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Garden Focal Points

One of the most effective high impact garden design tools used by professionals is the placement of garden elements as focal points. Creating focal points in a garden gives the eye an object to rest upon, allowing time to visually slow down and explore that portion of the garden. A focal point should be interesting enough in size, colour or shape to attract and keep the attention of the visitor while the objects blend with the surroundings. A garden element used as a focal point will also help a visitor in navigating a garden by providing visual landmarks with which to gauge at what point a person is in the landscape.

One important garden focal point element is the garden entry, a garden entry can be as simple as a low picket fence or as dramatic as a walk-through arbour, as refined as a brick column wall or as naturally appealing as a favourite specimen shrub. The type of garden element(s) chosen will depend on budget and preferred garden style, but by punctuating a garden entrance with the proper placement of a garden element and having a sensitivity to the object's scale, an entry focal point will add excitement, drama and anticipation to the garden experience.

Another important garden design focal point is to create a destination in your garden or a place to 'arrive' as you experience the garden. A destination can be as simple as a bench at the end of a garden path or maybe a pond near a patio or perhaps it's a covered arbour / gazebo with seating to relax and enjoy the views.

Other garden objects in which placement should be carefully planned are elements like pottery, large rocks, birdbaths, fountains, etc. This can make all the difference in how inviting your garden will be to you, your visitors and native wildlife. Objects should be placed in such a way as to make them blend into the garden, as if they have belonged in that spot forever, while carefully placing the object where a visitor can view, touch and appreciate it's place in the garden.

Designing in focal points and destinations will give your garden interest and a sense of place that is one of the design secrets in the success of many famous gardens. Focal points also help give important organization to a garden by setting up a sequence through which the garden will be experienced and viewed.


The low, clipped box hedge is not about wind protection. It is about definition, formal lines and tidiness. The advent of buxus blight and the lack of an easy and cheap alternative to buxus may be a signal that it is time to look at alternative means of getting that definition. Maybe it is time to review the whole concept of tidy edgings - and that is no bad thing. Buxus hedging has become overused and cliched.


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