11 Seductive Landscapes That Lure With Less

At the tender age of 16 I had been introduced by my mom to the fan dancing — a dated, although a lot of unkind, variant of this striptease. She gave a running narrative as she broke her moves, known as, I suppose, by some maternal instinct to give me critical life skills I’d need as a grownup. The timing of her dancing tutorial was a little suspicious, but the lesson I learned has served me well.

Here is the takeaway piece from Mother’s fan dance instruction: It isn’t necessarily what you show that produces something sexy/alluring/compelling; it’s exactly what you do not show. When you get right down to it, the mere suggestion of something more to come really grabs your attention, doesn’t it? Surprisingly, this principle applies to a broad range of topics far beyond fan dancing.

Try this easy trick the next time that you would like to enthrall and engage your viewers: Don’t reveal the whole image in one glance — stimulate their imagination and draw them with a tantalizing glimpse of a part of this picture. Trust me, they’ll clamor for more.

Read on for examples of how to apply the theory to the business of landscape design.

Cary Bernstein Architect

I don’t know about you, but that framed partial view of the pool and slice of the distant mountains topped with a huge, clear skies makes me want to run out and see what lies beyond the limits of this window frame. I wonder what’s past the far side of the pool. I am compelled to go out and look over the edge.

Andrew Renn

The sumptuous curves of this garden draw you to the composition immediately. The enchanting arbor brings you into deeper and guarantees access to the garden which can be found in the distance. But without passing under that arch, crossing that threshold and rounding that last curve in the yard, you’ll never understand what’s back there.


What lies beyond this garden gate? The glimpse of red foliage draws the attention to the garden, and the yard appears to lead beyond it to the left, inviting the viewer to research.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

This”humble” door is utilized to present the viewer with a photo of the water component within the walled garden. The come-hither path brings the attention to the garden wall, throughout the door and to the garden, leading to we know not where.

Intriguing, right? (Not to belabor my point, but see the way you might think about this trick as the landscape design equivalent of a peep show?)

Shirley Bovshow

This is a joyous and beckoning path. I would like to pass through the arch, then skip down the stepstones, nip under that jacaranda tree and determine what’s back there!

Exteriorscapes llc

Here is another path you simply need to follow.The secret is to create a strong visual pull down the path without showing its own destination.

Don’t have a huge garden? Simply curve the trail beyond view to draw the eye down the path and create the illusion that there’s more garden to be discovered around the bend.

Margie Grace – Grace Design Associates

This proposal of a path invites a leisurely stroll in the woods.

Whether you heed the siren’s cry, only looking out the window and the trail gives a momentary respite from the workaday world.

Donna Lynn – Landscape Designer

Play to all the sensations to enchant your garden guests. Add a couple of aromatic plants, such as the stephanotis wrapped around this particular column. Perfume the atmosphere with a touch of orange blossom or lavender — only enough to make 1 wonder where that heavenly scent is coming out of and seek its origin.

Tip: Subtlety adds to the allure. Avoid overwhelming the senses with overpowering odor.


Add soothing sounds to your own garden — the murmur of trickling water, the cooing of doves, the distant notes of a wind chime — but visually downplay the origin of the sound, incorporating it in to plantings or tucking it just past the field of vision. You’ll find folks are drawn to audio.

Troy Rhone Garden Design

Look closely at this picture. It’s possible the whole composition is an illusion. Is that a glimpse of a secret garden throughout the”gate,” or is that a broken light door glazed with mirror reflecting the greenery along the edge of this path? Wonderful trick, eh?

(I adore the”protector” goats flanking the door/gate. They add a whimsical touch, making what could otherwise be an intimidating facade very approachable.)

Tongue in Cheek Antiques

Ahhh… The breezy curtains supply a peekaboo view of this intimate sitting area. I can envision myself in this setting savoring a summery vintage and good company on a sultry candlelit evening. Count me in!

Garden Design Principles: Emphasis and Focal Points

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