Feng Shui and your Garden

Feng shui is the Chinese art of placing elements within a house or garden to achieve positive energy, drawing prosperity, health and general well-being. The word "Feng" means "wind" and the word "Shui" means "water". The five basic elements of feng shui are water, wood, fire, earth and metal.

The idea of Feng Shui is to arrange these elements to raise the level of "chi", which means universal energy or energy flow. Chi must be able to move freely throughout a space, however you don't want chi to move to move too quickly as one needs time to absorb its benefits.

When practicing Feng Shui in your outdoor landscaping, include at least 2 of its elements into your plan. Water is one of the most powerful conduits of chi and symbolizes life force, for its the source of all living things. Water can take the form of a simple bird bath or a self-contained vase fountain that plugs into an outlet. Other options are a naturally shaped pond with fish and plantings or a pond with jets.

Wood represents innovation, creativity, and birth. Incorporate wood in the form of a wood deck with built-in benches. Choose untreated wood such as cedar or Ipe. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try an arbor that can frame an entrance to a garden or water view. A gazebo or pergola offers shade from the sun and a cozy sitting or dining area.

Fire attracts enthusiasm and energy into your space. Options include a stone or brick fireplace or hearth incorporated into a pergola. A portable fire pit or one embedded into a sandy or gravel area works well also.

Earth expresses stability, strength and patience.Place gently sloping berms in your landscape, which also helps to screen views or create privacy. Another idea is to design a space that retains earth and fill this with interesting rocks. A dry river bed or drainage area are perfect for this.

Metal symbolizes success in business or harvesting and an adult's accomplishments in later years. It may take the form of statuary, an arbor, planters or wind chimes whose gentle sounds offer peace and tranquility.

Pay special attention to the pathways in your garden and those that lead to your home. They must not be blocked or cluttered. Your pathways should not connect readily to a busier area, as this can attract frenetic energy. Elements relate to each other. So be sensitive to scale and proportion. Creating balance between the elements creates good Feng Shui and is good design. A gigantic pool or fireplace with little seating area or greenery to soften such hard space would read as cold, overwhelming and uncomfortable. Elements should never look forced or out of place in their position.

Color is also important and should blend with their surroundings. Yin colors (blue, black, purple and white) represent the elements water and metal which are healing and relaxing. Yang colors (orange and yellow) represent the elements of earth, wood and fire that provide motivation and positive energy. Both are good in their own way but should not be mixed together.

Strive for order -- each element within the garden should have a specific purpose and place. As the forces do their work, relax and reenergize in your garden of tranquility.