When you look at your yard, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sea of foliage in the garden, or underwhelmed by the monotonous grass? If there’s too much going on to focus on one thing (or maybe nothing going on at all), it’s probably time to consider focal point landscaping. 

Every landscape design starts with a focal point to provide visual interest and organize the yard. Focal points also build sight lines around the property to direct our paths. Read on to learn about establishing clear focal points in your yard and what to use as accenting elements. 

Why Have a Focal Point?

Simply put: our eyes need something to focus on. If there’s too much to take in, the eyes get overwhelmed and can’t zone into just one element. Focal point landscaping pulls people in, and supporting elements or minor focal points help guide sight lines around the yard. And yes, it’s possible to incorporate more than one focal point in a landscape design as long as they avoid close proximity. 

Types of Major Focal Points

Assess your outdoor living priorities to determine the yard’s major focal point. Are you more excited about dipping your toe in a private pool or flexing your green thumb in heavily planted beds? Both of these elements can take up lots of space, so start there. Or perhaps you prefer a structure with intimate dining and/or conversation space to take the lead. Decide what’s most important to include in your backyard oasis and design around that element.  

The Pool

By sheer nature of its size, a pool most certainly serves as a major focal point. Build your design around the pool by adding hardscapes (walkways, stairs, etc.) to and from the house. Once that’s all set, supplement with plants, seating, and more. It’s always easier to start with the largest element and work your way down in the design to accent items.

Pavilions and Structures

Have your heart set on a pavilion with an outdoor kitchen and dining space? Or maybe an architectural pergola with a seating area underneath? Like a pool, these structures are large enough to serve as major focal points in the yard. It’s easier to install the structure first and design around it, rather than tossing it next to well established beds and hoping it fits in the landscape.

Another alternative to a semi-permanent structure is an outdoor firepit and seating area. The pit itself might be far smaller than the other elements we’ve discussed so far, but add pavers/a walkway, seating and even bistro lights overhead and suddenly the small pit becomes the star of the party. 


A voluminous garden is more than capable of filling the focal point role. While there’s some artistry involved in choosing the right plants to work together visually and biologically (for similar sun and water needs), a garden gives homeowners so many options. Lean on plants and tree height for visual depth, but also consider how they might provide privacy from neighbors, too. Within the garden, use a unique or oversized container, or even a sculpture to further define the space. 

Landscape Accents

After the major focal point is in place, use accent pieces and supporting elements of varying sizes to create additional interest throughout the landscape. Pay close attention to the transitional areas between two spaces as these accent items can blend that divide. For example, add a bold planter near a short staircase leading into a garden. This designates a change in the space and draws the eye in.

Walkways and Hardscaping

While hardscaping materials can be part of a major focal point like a water feature or patio, we often utilize hardscaping elements like walkways and stairs to connect different focal points around the yard. Regardless of if you choose bricks, pavers, stones or cement, hardscaping guides our path – both visually and physically – throughout the space.


Landscape lighting not only enhances the beauty of focal points – it’s also quite important for safety. Lighting around a pool helps define the space after dark, but more than that it gives people a visual of the water so they avoid falling in. The same goes for walking paths and stairways. Build in lighting for transitional spaces, especially when the elevation changes. Be sure to consider electrical needs before any hardscaping installation begins as wiring has to occur early on.

Water Features

Fountains, ponds and other water features bring great depth and interest to a backyard sanctuary, but they don’t have to be as big as the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas to make a statement. Water features make excellent additions to garden focal points and can serve as strong supporting elements within the design. If the entire yard is a garden, draw visitors in by placing a small fountain at the back of the space. 

Design the Perfect Backyard Oasis

Whether you’re dreaming about a vibrant backyard garden that’s rich with flowering colors or a sprawling pool deck that’s perfect for entertaining, Brothers Grimm is the landscape and design expert you need. Our luxury outdoor living designs will bring any backyard to life. Discover the wide variety of design and maintenance services we offer, or get in touch to learn more about  focal point landscaping ideas today.