Fire Pit Turned Water Garden

If you're like me, you don't say no to free. So, when one of my lovely cousins recently moved and offered me their old fire pit, I said yes. Now, I have no need for a fire pit. But since my DIY juices are flowing, I decided to take it and find a use for it.

I picked up the fire pit and hauled it home in the back of my truck. I will admit, I didn't really look at it too closely until I got it home, and realized it needed work. A lot of work.

While it was still in the back of my truck, I ran it down to Home Depot and asked someone to look at it and give me some thoughts on what I could do to repair the cracked, flaking areas. The guy did not offer much hope. He quickly identified that it was made of fiberglass and I'd be looking at a Bondo type solution and he said that Bondo, especially fiberglass, is not easy to work with. So, he can't say he didn't warn me!

I had a friend come over and help me get it out of my truck and in the process we broke off one of the corners on the bottom that was already cracked. So I had to add that to the list of things to fix.

I spent a lot of time deciding whether or not I was actually going to use this thing for fire or not. I really have no use for fire, and I certainly didn't want anything too close to the house, so I spent a lot of time pondering as I sat on my patio to think about where this thing would make the most sense.

Having just completed my first

cinder block bench

on my front porch, I decided that I had the right place for this thing, but it was going to be too close to the house to be used for fire. So what else to do with it?

I considered just sticking a pot in the middle of it and planting flowers. but I didn't want more boring planters. I love water and decided that if I could find the right size container, this would be perfect as a small container water garden.

First, I went over the whole thing with a wire brush to get out anything that was flaking off. I then washed it down with soapy water and rinsed it with the hose. I let it sit overnight to fully dry out. I also attempted to reattach the corner with epoxy, which seemed to first...more on that later.

Bondo Glass was up next. Let me give you the business on this stuff. ERMAGERD this is not easy to work with! It's gooey and hardens fast (especially if you put too much hardener in the mix) and you have to work fast. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn't going to get a smooth finish, so I really focused my attention on filling in the larger areas that had flaked off and just did my best to smooth the rest. I was not able to recreate some of the contours so I decided to just let that go and do what I could.

As I was applying the Bondo to the top, I put just too much pressure while working around that broken corner I had (admittedly half-assedly) epoxied back on, and snap, it broke off on an entirely new place. Now, to my credit, one of the original joints held, it was just in such bad shape overall that the pressure I was putting on the top snapped it off in a new location entirely. Great.

So, my solution to that was to Bondo the shit out of it. I have no idea if it's actually going to hold, but now that it's been moved to its permanent location, I kind of don't care, it's not going to get moved anytime soon. And I got really sloppy with the Bondo at this point and had put too much hardener so it was curing faster than I could smooth it out. Whatever.

After the Bondo was on and dry (which doesn't take long at all), I grabbed a sandpaper block and sanded it to just smooth it out and get rid of the spiky stuff.

For the paint, I picked out a couple grays - a little darker for the top and bottom and a lighter color for the middle part that looks like brick. I figured gray would work best since it would be on my patio (the pavers are shades of gray) and since this thing looks rough it would give it kind of a stone look. Once again, Behr Marquee is the bomb - one coat coverage.

I had looked around for a container to put in the middle (30" diameter) that would be watertight and found a perfect one at the local Tractor Supply. This worked out perfectly - items advertised as "pond liners" are way more expensive so this was I think some sort of animal watering tub or feed tub. Amazing how the name of something can change its price!

I did need to boost up the container by placing it on some bricks, so fortunately I had some unused pavers lying around and just laid them out (stacked 2) to provide a platform for the container. I dropped a few bricks into the container so I could have different depths for the plants I chose, and tossed in a container fountain I had lying around (from a previous fail) and it looks awesome.

In fact, I'm sitting on my bench, feet up on the edge of the pit, listening to the calming sounds of the fountain as I type this, waiting for the new plants to grow. It's a beautiful day!