Whenever the weather warms up outdoors, your backyard is going to be a place of enjoyment for you and your family. It can be great fun to choose which plants and flowers should be a part of your backyard, but have you thought about a focal point?

Your backyard’s focal point should be a decorative piece that instantly draws eyes. Whether it be something with a use like a bench, or less useful like a fire pit, it looks great to have a focal point away from the rest of the greenery.

What makes an attractive backyard focal point?

There are a number of things to keep in mind when picking out the right focal point for your backyard. The goal is for visitors to be quietly impressed by the stature of the piece, but not to think that you have tried too hard.

  • One main focal point. Unless you have a truly huge backyard, attempting to weave multiple focal points into your design will result in an overwhelming look.
  • Consider where the eyes are naturally drawn. When looking at a backyard from the house, people tend to first look straight down the backyard path. Our eyes tend to follow straight lines, so placing your focal point here means that it is naturally going to be noticed.
  • Make use of minor focal points. While you should only have one main focal point, you can use minor ones to your advantage. Whether it be groups of plants, or a tree with a unique color, place minor focal points on other natural lines of sight. An idea could be to place minor focal points near the house, as this area will be a focus of attention when enjoying being in the backyard.
  • If using a plant, surround with simplicity. Let’s say that your backyard’s focal point is a stunning type of plant – you want to surround it with much more simple plants. This way, they complement your focal plant without taking away from its stature.
  • Something homely. Using the example of a bench, it is a great idea to have a focal point that conveys the message that your backyard is somewhere to relax. A bench can be a striking reminder to take it easy, and remember to enjoy the beauty of your backyard.

Now that we have explored some rules of thumb for designing a backyard focal point, we can take a look at some focal point ideas.

Focal point inspiration

  • Unusual plants and trees. It can be a good idea to pick a plant or tree that is peculiar in nature. Whether it be because of shape or color, they will stand out from the crowd. Plants are a ‘safer’ focal point than structures because they will easily blend in with the rest of the backyard. A couple of unusual plants include red twig dogwood or, as seen below, a corkscrew hazel tree:


  • Benches, hammocks and chairs. As touched upon before, seating areas are a reminder to you and your family that your backyard is ultimately a place to relax. If your focal point is a cozy place to sit, you’re going to enjoy spending time in your backyard watching the world go by. These pieces are also useful – since an attractive table and chairs would be a great place to have an al fresco meal in the warmer months.


  • Water and fire features. Drawing on the raw energy of the natural elements, waterfalls and fire pits are ever-popular backyard focal points. However, remember that it can be tricky to integrate these without making them look overbearing. If water is your thing, a pond is a static water feature that blends in with the rest of the backyard and has a natural look.


  • Wooden gazebos. If you are looking to add an element of shade to your backyard, wooden gazebos or pergolas are the way to go. Being crafted from wood gives them a naturally-occurring feel which would blend in with surrounding trees and plants. They are perfect for encasing an outdoor dining table or couch.


Your backyard deserves to look amazing, and having a focal point can be the start of a beautiful design. Choosing something striking like a gazebo or waterfall immediately gives you initial inspiration for designing the rest of your backyard.