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How to bring feng shui to your garden and yard

The effects and meaning of Feng Shui aren't limited to interior spaces. In fact, common Feng Shui principles translate beautifully to outdoor spaces such as your yard, and can even help you to create the perfect zen Japanese garden to relax in and retreat to. 

I realize it’s mid summer and maybe not the best time to start making big changes to your garden, but there are a few things you may be able to improve upon now and plan ahead for in the years to come.

When it comes to feng shui, which means “wind and water” in Chinese culture, together are associated with good health, which is also known as “good fortune”. Based on the Taoist vision and understanding of nature, the idea that land is alive and filled with energy, aka chi.

Feng shui (pronounced “fung-shway”) is not a religion, or anything of the sort; it’s simply the ancient art of good placement, indoors and out. It’s the practice of situating objects so they create a comfortable, relaxing and soothing environment. Nothing objectionable about feeling good, right? So we’re basically looking for curves and circles like the way water flows and the wind blows.

If your gardening and/or landscaping feels unfulfilled, there’s one simple reason...a lack of good feng shui. But if you’re anxious or unsure about bringing feng shui into your unruly garden, try following some key principles to bring harmony to your green space.

1. Get rid of trash, broken items and junk. If you do nothing else this summer to improve your yard and/or garden, get rid of the eye soars. Even the junk hiding behind the garage!

2. Keep in mind, feng shui works with, not against nature, and takes into consideration many different elements.

3. Keep it simple. No need to make your spaces complicated.

4. Balance of the five natural elements inside and outside is important. So look around your yard. Where do you see the five elements...wood, fire, earth, metal and water?

Examples of each element include live plants, an outdoor fireplace or chiminea or a grouping of red and yellow-colored plants. Terra cotta or clay pots, large stones, and a water feature of any type, as well as metal sculptures and/or wind chimes. Try to balance the size and placement of these, elements so that none is more dominant than the others.

You can also easily redesign or modify unnatural (aka “unhappy”) elements of design. Examples include excessive straight lines, sharp angles, narrow walks and steps, poor lighting, clutter, clashing colors, competing sounds, bad weather exposure, poor plant choices, and more. So look around your yard and pay attention to how it feels. If this is hard for you, ask a friend to honestly tell you what feels good and what doesn’t.

Then you can figure out what changes need to made, which could be done immediately and/or make a plan for future improvements to the overall feel of your garden.

What I often see when driving through neighborhoods are lots of straight lines. For example, the landscape has all straight lines, from the curb, driveway and sidewalk, to the house, porch and foundation plantings. Think how water flows....curves. Figure out how you can make more curves. Depending on your budget, redo your walk to the front door from straight to curvy. In my last home the front walk was made of bricks. So I took up all the bricks and put them back with a few curves. It was a bit labor intensive, but the cost was certainly lower than hiring someone. If you want to do-it-yourself, check out the many youtube videos.

If you’ve got a tree or more in the yard, surround the base with a curved design. This can easily be done with ground cover plants that work for your area. Maybe add a water feature which could be as simple as a bird bath. Be mindful where you place it, not just for the birds, but for how it feels in your yard.

Adding garden accessories, art, and the wind chimes are all calm and expressive, as well as the companionship of all sorts of gentle wildlife. Bad views can be hidden with carefully-placed plants and fence sections without blocking good views.

Here are a few easy possibilities you can work into your yard/garden:

*Create a roomy space for people to gather and relax – a deck, patio, or a small lawn area to give a positive feeling for the entire space. No clutter!

*Place garden furniture where you can have your back to a wall or hedge, with an unobstructed view of the garden.

*Redesign straight edges into gentle curves, or place a plant, urn, sculpture, loose-leafed plant or other impediment to break up that non-stop look and feel.

*In sunny areas put ornamental grasses to capture and bring to life passing breezes.

*Break up solid fences or hedges with an irregular plant or object. When selecting garden art, if possible choose rounded art forms over pointed ones.

*Replace high-maintenance plants with those that please you and don't have a lot of demands.

Plants that grow in good light and good soil give off positive feelings. Arrange them so they are mixed in different sizes, shapes and colors, so none will be overwhelmed by the others.

*Both water and fire bring in excellent feng shui. Add where they feel good to you.

*Don’t go overboard with competing sounds; it only takes one gentle wind chime to soothe the mind and spirit. Make wildlife comfortable in your yard/garden, especially butterflies, bees and dragonflies, which you will have if you have a water feature.

These are suggestions, not rules. It isn’t critical to include them all, but a feng shui garden will usually end up having them anyway. Think about gradually replacing those things (plants as well as design features) that bother or burden you with those that help you feel more comfortable and relaxed. But one things is cru

As the ancient Chinese philosopher and sage Lao Tzu said, “Meandering leads to perfection.” So take your time with the changes. That is good feng shui, too. :-)

What are the feng shui colors for gardens?

Here’s a guide about color:

When you plant your garden in Feng Shui colors, you activate the specific energy of each. For example, flowers in reds, oranges, and yellows increase active energy, while those in tones of blues and purples calm you. Use subdued colors that blend together, not clash and brighten dark areas, especially in corners, by adding lights and/or light-colored plants.

Fire Elements

Shape - Triangle

Colors - Red, orange, purple

Attribute - Encourage happiness and reduce sadness

Plant red, orange, and purple flowers, maybe add an outdoor fire pit and lanterns.

Iris, calla lily, birch trees, and spruce trees.

Earth Element

Shape - Square

Colors - Yellow

Attribute - Encourage stability, security, grounding

Plant yellow flowers, and arrange rocks and clay pots around them.

Poppy, rose, boxwood, juniper.

Metal Element

Shape - Round

Colors - White, pastel

Attribute - Encourage control, acceptance, enlightenment

Plant white flowers and decorate your garden with metal sculptures and wind chimes.

Lavender, hydrangea, globe thistle.

Water Element

Shape - Curved

Colors - Blue

Attribute - Encourage relaxation, optimism, peace of mind

Plant blue and purple flowers, and also create a pond or add a fountain, or bird bath.

Wisteria, hosta, butterfly bush.

Wood Element

Shape - Vertical

Colors - Green

Plant green shrubs and trees, then place wooden benches, chairs, or a trellis in your backyard.

Attribute - Encourages growth, change, and dreams

Trees and tall plants.

If you live in an apartment or condo, you can still have a garden on your balcony or patio. Even though the space is small, use the bagua to map out your outdoor space, then decorate accordingly with flowers, plants, and garden ornaments. Using the bagua is also recommended for your yard as well.

Remember to keep your Feng Shui garden harmony fresh, natural, and flowing. Deadhead flowers when they fade, but avoid over-pruning your trees and shrubs into tight shapes.

Our outdoor spaces are just as important as out indoor spaces. 

Happy Gardening!



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