What To Put Under A Fire Pit On Grass To Prevent A Burned And Damaged Lawn

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Can you put a fire pit on grass?

Yes, of course, you can.

However, it will undoubtedly kill your grass.

The heat that radiates from under the fire pit is more than enough to completely destroy the grass.

Within a day or two of lighting a fire pit on grass, you will have a nice dead patch, and it doesn’t grow back quickly, either!

Here’s what you can do to prevent this from happening.

Protect Grass From Fire Pit

protect grass from fire pit
Using the fire pit on unprotected grass

This is my Harbour Housewares fire pit set up on the grass recently.

And yes, the next day, there was a perfectly round patch of dead grass underneath it.

Here’s what it looks like.

what to put under a fire pit on grass
What happens when you put a fire pit on grass – it dies

Alternatively, here’s what happens when you use a fire pit mat that protects the grass.

Here’s the fire pit in action again, but this time with the Safeparty heat retardant mat underneath it.

small fire pit mat for patio
Using a fire bowl with heat pad

And here’s the lawn the morning after…

best way to protect grass from fire pit heat
How to protect grass from fire pit heat

It is perfectly protected from the heat of our cast iron fire pit.

To be honest, I’m not that precious about my lawn right now as we have a large dog that won’t stop digging holes in it and pet rabbits whose hutch also leaves hideous patches everywhere.

It’s a bit losing battle for me at this point, and you can see the grass is already in pretty bad condition.

When we bought the property 3 years ago, it had the most luscious thick lawn, but that was not to last.

However, the fire pit really does destroy the grass to a whole other extent, so I want to protect it as much as possible.

Two strategies to prevent burned grass from a fire pit:

  1. Don’t put your fire pit on the grass
  2. Put something underneath to protect grass from the fire pit heat

Alternatives to setting up a fire pit on the grass include putting it on:

  • An area of wood chips
  • A concrete area
  • A paved area
  • On a deck or verandah

Though some of these alternatives also require protection too.

However, if you’re like me, the perfect spot at your home for the fire pit is on the grass, so it’s all about protection.

Here are three ways you can have a safe temporary fire pit on grass.

1. Fire Pit Mat

protect grass from fire pit

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A fire pit mat is probably the best and easiest way to keep your grass from being killed by your fire pit.

They come in a range of shapes, usually round or square, and in a range of sizes, from small to very large. The can not only be used to protect the grass, but also wooden surfaces underneath as well, such as your deck or patio.

These are simply heat-resistant sheets that prevent the damaging heat from passing through and ruining the surface underneath.

For example, the mat pictured above is a best-seller and has these features:

  • 8 grommets so that you can stake it into the ground to prevent the wind from blowing it
  • Coated with food-grade silicone so that you can pick up a dropped sausage
  • Can temporarily withstand having an ember landing on it
  • Reflective edging to make it stand out more in the dark
  • Meets USFS fire blanket regulations

A fire pit mat is a great way to ensure the grass underneath your firepit survives the night.

Remember that if you leave that mat down for too long, however, that will also kill the grass. It should be a temporary thing.

Check out our list of the best fire pit mats for more options.

2. Pavers

base for fire pit on grass

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Putting pavers underneath your fire pit is another way you can avoid it getting heat damaged.

If it’s only a temporary thing, this is a bit more work to set up and take down again. It will also cause some compression damage to your grass, even if it’s only for a day or two, but this repairs faster than heat damage.

However, pavers make for a better base for a fire pit on grass than the mat. They are a harder and sounder surface, and they can also help raise the fire pit up a bit as well.

If you don’t have any spare pavers you can temporarily use for this purpose, you can just use ordinary bricks that are found in most gardens, large stones, or other similar items.

3. Sand Or Soil

backyard fire pit on grass

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Another way to temporarily protect grass from fire pit heat is to lay down some sand or soil between the lawn and the fire pit.

This method isn’t as good as the previous two, but it’s another good option if they aren’t possible.

The sand will act as a barrier to protect the grass and may prevent it from being scored. It will most likely still be damaged, but it will grow back better and faster than if it is completely killed with nothing there.

You might try coupling this method with some of the other ideas that I’ll share next.

Other Ways To Protect Grass From Fire Pit

best way to start a fire in a fire pit

Some other measures you can take to protect your grass include:

  • Don’t have the fire pit roaring the whole time
  • Watering that section of the lawn well leading up to the event
  • Building up a much thicker base of sand for the fire in the fire pit
  • Raising up the fire pit off the grass with bricks or pavers under the feet
  • Only having the fire pit going for a short time and ensuring you put it out quickly

The idea is to just put a bit more distance between the grass and the heat from the fire pit, so whatever you can do to accomplish that will help prevent lawn and grass damage.

Best Fire Pit For Grass

best fire pit for lawn

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Assuming you don’t want to use additional protection, the best fire pit for grass would have the following features:

  • Raised up higher off the ground
  • Made from a material that doesn’t radiate so much heat
  • Can be used with a good base inside the pit for the fire

Cast iron fire bowls radiate a lot of heat, for example, and are usually quite low to the ground. Therefore, they cause more damage to the grass.

Copper fire bowls put out less radiant heat, while a clay chiminea puts out even less than that.

However, you don’t want to choose a fire pit based solely on whether or not it’s good for the grass. It’s far better to get the fire pit you like the most and then take some steps to protect your grass.

See these backyard fire pit ideas for more inspiration!

How To Build A Fire Pit On Grass

Building a fire pit on grass isn’t something I’ve personally done at this stage, but you can watch this video to see how DIY Backyard Design Ideas did it!

It’s not super difficult, and it’s a project I’d love to tackle in the future, so I’ll create an entire post for that when it happens.

Until then, a good fire pit mat is the best way to protect your lawn from damage caused by fire pits. They are easy to store and pull out at a moment’s notice, and they do a great job of saving your grass while not causing additional damage.

Whether you have a Blue Rooster Chiminea, a stainless steel fire pit, or one of the other constructions we’ve mentioned here already, protect your grass and avoid the unsightly dead patches my lawn has!

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