Garden Feng Shui Principles
Too many good gardeners feel unfulfilled in their landscapes, for one simple reason: A lack of good feng shui.
Feng shui (pronounced “fung-shway”) is not a nasty word, or a religion, or anything of the sort; it is simply the ancient art of good placement, indoors and out. It is the practice of situating objects so they are comfortable, relaxing and soothing. And what’s objectionable about feeling good?
Anxious to bring feng shui into your unruly garden? Follow some key principles to bring harmony to your green space.
This ancient design concept isn’t really very complicated; it’s simply a few easy principles used to create pleasing, harmonious arrangements. If you can assume that there are universal energies flowing around us at all times, feng shui (which means the flow of “wind” and “water”) tries to attract or maximize those which are good, and minimize those which are bad.
Feng shui works with, not against, nature, and takes into consideration many different elements.
It encourages the use and balance of the five natural elements or forces: 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, a water feature of any type, and metal sculptures or wind chimes. Try to balance the size and placement of these elements so that none is more dominant than the others.
Also, you can easily redesign or modify unnatural or “unhappy” elements of design, such as excessive straight lines, sharp angles, narrow walks and steps, poor lighting, clutter, violently clashing colors, competing sounds, bad weather exposure, poor plant choices, and so on, to improve the overall feel of our garden.
Before: House is at top, street at bottom, driveway on right. This initial plan offers boring straight lines, no real plant diversity and no place to relax.
When I moved into my cottage, the landscape was all straight lines, from the curb, driveway and sidewalk, to the house, porch and foundation plantings. It was awful, and high maintenance. And uncomfortable. I redesigned everything, starting by making the garden face me and my house rather than the street, so it welcomes me when I walk out my door and I can face the world with my back to a mountain (the house).
After: The garden is reversed so it faces the house not the street. Curved walks, lots of sitting areas, plant variety and a water feature facing the front deck maximize feng shui.