How to use focal points in garden design

Focal points in a garden

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Every garden needs more than just plants, patios and grass. How to make a garden more interesting  by adding focal points. Focal points create views, garden art and sculptures can be used, but sometimes simply altering the height of a hedge can also create a more interesting feature.

What can be added to the garden that helps transform it from ordinary into extraordinary? Are there tricks garden designers use, and if so what are they? And how you can make your garden a more vibrant interesting space to be; even if the garden is small and the budget is limited.

Views and focal points

Every garden needs stuff you enjoy looking at, such as a view and or a focal point. The view channels attention toward an area where there is a focal point. The design encourages you to look toward a specific point, but does that make it interesting? And is the focal point itself ‘interesting’? Adding objects and creating a view does not automatically make any garden interesting. We first need to understand how we become interested in something.

Take this view, for example, it’s perfectly lovely, very nice etc – but is it interesting, and if not why not?


What is missing?

Understand the triggers the human brain needs to notice something, these use those triggers in a garden setting.

OK, so are you watching the video? What is it that is interesting you? The mesmerising motion, the change of the shapes, the light glinting on the shiny surfaces. This wind sculpture demands you just watch it, it captures your senses, and not just your visual sense, it sparks your imagination too.

Now what about this?

Here, sunlight and motion make you watch the Pennisetum ‘fairy tails’ gently dance in a breeze.

Motion, changes of light, sound, contrasts between light and dark and noise all make you look and see what is there.

It is this emotional intrigue and NOT what the object is, that interests us.

So although the Anthony Howe wind sculpture is lovely; you don’t need something quite as spectacular to captivate your attention. How to make a garden interesting then is really all about stimulating your senses and creating emotions from those senses.

What emotions are you trying to create?

This is the part that is dependent on individual taste, only you know how you would like the garden to make you feel. It might be you need to feel detached from the busy world around you, maybe you want to feel immersed in the nature around you or perhaps you just want to feel happy! The art, sculptures, and views around the garden should reflect the emotion you seek.

For example, happy gardens don’t just need to be filled with bright colourful flowers, the garden needs to be filled with other things that make you happy too.


A view is created in the garden by drawing your attention to an area. A focal point is added to create the interest, but just adding a sculpture or an urn filled with plants for example; although nice, won’t make the garden more interesting. You need to add emotional interest.

What types of art or sculpture should be used?

The fundamental question you need to ask is how and what. WHAT emotion am you trying to evoke and HOW will this sculpture, water feature, art work help achieve that?

Clearly what interests you will not be the same as someone else, but that is part of the fun of gardening – everyone is different!

Adding features to any garden will not make it more interesting unless that feature ticks an emotional box for you. In my case, I love watching plants move more than anything else, I enjoy watching bees and insects flit amongst the plants and I love the sound of buzzing bees looking for nectar. That makes my garden interesting for me.

Once you understand why you want something; it is easier to find a solution! And there is no snobbery in gardening, you can have whatever you like in a garden – as long as you like it and its interesting!


Sometimes you don’t need a design, you just want professional advice to sort out part of the garden.

Book a 30 minute design consultation.

How could we help transform your garden?

minute design consultation