How To Create a Sunken Seating or Sunken Firepit Area In Your Garden

February 2022
Anton White

One of the hottest trends in Garden Design right now is Sunken Seating Areas.  Just by recessing part of your outdoor space below the level of the surrounding area, it’s possible to create a truly magical area in your garden, one which will provide many years of enjoyment and relaxation.

As this trend continues to grow in popularity, we are frequently asked by our customers “Is there a simple way to create a Sunken Seating Area in my garden?”  Well, thanks to some exciting new products, the answer is yes!

In this article we will clarify what exactly a Sunken Seating Area is, and explore what is likely to be involved if you are thinking of creating your own Sunken Seating Area in your garden. You can browse our Sunken Seating Area Kits Here!

What is a Sunken Seating Area?

You may have heard of this idea referred to in different ways; ‘Sunken Seating Area’, ‘Sunken Firepit Area’, ‘Sunken Patio’ or ‘Sunken Garden’ to name a few.  Well, they are essentially all the same thing.  They refer to an area or zone in your outdoor space which is set at a lower elevation from the surrounding area.  For simplicity in this article, let’s call them Sunken Seating Areas!

Sunken Seating Areas can provide a cosy and secluded feel – whether you would use yours as your relaxing oasis of calm, or as your favourite setting for entertaining friends & family, a Sunken Seating Area is likely to become your new favourite Outdoor Space!

With our Tectonic® Sunken Seating Area, we’ve take a rapidly growing garden trend, and made it possible to achieve with relative ease in almost any outdoor setting!  Our uniquely designed Sunken Seating Areas are quick to build with minimal mess, and can incorporate porcelain paving, composite decking, and a perimeter planter to give that added connection with nature.  Read on to explore whether this is the right thing for your garden, and we would love to hear from you if you with any questions – why not get in touch?

What is Involved in Creating a Sunken Seating Area?

We’ll go through these 3 areas to gain a better understanding of what is involved if you are thinking of creating your own sunken seating area:

  • Important Things to Consider When Planning a Sunken Seating Area
  • Step-by-step Guide to Building Your Sunken Seating Area
  • Accessories, Ideas & Additions for Your Sunken Seating Area

Important Things to Consider when Planning a Sunken Seating Area

  1. Decide the Size – The two things to think about with regards to the size of a sunken seating area are proportion to the overall size of the garden, and the number of people likely to be using the Sunken Seating Area. If you won’t using it for more than 6 people, we would recommend building a small Sunken Seating Area of 3x3m or 4x4m, to make it as ‘cosy’ as possible.  If you will be entertaining larger number you will want to consider a larger space of 5x5m or larger – A typical 5x5m Sunken Seating area will comfortably seat 15 people for a garden party!
  2. Choose the location – A Sunken Seating Area is a great way to bring an unused area of your Garden to life. Consider locating away from the house with a path leading to it to give that proper outdoor feel.  Think about where the sunlight is when you will be using the space, a view of the sunset in the evening would really top off the experience!  If you can make use of the ground elevation, that can often reduce the amount of soil that needs moving, and aid drainage – consider using an area where the ground drops away naturally to help you.
  3. Ensure sufficient Drainage – As you will essentially be digging into the ground, be aware of the risks associated with poor or insufficient drainage – the last thing you want is water backing up after heavy rain and making a mess. As mentioned in the last paragraph, utilising a naturally sloping location for your sunken seating area can help significantly with this, and in the ‘Step-by-step Guide’ section coming next we will go into more detail on this.
  4. Choose your Finishes – Composite Decking is a great option for the seating and planter elements of a sunken seating, as it is easy to install and gives a warm and inviting finish. If you want to create a Sunken Firepit area by including a open firepit, we would strongly recommend using paving on the floor to protect against the heat of the fire.  Decking and Paving combinations can really bring your garden ideas to life!

