(Note: This is our last voting entrant!)
"We moved into small one family frame house in brooklyn last year. The back patio is 16x23, all cement, much of which was cracked, chipped, etc. also, the patio featured some nice views over back fence to neighbors trash strewn cement slab. so, we needed something to block that view (golden bamboo)....." [more below]
The black mats on cement are same as those in restaurants, bars, etc.. they're rubber, cover the crummy cement nicely, and were cheap and easy to lay in. They're comfy, too.
Garden plants are ALL IN CONTAINERS, including bamboo, which is raised on platforms behind sheet metal fence. nothing is planted in ground. emphasis is on perennials, for foliage and year round interest. these include jap. maple, golden bamboo, miscanthus grass, sea oats, zebra grass, sedums, butterfly weed, elephant ears, catmint, hostas, etc. some annuals sprinkled around, including potato vine, morning glorys, flowing tobacco, mint, lavender, lemon balm, etc.