When planning an outdoor dining room, consider the paving material and how it will be laid. A larger space may be paved with several materials, which would be too busy for a small space. Here, cut bluestone pavers of different sizes are laid in a random pattern; they are dry set in keeping with the informal garden, and volunteer flowers and moss creep up through the joints. A low perimeter wall made from concrete block and finished with stucco and a bluestone cap further defines the 14-by-18-foot paved area.
To create a sense of privacy, this woodland edge of trees, shrubs, ferns, and shade-loving ground covers creates a buffer, while letting light and air filter through. To maintain views into the front and back yards, those edges of the patio are planted with medium-height flowering shrubs, including hydrangea, summersweet, and azalea. Terra-cotta pots planted with herbs (which can be clipped for cooking), gray-leaved licorice plant, million bells, and black-eyed Susan vine provide even more color and textural interest.