Focal Points In Garden Design

Focal points in the landscape can be naturally occurring or strategically placed features or plantings that draw the eye to themselves ...

Focal points in the landscape can be naturally occurring or strategically placed features or plantings that draw the eye to themselves. This gives the design of the garden a more dramatic, orderly look. All gardens need at least one focal point. A small garden may need only one, while larger gardens may need several.

The human eye has a very strong connection with circular forms. Most of us are able to visually find the center of a circle, and we naturally expect to find something interesting there.

In garden design, curved paths and beds are created by using circles, arcs, or circle segments. Our minds naturally recognize these as being a part of a full circle whether they're complete or not. So the deepest point of an inside curve, which is the relevant center of its surroundings, is a natural place for focal points.

By visually moving the line in this diagram to the left or the right you can see that it doesn't feel as natural as it does being placed in the center.

Focal points in the landscape can be as simple as one spectacular plant or group of plants placed among others in the design. For example: Adding taller specimen plants to a group of smaller plants can create a very natural looking focal point in flower beds. The taller plants will stand out drawing the eye to themselves.

Placing the taller specimens in the center of the group is actually more dramatic and interesting than placing them toward the back of the bed.

Also, any dramatic color change in plants will attract attention. White plants especially, or anything white for that matter will always be an attention getter because white is a natural focal. But try not to use too much of it.

One of the simplest and most popular ways of adding a focal point to the garden is by using statues and/or decor (ornaments, birdbaths, bird feeders, etc). Some careful thought and consideration should be given to adding these features to the garden. It's best if these features are the center or centerpiece of a part of your design and don't look as though they're just some thrown in afterthought. Try and keep them fitting with the theme of each particular part of the garden.

"Borrowed scenery" is a focal point that not all of us are fortunate enough to use. Having a backdrop of a distant mountain range, skyline, river, meadow, or even desert scene is a perfect opportunity to create an outstanding focal point. Not only is it a great opportunity to create focal points but also to "blend" your landscape with its natural surroundings.

If you are lucky enough to have a great view, use it, frame it, and build your landscape around it. Keep in mind not to plant trees and large shrubs in the design that will eventually grow up and block the view.

Focal points can be created using just about anything that is natural or well placed.

Large, existing trees should be left in a design whenever possible. Some trees and large shrubs just need a little bottom trimming to make great focal points in landscape design.

Placing flower beds around the base of these specimens enhances their effect as natural focal points. Not only do they create great focal points but they create the illusion that a new garden design isn't a new design at all.

Gazing globes, trellises or arbors covered in flowers, or even large decorative rocks make great focal points. But always give it some careful thought and planning so that your design will always appear well thought out and not just a sequence of pieced together afterthoughts.