Intended use of the patio : Decide how you want to use the patio. Is the patio mainly for alfresco dining or sunbathing or relaxing with a book or all three? The intended use will dictate the size and location of the patio. A patio mainly for dining is best placed where there is some shade so that diners can keep cool on warmer days and seek the sun when the weather is cooler. A patio intended mainly for sunbathing needs to be in a spot where it's sunny all day. If you want young children to safely use the patio, it needs to be somewhere you can see them from the house.
Location of the patio : Most patios are sited immediately adjacent to the rear exit from the house because it is convenient - this may not be the best location for your patio. The back of the house may be shaded all day and therefore not ideal if you wish to like to sit in the sun. Consider a small terrace to the rear of the house with another seating area somewhere else in the garden which gets more sun. When designing a garden it's a good idea to include more than one patio.. One patio can be sited so that it catches the last of the evening sun to provide a warm spot for an evening drink or meal. This makes the garden much more interesting and ensures that you are using more of the garden.
The choice of screening will depend on available budget. Walls are expensive to build, wooden screens with posts and trellis panels are much cheaper. Planting a hedge is usually the cheapest option, but may take a while to grow in unless you can afford large plants or an instant hedge.
When you are figuring out your budget for the patio, you must take into account the maintenance costs of each different type of patio material. You may find that you are better off choosing a more expensive but durable patio materials up front rather than choosing a cheaper one that has a higher average maintenance cost. Also, make sure that you include into your budget for any additional walkways or paths that need to be built.