Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 2

Step Two: Establish Focal Points

Once you have arranged the permanent elements of your garden, the next step is to establish your focal points. Focal points are where the eye comes to rest in a garden. They help give a garden direction and energy. You have many options to choose from: a place to sit, a fountain, a piece of garden art, a single special “specimen” plant or tree, a central planting bed – or even a vegetable garden. The key, however, is that your focal point must be something permanent that is special or beautiful. When deciding on your garden’s focal point, think about what you love and then arrange the rest of your design to highlight it. You can do this by making a pathway lead to your focal point, encircling it with low-growing plants, or giving it a background of monochromatic plants so that it stands out. Focal points draw the eye by being a different material, color, or height than their surrounding environment.

Focal points should be in proportion to the scale of the garden and reflective of your chosen garden style. The larger your garden, the larger your focal point or points can be. You can also use focal points to enhance the sense of space in your garden. For example, in smaller gardens, a focal point toward the end of the garden’s longest view – rather than right in the center of the garden – will create a more spacious feeling. Whatever you select, a focal point defines the character of the space and gives everything else in the garden a reference point.


Step 1 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5

Find the book at Johnson’s for more information

Bennett, Leslie and Stefani Bittner. (2013). The Beautiful Edible Garden. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Creating a Beautiful Garden: Step 2