Balance Your Garden with Feng Shui

As spring comes into full bloom, we gratefully emerge from winter ready to create beautiful outdoor spaces. For many, this means planting gardens and building the perfect landscape in our own backyards. Did you know the ancient art of feng shui has its place both indoors and out? Here are a few helpful hints to help you discover your garden’s potential to not only be lovely to look at, but provide energy and balance to your world.

• Balance – To balance your planting scheme, always begin with the back of the planting area and plant higher (yang) than the next layer in front of it and again with the third layer in front until you reach three tiers descending in height to yin or the balance. (Three is a magical number in feng shui). Create vegetable gardens the same way—corn, tomatoes, cucumbers. This arrangement also arrests the eye because of the appealing balance. Plant high to low and mix it up with an eye to balancing the high/low, open/tight, light/dark.

• Texture – Next, consider texture. This also involves yin and yang. Use open longer stems (Shasta daisies -yang) to create motion with wind in the back. Then descend with seasonal flowers or perennials where the flowers heads are more condensed with each layer until you reach both rounder and tighter plants that may also group together like impatiens.

• Components – Rocks, garden sculptures, stone walls, benches, pergolas/gazebos, swings—all add visual interest and must find their balance as well within the softness of plants/flowers. One of the reasons we so love gardens is exactly for this reason. Outdoor spaces and gardens help us find balance within ourselves. So hardscape components are yang to the flowers’ yin.

• Color – If you have lots of room for your gardens, consider planning either themes of color or multi-color flowers. Multi -colors always “fill in” the space as we look at them because all the colors radiate a vibration and take up more visual space (yang). If, on the other hand, you have little room for a flower garden, it is important to consider same tone flowers and plants (yin), such as varying shades of whites and greens. Not only is it beautiful in its soft variations but also arresting to the eyes. A yin garden is very good for meditating.

• Visual Energy – As mentioned above, colors have vibrations with red having the most (yang) as well as yellows and oranges and even whites. Blues and purples and softer versions of yang like peach and pale yellow are more yin and “quiet” and concentrate their visual energy. So consider what you want to create—vibrant to quiet—or something in between for different areas of your gardens.

• Topography – The rise and fall of the land itself also is yin (low) and yang (high). Especially if you have a lot of land, it is important to bring balance and harmony to the space or it will look as if your home were dropped on a piece of dirt (or grass), and it feels incomplete and not harmonious. Adding berms (soil stacked to a soft or hard tier or terrace) so the space is broken and the eye can rest somewhere is ideal. Adding soil or subtracting can offer the same effect. Bring in large rocks and group them together to bring safety (especially if you live on a corner property) as well as grounding to the home and gardens. Remember round is yin and high and straight (tiers/terraces) is yang. Always seek balance.

• Proportion – Consider the proportion of house to garden/land. We have all seen too many plantings/trees and too little land and just the opposite: too much land and too few plantings. A good rule of thumb is the old rule of three. Keep the house to 1/3 (if you can) and the property to 2/3. Since this is not always possible, you must artfully plant trees that will not dwarf the home in 5-10 years or look too small for the life of the house. Another rule of thumb is to plant small/open/multi-trunk trees like birches and Japanese maples within 15-20 feet of the front of the home, but never in front of the door. Blocking the front door keeps good energy from coming in and not-good energy from leaving.

• Safety – Any shrubbery planted close to the house should only reach the bottom of the window and never obliterate the window inside and outside. In the feng shui world, you are taking away good Chi from the outside and stifling the Chi or energy inside. Planting too close to the house can also cause damage from roots and water welling up too close to the foundation. Also when shrubbery hides the window it is often an invitation for someone to hide behind it. Local police will always tell you to keep shrubbery below the sill.

• Curves – Curves slow walking down and the eye as well (yin) and straight lines speed us up (yang) and have us looking beyond and not where we are. Small spaces need straight lines because curves take up more room and can be difficult to navigate (never good feng shui). When planning gardens on a large piece of property, think curves—curving/rounded plant/flower/shrubbery groups. Corners of property need curves (yin) as well to soften the geometric angles (yang) of the house. In the feng shui world, Chi drops in corners.

• Commitment – Anything you plant you become responsible for, so perhaps you might think about that and plant areas of grass if you can take care of it, using river rock and stones where you do not want grass and flowers or perennials where no matter what the season you have something lovely to look at. Pick two and you just may have something that calms the soul more than it adds to the work. The balance of what you get for what you give must be even or you may start resenting your beautiful space. And that’s not good feng shui.

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