These Will Make a Garden Stand Out

A focal point can occur naturally, be a purposely placed feature, or be any object that will attract attention to a specific place in your yard. PHOTO | FILE 

For a garden to appear more intentional, it ought to have a focal point.

This focal point is basically a spot an onlooker’s eye lands and is the one thing that sticks on a person’s mind about the entire setting.

Once the eye is captured, it is easy to branch out and notice other plants and features in the garden.

“Essentially, it helps so that the garden is slowly discovered rather than swept through and quickly passed over,” said Pius Mwambingu, a landscape architect in Nairobi.

He says the idea of having an outstanding feature in the garden is to ensure the design does not end up appearing like just a swath of plants.


A focal point can occur naturally, be a purposely placed feature, or be any object that will attract attention to a specific place in your yard. Among the many options that can call attention include an unusual plant or ornamental flower, an accessory, large boulders or a water feature.

Large boulders

As nature has it, nearly every rock and stone finds a new home with a purpose in the landscape. It goes without saying that the largest stones become focal points in the design.

When it comes to boulders, don’t be afraid to go big. The shape should dictate whether the rock should lie flat or stand upright.

Opt for a local rather than exotic rocks so that their colours and nature of the stone authentically represent your region.

To encourage an aged appearance, allow moss to grow on the boulders. This will make them appear as though they have been there for eons.

An unusual plant specimen

Since plants naturally flow with the garden landscape, they offer a simple option for a focal point.

Opt for plant varieties that look great throughout the season, or even better, all year long.

Ensure that you pick plants that can capture attention either by their unique shape or size or by their colour. Plants with colours that contrast with the rest of the foliage are a perfect choice.

Take, for instance, the Japanese maple, this woody plant native to Japan, China and Korea comes with a large assortment of leaf shapes and colours ranging from shades of green to orange, red and purple.

Alternatively, you can go for the Harry Lauder’s walking stick. This deciduous shrub is curious-looking, and wonderfully whimsical.

The dominant feature in this plant is it’s contorted, twisting branches that capture anybody’s attention regardless of the season.

An ornament

The ornament could be an outdoor sculpture, bird bath, pots, gazing spheres or garden furniture.

A man-made feature has more potential to grab the eye than a plant since it stands out and is not dissolved in the surrounding foliage.

The bottom line is that the ornament be displayed properly and with regard to balance and harmony, blending with the scale of the garden.

Garden statues could be sculptures of humans, ancient gods or animals.

A wonderful water feature

Nothing quite calms the nerves than sitting by the garden and enjoying the delights of a waterfall, serene fountain, pond or a bubbling pot.
These can be used to transform a rather plain landscape into something special, providing both a point of interest and attracting wildlife -if you wish.
Take advantage of the natural sunlight which can blend with your water feature to give a unique and attractive ornament.

A group of plants

A group of plants can form a focal point. In the group, you can include the zinging orange-red mass of red hot pokers in the midst of Spring beds (small or large) of tulips.

You can choose a corner where you can sit all these colourful plants that vary in shapes and colour or you can sit them in a gigantic pot at the garden.


This is an outdoor structure consisting of columns that support a roofing grid of beams and rafters. Its different from arbors, gazebos and trellises.

Consider placing the pergola to be in harmony with the other features on the landscape. While you do want a focal point to pop out at you, you don’t want it to dominate the entire yard.