The addition of a fire element can add a dynamic flair to any outdoor patio design. Even on summer nights the warm glow of a fire adds an undeniably relaxed atmosphere to any outdoor gathering. The addition of a fire element can also provide just enough real warmth to allow you to continue to enjoy your outdoor space well into the cooler nights beyond late summer and into early fall.

Adding a fire element to your outdoor patio design no longer requires a complicated building project such as would be necessary for a stone fireplace as steel fire pits can be placed almost anywhere you want to place them right out of the box. There are models available for less than $100 that can completely transform both the look and feel of your outdoor patio design. This allows plenty of room in the budget for you to explore different seating options.

You may have enough space to add the fire pit directly onto your patio, but if not, or if you want to keep your patio open, then perhaps the following idea will appeal to you. If you can locate a flat area of your backyard that is at least eight to ten feet square then you can add a very stylish fire element with the easy installation of a gravel patio. With the exception of a tiller of cultivator, which you can rent from your nearest home improvement store, the entire operation can be completed with hand tools and will only take a day or two from beginning to end. Check out the video below to watch a gravel patio built using this method, and check out her blog for detailed instructions.

Begin by marking off the area for your new outdoor patio design. We suggest driving small stake posts into the ground at the corners and connecting them with string to define the area for your gravel patio. Bear in mind that you can be as creative as you would like and any shape, combination of shapes, or orientation for your patio. By orientation, we mean to say how it looks in relation to the house.

For example, a diamond orientation is simply a square rotated thirty degrees. If you want your patio in the shape of a circle, simply drive a stake with a nail in the top of it into the middle of the area you have selected. Attach a string to the nail and extend that string to the length of the radius (one half the total diameter, or width) of the circle and tie a large loop in it. Now extend the string to its full length and walk the circle, stopping to place a marker stake through the loop at regular intervals and driving it into the ground to to outline your circle.

The next step is to dig out the area you have marked off with a shovel to about three inches deep. You are going to install stone pavers as edging for the patio to keep the gravel inside. Use the tiller or cultivator to break up the soil and then a tamping tool to create a solid, level surface. Cover the area with landscaping fabric. This will prevent weeds from growing through and also keep your gravel patio from getting muddy on rainy days. Now place your edging around the edges of your design.

Next add your gravel. Rake each layer to keep them level and tamp down each layer with the tamping tool. Fill the space with gravel until the gravel is just below the top of the edging, and that’s pretty much it. All that’s left to do now is place your fire pit and seating onto your new gravel patio.

Adding a fire element is a simple backyard upgrade can have a huge impact on your outdoor patio design, and if you don’t have the patio space for a fire pit and seating area, as you have just read, they’re not difficult to create, and imagine the satisfaction of enjoying a fire pit that you built from scratch.