Using Accent Plants to Create Emphasis

Accent plants can be used to draw attention to a particular feature or features in the landscape such as an entryway, stairs, water, seating, statuary or even other plants. They should contrast with the surrounding plants or other elements to create emphasis or focal points.

Specimen plants, a form of accent plant, are individual plants that are used singly to show off some special feature of the plant such as flowering display.

Accent plants, on the other hand, can be used singly or in groups to add emphasis or draw the eye through the landscape.  Accent plants can be placed in either a symmetrical or asymmetrical fashion. Potted plants can also be used as accents.

A variety of plant characteristics can be used to achieve this effect.

  • Color
  • Texture
  • Size
  • Placement
  • Form

Also consider seasonal characteristics such as leaf retention, bark color, or texture.

Potted plants accent and draw attention to this porch entryway. Photo credit: Lori L. Statteri Flickr CC BY 2.0
Clipped trees and shrub provides formal focal points or points of rest for the eye in this mixed perennial bed. Photo credit: La Citta Vita Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Additional Resources:


Utah: The Dirt as Your Canvas
Arizona: Using Accent Plants in the Landscape