Gardens With an Eye for Design

Creating an eye-catching focal point in your garden can make a marked visual difference to the completed design, and Martin Neenan, Boningale Garden Creations’ General Manager offers his expert advice here.

A strong and creative focal point can add real design flair to your garden; it can be used to highlight points of interest, as well as to cleverly hide and divert attention away from unsightly areas.  The trick to getting it right is choosing the right location and the right type of focal point.

LocationThe first rule is ‘less is more’.  Too many focal points in a garden can create a confusing space, which in turn will take away the value of creating a focal point.  Next, try and get a feel for your garden; see where your eyes are naturally drawn and use this to test your focal point – remembering to check the position from all different angles of the garden, including the view from the house (and the neighbours, if privacy is required).

Types of Focal Points

  • Objects: Using an ornament, statue, water feature, or a piece of furniture can create a striking centrepiece, especially against an elegant planting scheme. Tip: make sure the object fits with the size and style of garden. Your chosen object can also work to emphasis / compliment architectural detail that is unique to your home.

  • Plants: Using plants as focal points can work really well, as they can create more subtle features. Tip: think about the seasons – if you want all-year round impact for example, choose a larger specimen plant / topiary which come in many different shapes, sizes and colours.

  • Borders: Each flower bed should also have its own focal point, which can be a tall plant or a bright flower. Tip: invest in an unusual species and resist the temptation to centre your focal point – just off centre is more effective.

  • Structures: Summerhouses, garden kitchens, entertainment areas and fire pits can also make striking statements. Tip: look at where the sun and shadows lie in your garden, so you can identify the best position with the most vantage points.

For a smaller garden, you might also want to consider a circular lawn or gravel bed with wrap-around flower beds for a focal feature. The use of mirror(s) is also a good tip, as they can give the impression of a larger space; they will also reflect more light into your garden, as well as provide a focal point.