Feng Shui in the Garden
An ancient Chinese art dating back to the Zhou era of 4000 BC, Feng Shui centers around the placement of objects and aesthetics in one’s life. Feng Shui applies to all facets of modern existence, from medicine to art to nutrition and exercise. Awareness and application of Feng Shui principles can help us cultivate a life that is balanced and harmonious in every way.
As gardening is an aspect of life, it’s no surprise that one can apply Feng Shui in the garden. Purposeful arrangement of plants or other hardscape elements can create a landscape for your home that is both eye-catching and functional.
Elements of Feng Shui
Feng Shui is part of a bigger idea called the Tao, which is a harmony within ourselves, each other and the world. If Feng Shui is a paragraph, Tao is the whole book.
Yin and Yang refers to opposing forces that are constantly fighting one another. Every object in the world has an opposite, or converse. Some examples from everyday life: sun and moon, male and female, yes and no, black and white, up and down, passive and aggressive, etc. It should be our goal to create balance or flow between the two extremes.
Chi is the life force of all living things. It is the force that keeps the soil fertile, the sun powerful, and the rain nurturing. In garden terms, you would want to have proper Feng Shui to create chi to ensure that your garden teems with life. The arrangement of your garden can make all the difference in whether they thrive or die.
Within the world there are 5 major elements that everything stems from. These include wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. As they exist in the Universe, so should these same elements be incorporated into the garden. You want to avoid excessive use of one element over another, which creates imbalance, and smothers the chi, or life-giving force. Keeping the five elements in balance within your garden will cultivate a healthy cycle. In a garden this might mean having a water feature, a fire pit, some hardscape, metal decorations, and plants all to create balance.
The Basics of Feng Shui
According to Feng Shui principles, there are 9 zones that must be filled:
- South East (Wealth)
- South (Fame)
- South West (Partnership)
- East (Family)
- Center (Energy)
- West (Children)
- North East (Knowledge)
- North (Career)
- North West (Friends).
To create the perfect Feng Shui garden one must have all of the required zones equally represented in their garden. Each zone has a corresponding element; for example, wood represents Family and metal represents Friends. According to Feng Shui principles, each zone can benefit from placing a decorative element of the appropriate element within that area of the garden. For example, hanging a metal birdhouse in the North West part of your garden could potentially bring balance and harmony to your friendships.
Another example of this is spatial arrangement of specific zones of your garden. A secluded niche in the Northeast, or Knowledge zone, gives you an optimally-located place to think, while a wooden table with chairs for all family members in the Family zone promotes togetherness. A pond in the South East, or Wealth zone, promotes finances to always flow.
In addition to filling the nine critical zones, there is still the aspect of balancing a garden for Feng Shui. Water is the most important element in the garden, and in life. It should always be flowing to demonstrate a continuation of life and energy– a pond with a waterfall or a fountain is best. Trees and bushes fall under the wood element and recycle the air while creating naturalness, so be sure to add these as part of your Feng Shui landscape plan.
The fire element of your garden can include those hot days or sudden heat waves. Feng Shui purports that these can be kept in check by including red flowers and plants as part of your outdoor display. Rocks and other hardscape materials make up the earth element, and so you might place a terracotta pot or clay statue within the garden to promote balance in this area. Fulfill the need for metal with an iron fence or structure to hold up plants and flowers — just be sure that the iron element is always smooth and well rounded to seem more inviting.
More Tips for Creating Feng Shui in the Garden
While arrangement and placement of the proper elements in the right zones is key to the obtaining the best Feng Shui in your garden, there are still more tips and tricks to ensure proper balance and good flow of Chi. Some guidelines to follow:
- A pathway should never be completely straight nor should it be wider or narrower in parts, as this causes an overabundance of chi to enter or leave your home. The best pathways curve and meander to their final destination. This encourages those who walk the paths to take them slowly, much like life should be lived.
- A structure like a pavilion or deck encourages inhabitants and guests to mingle and admire the garden while partaking in leisurely activities.
- The layout of your plot of land also affects how your to design your garden for optimum Feng Shui. A more rectangular plot should have a larger backyard with a border of hedges or fences to keep the energy in and around the house. A triangular plot should include more rounded elements like a trellis or fountain to balance the harsh points. A circular plot allows chi to freely leave and should have other shapes within to contain the energy, such as rectangular raised beds.
- The zones of your garden should all come out from the house, which is the center. The front of the house should be considered north while the back is south.
- Finally, poisonous plants and pesticides detract from the energy flow in the garden and should be eliminated or avoided if at all possible.
While the idea of Feng Shui is one that has prevailed in history through its teachings and many followers, that does not mean it is the only or the best way to arrange your garden. Some people take their Feng Shui very literally and seriously, while others simple find that its balancing and harmonizing principles make for a great starting point.