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How to create a focal point in your backyard, patio

An outdoor fireplace lights up a patio and

An outdoor fireplace lights up a patio and provides a warm focus. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Top designers know that when you’re designing a room, a focal point is the main feature the space is designed to highlight. In the living room, it’s usually the fireplace; in the bedroom, it’s the bed. But what about the outdoors? Adding a focal point might be all the space needs to give a yard a cohesive, coordinated look.

On fire

One of the easiest and quickest patio additions is a fire element. This can be a fireplace, a fire pit or an outdoor kitchen. A fire pit is easy to construct and can be added to an existing patio, or you can add it to an outdoor seating area that has pavers or gravel. Outdoor kitchens are also popular and make a nice spot to gather and cook. Think about unique features such as a big smoker, pizza oven or rotisserie grill.

Pergolas, gazebos, arbors

A patio can come to life by the addition of a pergola covering. It can make a perfect spot for shady vines to grow or for adding a structural feature. A gazebo with a porch swing or swinging bed can be a cool retreat in the yard or shady spot to sit and read. Don’t overlook arbors and trellises. These look terrific on a patio or at the entrance to a backyard for creating attractive focal points.


Few things are as relaxing and can grab your attention more quickly than a water feature. Adding a fountain, pond or waterfall area to a patio brings the relaxing sound of bubbling water and is an instant draw for your eye. Of course, if you’ve got the budget, nothing pulls a patio and backyard together like a swimming pool. This creates a terrific place to add landscaping and attracts visitors and family like no other patio feature can.


Sometimes what’s missing is a backdrop. Garden walls make an excellent way to create a backdrop to set your patio against. Whether it’s stone, brick, fencing or a green living wall, adding a wall to your patio helps create a focal point by giving you a spot to anchor your patio seating and furnishings around. Features can be included in the wall, such as a water fountain, landscaping or a fireplace. A wall is an easy addition that can help unify the patio with the house and give your eyes an instant spot to land.


You can also try using your patio’s natural features to create a focal point. For instance, pavers can be added around a tree to turn the tree into a focal point. Or, a garden feature such as raised beds can be added to create structure around the patio and attract interest. Pedestals could be added on either side of a patio, or at the point in the garden where the eye naturally falls, to create interest.


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