Stone is one of the finest materials available for use in the landscape. Nothing really captures the nuances of tone, texture, color and light as well as natural stone. In the right hands, stone is also very accommodating to a variety of design ideas and directions. From free form organic to more controlled and contemporary design, stone fits. It is an ideal patio material.
Whether dry set or wet set, there are several important considerations in planning a stone patio:
Do you plan to have large parties and will this space be heavily used, or is this just a spot to sit outdoors on occasion?
Is there a particular view you wish to exploit or avoid?
Should lighting be considered in the overall design?
Is the patio to be a destination in itself, or is it more of a linking element in the overall design?
How to choose between dry-set or wet-set stone:
Dry set stone is placed on a prepared stone base on compacted soil. It is not set on a concrete base as wet set stone is. There are important differences between the two:
Dry set stone will settle over time, and will require maintenance to keep the stones level and well set. This will include removing and resetting stone, and adding sand or stone dust between the stones. Dry set patios will cost about two thirds of the cost of a wet set patio. The space between the stones can be filled with ground covers offering a more casual look than with a wet set patio. If cost is a consideration, and you don't mind the occasional maintenance, a dry set patio could be a great choice.
Wet set stone is placed on a concrete pad and mortared in place. This type of patio is generally more level overall, more suited to heavier use and furniture being moved about, and has a more formal "finished" look. I you wish to minimize maintenance, intend on having heavier furniture or simply like the more polished look this might be the best choice.
A landscape architect can assist you planning the appropriate patio for your needs.