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What Is A Focal Point And Why Does Your Landscape Need One?

By July 26, 2017March 22nd, 2022Landscape Design

Take a walk out your front door and look around the yard. Does anything catch your eye? Anything that stands out and draws attention?

If not, your landscape could be lacking a focal point. On the other hand, if the most noticeable thing in your view is that ugly old drainpipe, then that’s a good example of a focal point gone wrong!

Focal points are features in your landscape design that are meant to draw the eye. A good focal point reflects your personality and your home’s style, adding a special touch that is not only a point of visual interest to appreciate, but can also help take unwanted attention away from some of the less aesthetic aspects of your yard.

Focal points serve other purposes, too. They can turn an ordinary space into something special, invite not only attention but participation, direct traffic, camouflage eyesores, and even add value to your property by elevating your landscape design.

bench focal pointIf you think about it, just about anything can be a focal point – from that ugly drainpipe to a special urn or statue, a solitary tree, even scavenged items like a refurbished old tricycle-turned-planter or reclaimed wood window frame gown over with ivy and climbing plants.

Natural elements make great focal points, too. If you’ve got a pond or lake view, if your home overlooks the ocean or sits atop a tall hill or has a mountain view, then any of these can become a focal point.

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How To Choose A Focal Point

The style of your home and landscape will guide you toward an appropriate focal point. If you love the rustic look, for example, then a stately marble birdbath will look out of place. On the other hand, a natural wood arbor entwined with Wisteria or Morning Glory will work perfectly.

Consider scale as you choose a focal point. A large statue, no matter how much you love it, can overwhelm your small yard. A cherished garden gnome can likewise be lost in a large space. Remember, you want to draw attention – not overwhelm it.

Once you understand your landscape style, personality and even the architecture of your home, you can begin to imagine a focal point. If nothing in particular caught your eye as you gazed around your yard, think about what you might like to see.

pond focal pointUse your imagination! Are there natural elements like an old-growth tree, large embedded boulder or a special flowerbed that can serve as the base? How about that pond or waterfall you’ve always been dreaming of? Scour your garage – you might be surprised by how old junk can become treasures when embedded in a flower garden or grown over with ivy.

Furniture makes a great focal point, too. A cozy seating area will catch your attention and even invite you to sit for a while with a friend.

If you’ve got an eyesore that’s attracting too much attention, consider how you can disguise it as a beautiful focal point. Hide that drainpipe behind a trellis covered in colorful flowers. Fill a large planter with tall grasses to conceal an ugly electrical box on your front yard.

Does everything in your yard seem low and flat? Try adding height with bubbling stone columns or tall grasses. Do you have a stunning view? Enhance it by adding a pathway or framing it with an archway.

There are lots of ways to make focal points work for you. It takes a bit of imagination and some brainstorming, but your reward is a unique and personal landscape to enjoy all year long.

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Tips For Placing Focal Points

The idea of a focal point is to focus, and that means you want to keep it simple. You may have lots of ideas and plenty of materials to work with, but too many objects will confuse your space. Your eye should be drawn to a central point and be able to rest there. If instead your eye is bouncing all over the place, from one interesting feature to another, you’ve skipped “focal point” and gone straight to “clutter.”

Since the eye is naturally drawn to lines, look for places where elements of your landscape intersect, such as a walkway meeting a porch, or at the juncture of two different planting areas.

secret garden pathOther places that seem meant for a focal point include dead center outside a large bay window so you can appreciate it from inside and out, beneath a shade tree where you might otherwise have only had a bare patch of uncooperative dirt, at an entryway where you may have a gateway or arch, or amidst an expansive flowerbed to provide a resting spot for the eye as it wanders over all that beauty.

Corners, pivot points in a pathway, and intersections where different areas of your yard meet are also ideally suited for focal point placement.

If nothing in particular seems to catch your attention as focal-point-worthy, that’s the perfect opportunity to turn a ho-hum space into an extraordinary one by adding a special touch. Whether it’s that old refurbished bike that we talked about with some flowers planted in the basket, a unique sculpture or that water feature or pond you’ve always wanted, you can use the opportunity to add drama, elegance, serenity and even humor to your space.

frog focal point

Using focal points is one of the best ways to transform a space, turning a simple landscape into one that looks more designed and intentional. The key to success is to consider scale, style, color and placement. If you’d like to add a focal point to your yard and bring a touch of something special, get in touch with us for a consultation. We’ll look at your space and design something that will perfectly suit your style and imagination.