Love the idea of growing herbs/plants between stepping stones as the ground landscaping. If you have to retain a tree growing out of the middle of your patio - make a feature of it as they've done here by edging it with box topiary.
Idea for top of stone columns Lavender in this kind of container with creeping Jenny around the bottom? LOVE this pot! Lavender in a pot. Comes back every year. Just prune back. Simple and beautiful. Lavender loves the sun. Blooms are darker.