Planning your yard with the right focal point

How much ornamentation, statues, arches, pergolas, fountains, walls, etc., should be in a yard? It depends on the size of the yard and whether plants or ornaments are the main focus of the garden.

How much ornamentation, statues, arches, pergolas, fountains, walls, etc., should be in a yard?

It depends on the size of the yard and whether plants or ornaments are the main focus of the garden.

This in turn depends on the homeowner, as a garden is an extension to the house. It is an area for family and friends to spend time; play, work, sit and relax.

When adding anything to the garden, ask the following questions: What is the purpose of the item? Does it add to the garden? Does it draw the eye away from the focal point of the garden?

A focal point is the main feature in the garden or that area of the garden.

It is what the eye first sees when entering a garden or room.

Other areas within eyesight should support the focal point.

Ornaments or structures can be the focal point but so can one or more plants.

When a structure or ornament is the focal point, plants are placed to draw the eye towards the focal point.

When plants are the focal point, structures support the plants.

Ornaments and benches become a nice added touch.

Gardens without a main focal point are busy.

The eye will skip to one area to the next and back again without finding any one spot to rest.

This happens in gardens where there are ornaments or plants scattered throughout without an obvious pattern.

The landscape often looks junky and ill-planned.

Different areas of the yard, once called garden rooms, can have different focal points and different themes.

Think about the differences between many front and back yards.

The front is a public area that often showcases the house while the back is private.

It is not uncommon to walk past a basic front yard to go ‘Wow’ as one goes around the corner. The side of the house is a transition area between the two areas.

Ornaments and structures should be part of the overall garden design and fit the lifestyle of the owners.

Disconnects occur when the house is sold and another moves in.

In a climate where the yard is used for less than half a year, it is considered much less important than the house and other buildings.

The garden will be the last area to be adapted to the present owner.

Most owners tend to work around existing trees and hard landscaping.

Yards then become personalized with smaller plants, shrubs, annuals, perennials, pots and ornaments.

Shrubs add colour and work to divide areas within the yard.

They are perfect at blocking the view of a neighbour or the recycling area.

Annuals add colour all summer, up until the last frost.

It might be a mass of different colours or a select few. It is part of the garden that can and does change yearly.

Perennials are more permanent plants than annuals.

They continue to grow each year in the same spot, but are easily moved.

The flowers come and go throughout the season, giving a splash for a week or so before fading, at which time another variety is likely to bloom.

Grasses add shape and colour to the yard but are often more noticeable during the fall and winter when other herbaceous plants have crumpled under the weight of the snow.

Pots can contain a mixture of herbaceous plants. If well taken care of, they provide colour to places that would otherwise be bare or green.

Pots should enhance the plants not be a detraction.

Remember, whatever ornamentation is chosen should enhance the garden. It must have a purpose or it will look out of place.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.

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