Focal Points

Focal point is a design principle I learned as a college sophomore, but lost in designs while fielding an array of requests and deadlines.

Landscaping is much about focal points.

Pick a great place to be or just sit, then plan what you’ll look at.


I spaced the Dasylirion wheeleri into Picacho Mountain just so they would do what the three with flower stalks are doing – interrupting the sky. Focal points even work when driving.

Nolina greenei, Sophora x ‘Sierra Silver’, and Larrea tridentata

That was another view of the same development entry, with more evergreens playing off the Dasylirion on the left. But mostly a non-focal point of clumped desert plants, except the ocotillos.

Passing the entry island and leaving Picacho Mountain, another focal point you miss while entering the same development. It faces you only while exiting.

Yucca faxoniana and a mass of Nolina greenei

Inside the development, one has to look at an island in each cul-de-sac, with no irrigation and native plants.

Fouquieria splendens, gray Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’, and Ungnadia speciosa

Another cul-de-sac.

another Fouquieria splendens for height, Leucophyllum zygophyllum ‘Cimarron’ for fill, and Ferocactus wislizenii for pop

Do ever step back from your overall design, only to add in focal points and then work off of those?

6/12/17 weather: 96 / 65 / 0


2 Replies to “Focal Points”

  1. David – great use of key plants. Landscape is art and focal points are essential to the whole composition whatever medium you are using! Love the native plant islands too!

    Thanks, though I do miss the wildflowers that would be thriving if not for unskilled maintenance there. But case and point – the key plants hold down the fort! Those islands mostly have lasted, I keep forgetting to monitor them.


  2. Great post; as you say it is also important to frame a large view which can become invisible if it is just a wide expanse. I try to create focal pints to lead around my garden. Also important as you showed are curves that encourage exploration in a garden.

    Thanks, those tall and gangling ocotillos were a good frame. Yes, I really enjoyed seeing the white spheres in one of your garden areas.


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