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Landscape Focal Points and Specimen Plants

by | Mar 5, 2022

Have you ever prominently displayed a favorite photo on a wall? Have you placed vibrantly colored pillows, cushions, or throw blankets on a nice couch to draw more attention to it? Or have you ever chosen certain colors, clothing styles, or accessories to complement or emphasize a particular physical feature?

If you’ve done any of those things or something similar, then you’ve used focal points. By definition, a focal point is any object or feature that a person highlights in order to attract attention to it.

Focal points can be a part of landscaping just as they can exist almost anywhere else. Landscape focal points can be natural features, or they can be additions planted or installed on a property.

A focal point in landscaping does more than merely draw attention to it. Adding order, dimension, and character are other functions. It can also make a yard more attractive by drawing attention away from other features such as a trouble spot in the lawn, utility boxes, or even a nextdoor neighbor’s unattractive yard or home.

Choosing and Designing Focal Points

When creating or installing a focal point, there are a number of things to consider:

  • Yard size is important for proportionality. You don’t want a focal point that’s too small to attract the notice you want or so large that it overwhelms or feels out of place.
  • The focal point should match the style of your existing yard and garden. If it doesn’t, it will look out of place, especially if the contrast is particularly strong.
  • Take into account how seasonal changes will affect the appearance of the focal point. You want it to look great all year long.
  • A focal point usually should look great from whatever angle one views it from.
  • Be attentive to symmetry and natural lines of sight that will draw eyes to the focal point.
  • Sometimes, muting the effect of nearby features helps showcase the focal point. If it’s one of several striking features near each other, it won’t stand out as much.

Types of Focal Points

Since almost anything can be a good focal point, there’s no definitive list of what you can use. We’re just going to share some of the most popular ideas as well as some others that we really like.

  • Water features. Ponds, fountains, and waterfalls are some of the most aesthetically attractive features you can add to a landscape, and you can use lighting features to make them stand out at night as well.
  • Boulders and terraces can add a dramatic look and feel.
  • Wildlife lovers will appreciate a station for feeding birds or attracting other animals.
  • Statues and sculptures can lend an air of elegance or artistry.
  • Structures like arches, gates, and pergolas can create a beautiful effect while also adding function.
  • Specimen plants, which we’re next going to talk about in more detail.

About Specimen Plants

Are you brushed up on your Latin? If so, you might remember that spec- is a root that means “to look at,” hence words like spectator, inspect, and, of course, specimen. Thus, a specimen plant is one that you would single out because it commands attention.

Usually, people go with trees as specimen plants because of their size and stateliness, but shrubs, perennials, and other plants work provided that they’re sufficiently large, striking, or unusual. Flowering and evergreen trees make good choices, but anything with a unique shape, size, or variety can work. Here in the south, you will often see a massive weeping willow or live oak with its own special spot on a lawn. That’s a perfect example of a specimen plant.

A property might already have a tree or other plant that you can feature. In that case, you’ll look to maintaining that tree’s appearance and working on the surrounding area to create the setting you want.

In cases where you’re going to plant something new, though, it’s a good idea to consult with a local landscaper who knows the region’s climate and soil types and who can make recommendations that will work well for a particular property.

Professional Landscaping Solutions by LandArt

Ready to add a focal point or specimen plants to your yard? At LandArt Solutions, we bring a combined 20+ years of experience in the landscaping industry to our projects. We can help you identify possible focal points or locations for them, help you design one, and install/plant them. By going with a pro, you’ll save time and effort, and you’ll know that we’ll do the job right using the best materials on the market.

Contact us today to get started!

Michele Horn

Michele Horn is an industry leader who takes pride in building a passionate team, creating vision, and empowering her team members for success. She has over 20 years of experience working with people to provide excellence in service, she is passionate about building community, and takes pride in the success of those she mentors. Her experience in education, the arts, non-profits, construction, and small business has allowed her to be relational and accessible to her clients, her employees, and to business and community leaders alike.

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