Eye on the Prize: Creating Garden Focal Points

Draw attention to your garden centerpiece with these simple tips.

Winding Steps Provide Garden with Focal Point

Winding Steps Provide Garden with Focal Point

A winding flight of steps provide a focal point in garden design. Plants are used along border of steps help draw eye to the winding steps and soften the look.

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Gardens often benefit visually from a dramatic or arresting focal point, be it a statue, pot, or plant, which provides a point of reference within the design where the eye can rest.

Eye-Catching Trees

In a garden that seeks to recreate the wild, focal points need to be natural objects, such as rocks or specimen plants. In this Mediterranean-style garden, the gnarled trunks and silvery foliage of a pair of old olive trees are as arresting as any classical sculpture.

Winding Steps

Even a utilitarian feature such as a flight of steps can provide a focal point, as long as it is well executed. Winding steps passing through lush foliage lead the eye on to brighter, more vibrant flowers and foliage, which then act as a visual stopping point.

Dramatic Containers

Attractive pots and containers, planted or otherwise, are one of the simplest ways of creating a focal point. Used alone or in groups, they can be placed in a border, on a patio, or at the end of a pathway, perhaps terminating a vista. Large, impressive pots are often best left empty; others can be enhanced with a dramatic plant, such as a Dasylirion.

Focus on Color

Brightly colored plants make small-scale focal points in beds and borders. The vivid flowers of bulbs, such as these orange tulips, provide short-term accents, lifting other plantings and heightening interest. 

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