to mud. The same can be said for the patio area around our brazier. It’s where everyone will be gathering, so we want to find the best way to create a dry, stable area that won’t get bogged down when it rains.
The best solution for outdoor firepit ideas in your backyard uses PebbleLock permeable paving.
Advantages of PebbleLock pavers:
- Easy to install.
- Cost effective.
- Allows excess water to just pass through and soak into the soil below, leaving the pebbled surface layer dry and always ready to use.
- Made from 100% recycled plastic.
- The panels have a honeycomb design that locks the pebbles in place, creating a natural hard surface.
- It acts just like concrete or asphalt, but it’s much better for the environment.
- Water gently feeds back into your surrounding garden rather than pouring straight off the surface and scouring the soil away.
- Functions best when placed over a layer of geotextile and drainage aggregate.
Aesthetically, of course, it looks great. PebbleLock can be easily cut to suit any shape you require. You can extend pathways to the house, use it on stairs up the bank, and it’s strong enough to take the weight of any seating or tables, allowing you to create the basis of your ultimate backyard.
How do I build a firepit patio?
For this project, Jake was looking to turn an unused, grassed corner of his property into a sheltered spot around the brazier that friends and family could enjoy.
Step 1: Excavate
Jake marked out exactly where he wanted the pebbled area to be, then excavated that space 100mm – 200mm below the surface level. This allowed enough space to add various aggregate layers, the paver and pebbles. Depending on the size of the area and accessibility, it’s ideal to use a small excavator, but you can dig the area out by hand.
- Make the area as flat as possible, though a slight slope toward your drainage is ideal.
- Remove all sharp stones and roots to protect the geotextile layer you’re about to put on top.
Step 2: Geotextile
Line the entire area with SureTex Geotextile. This fabric provides two very important functions and should always be done when you’re installing a patio, path or especially a driveway.
- Essentially what you are doing is separating the soft soil layer you’ve just exposed from the harder aggregate layers you’re going to put on top. SureTex Geotextile prevents the stones from sinking into the softer soil. Without a separation layer, the surface layer will slowly sink into the ground, and that’s when you end up with dips, ruts, potholes and puddles. Even if the soil underneath collapses due to water scouring it out over time, SureTex Geotextile is strong enough to support the upper layers.
- The other key purpose of SureTex Geotextile and permeable paving is to allow water to evenly pass through and filter into the surrounding garden. When it rains, water will naturally pass through the pebbles and pavers, it will feed through the aggregate, then it will soak through the geotextile, feeding back into the soil. Excess water will run along the geotextile toward your drainage, but now, instead of feeding dirty water into your stormwater system, only clean water reaches the drains. This process means that even during the heaviest of rain, water has time to filter through each level and drain safely away as opposed to being forced off the surface straight away or scouring the underlying soil away.
SureTex Geotextile is available in handy 4m x 5m and 4m x 10m packs. It’s easy to cut. Just make sure that when you lay it out, make sure to overlap any edges by around 200mm, and put the top layer on the upper side of the slope so water can naturally flow toward your drainage.
Secure the fabric into the ground using Strol flathead WeedMat Pins. Although SureTex Geotextile is not considered a WeedMat, it will help prevent weeds from growing through. PebbleLock pavers, SureTex Geotextile and WeedMat Pins are available at your local Bunnings store.
NOTE: If you have a free-standing brazier that’s raised off the ground, you can line the entire area with SureTex and PebbleLock. If you’re looking to install a built-in firepit, cut an initial space into the SureTex geotextile to fit where you’re going to place your fire. In Jake’s case, he’s lined the entire area.
Step 3: Drainage aggregate
Next, Jake placed a 50mm – 100mm layer of drainage aggregate (GAP20) evenly across the geotextile, using a compactor to flatten it out. As the underlying dirt layer was sloping toward his drainage, he could now create a level surface area once more.
At this point, Jake also marked out where he wanted to place the ring of bricks surrounding his brazier, then concreted them in.
Once compacted, he covered the GAP20 with a 20mm layer of finer aggregate known as GAP7 or crusher dust. This is what the PebbleLock pavers will sit on, with the finer aggregate allowing the pavers to nestle firmly in.
Step 4: Laying the pavers
Working from the 90o corner beside the main shed, Jake then placed the PebbleLock. PebbleLock pavers use a clip system to lock themselves in place, so just work left to right. You’ll want to avoid leaving footprints in the crusher dust, so always stand on a paver to place the next one.
When he reached corners, odd angles and the ring of bricks, Jake was able to easily cut each paver using a circular and a reciprocating saw, with any offcuts able to be placed elsewhere. He was even able to place PebbleLock within the ring of bricks, so water would still drain from underneath the raised brazier.
Step 5: Add stones
All that’s left now is to cover the entire area of PebbleLock with 8-14mm decorative stones of your choice. Cover the pavers by about 10mm, or until you can’t see them. As with the aggregate, it’s easiest to brush them in place with an outdoor broom. Jake filled the centre of his firepit with larger stones for aesthetic value. He used a solid paver to set the brazier on, but the pebbles are stable enough to use as they are. All that remains is to add some outdoor seating.
Step 6: Pour the wine, sit back and enjoy!
Jake found the entire process simple and easy to install. The combination of our dry summers and heavy rains means water management within residential landscape design is now more important than ever, so the more responsible we can be in how we manage water flow will help keep our environment clean and stable. He’s found that PebbleLock has also prevented water from building up against the exterior of his sheds, reducing any chance of rot. But best of all, rain or shine, PebbleLock has allowed Jake to turn an unused area of his property into a dry, stable, permeable patio his entire family can enjoy.