How to Landscape a Small Yard | Ask This Old House

Build It
In this video, This Old House landscape contractor Jenn Nawada and mason Mark McCullough help a homeowner with the first phase of her small backyard landscaping project: a stone fire pit for her and her husband.

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Jenn Nawada takes us on a trip to Georgia to help a homeowner add a fire pit to their small backyard. With the help of mason Mark McCullough, the two find the perfect place for the pit and get to building.

Small backyards can be difficult to landscape. Every aspect of the design has to be intentional and serve a purpose, and there isn’t much room for careless feature placement. In this Georgia backyard, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada and mason Mark McCullough help a homeowner find the ideal spot for the first phase of her backyard project: a stone fire pit.

Difficulty: ⅕
Cost: Between $250 and $600, depending on the chosen kit
Time: One day

Where to find it?
Jenn and Mark help a homeowner create a landscape plan and install a fire pit. Special assistance was provided by Jordan’s Legacy Landscaping [].

After the homeowner shares her ultimate goals for her backyard, Jenn discusses an overall plan that can be executed when time and budget allow. Mark advises to be sure not to position fire pits in a hazard-prone areas. When choosing a location you should avoid wooden sheds, bushes, and low hanging trees. Once a good location has been selected, contact the local utilities companies to be sure it’s safe to dig.

Install Fire Pit
1. Lay out your first layer of blocks on top of the level gravel base. Be sure the sides of the blocks are touching.
2. Place the blocks one-by-one around the perimeter of the hole, pushing them together and using a level to make sure the height stays consistent.
3. If necessary, add leveling sand beneath low blocks or tap high blocks down with a rubber mallet to keep everything even.
4. After finishing the first row, check the layer in several places with a long level to be sure the
structure is even.
5. Then, temporarily assemble the second level of blocks, making sure to stagger the joints between rows.
6. After temporarily laying out the second row, test-fit the fire pit bowl to make sure the lip rests fully
on the edge. Remove the bowl and adjust the positioning of the blocks if needed.
7. Use construction adhesive between the layers of blocks to secure the concrete block pavers as you build the fire pit walls.
8. Remove the second row of blocks that were temporarily placed.
9. Add beads of construction adhesive to the bottom layer to bond everything in place.
10. Refit the second layer of blocks and continue the process for the third row of blocks.

Looking for more step by step guidance on how to complete projects around the house? Join This Old House Insider to stream over 1,000 episodes commercial-free:

Stake or rebar []
Crushed stone []
Sand []
Fire pit kit []
Construction adhesive []
Marking paint []

Tape measure []
Mason’s or landscaping string []
Shovels []
Tamp []
Level []
Rubber mallet []
Caulking gun []

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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How to Landscape a Small Yard | Ask This Old House

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