May is one of the loveliest times of the year here and it’s usually the time when we start using our garden more. A garden is a great asset, somewhere to sit and relax or just to potter around in and enjoy how everything is developing.
But if you’re unhappy with how your garden looks and don’t enjoy spending time in it, here’s some information to help you get it right.
There’s a set of guidelines (often referred to as principles of garden design) that professional designers use when we’re planning a garden.
Using these guidlines will give you a sense of direction, use these and you won’t feel completely overwhelmed about how to begin improving your garden.
Using focal points in a garden is one of these main principles.
Imagine a sea of green without any changes in shade or shape, then add a shrub with coloured foliage, a contrasting shape or a piece of sculpture (but only one of them), and it immediately becomes more interesting.
That’s your focal point, very simple but extremely effective.
- In a large garden a focal point gives the eye something to aim for, a point of interest.
- Glimpsing a focal point in another part of the garden can encourage you to explore, it’s a method of subtly guiding you through a garden from one area to the next.
- You can use a focal point outside your garden, maybe a lovely tree in the distance (this is called a borrowed view).
- Use focal points at the end of a path or through an archway. A sense of mystery is to be encouraged, so avoid using archs without any height either side of them, it’s a bit pointless if you can clearly see what’s on the other side.
Focal points can be man-made or natural, a single specimen tree can fit the bill. I like to use Acers for this, because they have such a beautiful shape all year round and get even better as they age.
Focal points are useful in small gardens too, you focus on the focal point and not immediately on the boundaries, sounds simple but it really works.
How could you use focal points in your garden?
images: Jill Anderson