Creating Interest in Your Yard with Focal Points and Special Features

March 01, 2020

One of the things we love about landscape design is that no two yards are the same. Just take a stroll through your own neighborhood and you will see an abundance of diversity and creativity. You will also notice that some yards, no matter how lush or minimalist, are more pleasing to the eye.  Are they better maintained? Maybe, but more likely, they have various elements that are simply more interesting to look at. 



What makes one yard more interesting than another? Focal points and special features that draw you in and give your eyes a place to linger. Just like a fine painting or a photograph, yards, gardens and sweeping landscapes all benefit from good composition. And good composition – in art and landscaping – includes focal points. Without focal points, the viewer is either left with a chaos of too much to see and therefore nothing is seen, or a scene without purpose, rhyme or reason that is all too forgettable.


So, do you need an advanced degree in fine art to create an interesting landscape? Of course, not! You just need to add a few elements – unusual plants, sitting areas, statues or water features all make great focal points – and follow a few basic rules of thumb, the simplest of which is the old adage “less is more”. To help you out, here are a few of our favorite ways to create focal points and add interest to your yard.


  1. Landscape East West Natural Firepit     Proportion matters, so consider the size of your yard as you are looking for special features to add. You may love the large gazebo in your neighbor’s yard, but how would it look in your yard? Is your space big enough or will it feel cramped and crowded? Let the size of your yard dictate the size of the special features you want to add.


  1.     Unusual plants can make wonderful focal points, but we encourage you to be selective and factor in how the plant will look throughout the seasons. If your focal point is only a show-stopper part of the year, be sure to balance it with other points of interest that will carry on the visual show year-round.


  1. Asymmetric design and off-center placement of special features are another way to create interest. You can still have a well-balanced design without having your focal point dead center. In fact, most designers avoid placing special features in the middle of a landscape.


  1.     Have some fun with color. If your yard is a riot of color in one season, but plain green the rest of the year, consider adding splashes of color with containers, lawn chairs or garden art. As you are placing items, though, we encourage you to keep in mind the first three tips above and use the “less is more” approach so your yard doesn’t become overly cluttered and your focal points can stand out.


  1.   Express your style. Yards are much more interesting when they reflect the personal tastes of the owner. Think about a new development vs. an established neighborhood. Yes, the plants are more mature in the older neighborhood, but the yards also no longer look alike. The owners have put their own mark on their yards and the result is a much more interesting landscape overall. And remember, it’s ok to try something different – that’s what makes it interesting!


Our designers at Landscape East and West have years of experience helping homeowners like you create interesting landscapes. So, if you need some design inspiration, check out the special features in some of our past projects. If you want help with your design or installation of special features, contact us today; early spring is a great time to get started!