What is the square footage of the area? Is it full sun or shade? What is there now, do you have grass?
go to the library and check out a couple of gardening books and skim them for a design that makes you smile. I think of rectangles as a canvas in which to create beautiful art. Once you have a picture, go to your local nursery and shove it under someone's nose (who knows their plants) and tell them you'd like to recreate this using plants that do well in your area. Have a color pallet in mind to narrow your choices down. That's what Id do.
And is there any reason you can't plant trees?
A trellis in a large pot with vines as a focal point would add some interest.
But it would help to know how much sun, etc you have.
One thing I have seen is setting 6" treated posts in concrete to form a square or rectangle facing away from afternoon sun. Make a frame across the top and cover with canvas...that plain unbleached lesser expensive works great. Then use plumbing pipe for a curtain rod and add sheets to screen. Then let your imagination go wild as to hardscape (everything from mulch to decorative stone), potted plants, etc. Add a few chairs and you have an oasis. The size of the covering depends on your taste and budget. A small sitting area with a dining area outside and even a fire pit would be great! Make sure you have enough uprights and brace at every corner of posts!
Thank you all for your great ideas. Yes, I can plant trees but want something pretty now. Like the idea of the trellis & the sitting area with a fire pit. Again thank you all so much!
We look forward to seeing what you come up with, Judy. Make sure to post a photo when you finish.
Try surrounding the area by several trellises and covering them with vines.