How To Create a Sunken Seating or Sunken Firepit Area In Your Garden

Step-by-step Guide to Building Your Sunken Seating Area

  1. Mark out the size and position of your sunken seating area. You will want to dig the whole 400mm larger than the outside dimensions of the sunken seating area you are planning, to allow for a 200mm drainage cavity around the perimeter.
  2. Excavate the area – Depending on the size of Sunken Seating Area being built, an excavator may be required to do the bulk of the earth moving. Dig the area to the required depth, allowing an additional 200mm around the perimeter (from outside edge of sunken seating area), and 300mm additional depth (below bottom of sunken seating area) to create your soakaway zone.  If the ground is still solid clay at that depth and you are concerned it might not drain sufficiently, you might want to consider a land drain away from the soakaway underneath the sunken seating area extending to some lower ground.  If you would like to discuss with our team feel free to get in touch with us.
  3. Prepare the ground – Once you have excavated to the required depth, lay a non-woven geotextile membrane in the hole, up the sides and extending approx 50cm beyond the edge of the hole around the perimeter. Fill the base of the hole with a 200 – 300mm deep layer of clean Soakaway Gravel, ideally 30 – 80mm size.  Level the stone and compact as necessary.  You are now ready to start building!
  4. Build Your Sunken Seating Area – firstly we would recommend creating a free draining paving or decking base in your sunken seating area, so that rain water drains through the whole area rather than relying on a specific drainage outlet which is more susceptible to becoming blocked. All of our Tectonic Sunken Seating Areas have free draining floors making them perfect for this purpose.  Tectonic Premade Steel Frames create a rigid structure, and are then clad with either Luxxe™ or Classic™ Composite Decking.  The floor is either constructed from the same decking material or we can supply with a Porcelain Floor if you want to put a firepit in the centre.  For more installation details explore our Tectonic Sunken Seating area!  Once in place, fix the plastic retaining board to the back of the sunken seating area frames using the fixings provided, extending down to close in the pedestal cavity below.
  5. Back fill the perimeter drainage cavity with more of the same soakaway gravel, filling to 150mm below ground level. Then flap the non-woven geotextile membrane towards the centre of the area to cover over the stones, and up the back of the sunken seating area.  You can then back fill the last 150mm of depth with top soil, bark or decorative stone to finish off around your new sunken seating area.
  6. Relax & enjoy!

If you would rather construct your Sunken Seating Area using traditional methods rather than the Ovaeda® Tectonic® Frame method, we would recommend you consult a suitable landscaper.  Traditional methods typically involve a concrete block retaining wall around the perimeter, a screed floor with drainage outlet etc, and typically will take longer and create more of a mess in your garden than the Ovaeda method.  If you’d like to discuss the pro’s and con’s with a member of our team before making your decision, please feel free to get in touch!

How To Create a Sunken Seating or Sunken Firepit Area In Your Garden

Sunken Seating Area Accessories, Ideas & Additions

If you’re liking the idea of a Sunken Seating Area in your Garden, why not have a think about adding your own unique touch to your design with some of the following ideas!

  • Firepits – A wood-burning or gas firepit makes the perfect centrepiece to our outdoor space, and with a porcelain paved floor, you can rest assured this is perfectly safe and brings an added touch of warmth. View our range of stunning Gas Firepits
  • Lighting – Tectonic Sunken Seating Area are supplied with an LED illuminating strip around the base of the seat, however you can easily add more amazing lighting features – view our garden lighting range
  • Pergolas – If you’d like to be able to use your Sunken Seating Area when our Great British weather is doing its thing, why not think about covering it with a stunning louvred aluminium pergola!
  • Cushion & Rugs – finish of your area with our range of cushions & rugs
  • Candles – Think about introducing outdoor candles and lanterns to create a warm and cosy atmosphere
  • Plants – Choose a Sunken Seating Area with a Perimeter Planter to provide extra privacy and the softer finish of flowers and shrubs.

Is a Sunken Seating Area a Good Idea for Your Garden?

Hopefully this article has helped you understand better what a Sunken Seating area is, and why they are such a popular garden feature.  If you are looking to create a wonderful and unique outside space, which is relatively straight forward to construct, then a Sunken Seating Area might be just the thing for your garden!  If you would prefer a professional installation, we would happily put you in touch with one of our approved installers – or if you have a landscaper lined up and would like them to install a sunken seating area, we would be very pleased to hear from them and guide them through the process.

Next Steps

Get in touch with us at Ovaeda to discuss your project, email us on or get in touch by phone on 0208 159 2999.

Or get the ball rolling by order your free of charge Samples

We’re really looking forward to hearing from you!