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Feng shui and gardening

Feng shui and gardening
Photo credit: Unsplash photo by Mike Erskine

Happy summer to our readers in the Northern Hemisphere! Now that we’re enjoying warmer weather and spending more time outside, we wanted to share some ways that you can incorporate feng shui principles into your garden!

Your mind might go to home interiors when you think of feng shui, but the same principles can be applied to outdoor spaces as well, whether it’s a lot, a garden, or even a small deck or flower box. Just like the inside of your home, you can also plan the exterior using feng shui frameworks like the flow of qi, the five elements, and the bagua.

Consider the flow of qi.

We talk a lot about the flow of qi on our podcast, especially when it comes to certain rooms in your home, like the bedroom or living room. When you’re thinking about an outdoor space, you also want to make sure qi can flow easily.

First, think about how you enter your garden or outdoor space. Is there a gate? Do you go through a side door or back door in your home? Make sure it’s safe and easy to get outside, without any broken steps, sticky doors, or other obstacles. When you can move easily through a space, qi can move easily too.

You can invite a healthy flow of qi by having a meandering path through your garden that is defined, yet still spacious. Visualize yourself as water flowing gently through your space. Try to create a balance of yin and yang: if you have a lot of straight, hard lines (yang), introduce more curves and softness (yin) by adding soft shrubbery around the edges or curved pathways.

Bring in the five elements for balance.

One simple way to work with the five elements in your garden is to make sure all five are represented. Alternatively, you can intentionally bring in one element that you really want to work on based on its qualities. To learn more about the type of energy each element embodies, be sure to listen to our podcast episodes about each element!

The wood element brings vitality and growth. You likely already have the wood element covered in your outdoor space, since it’s related to the color green as well as any plant. If you want to take it up a notch, you can bring in evergreens. These plants maintain wood energy year-round, which is especially nice in winter if you live in a colder climate.

Fire is connected to brightness and transformation. Sunlight, which the plants in your garden need to thrive, is an expression of the fire element. The sun creates transformation by allowing seeds to break open and grow into healthy plants. It’s important to make sure that your garden is getting enough sunlight, and that you’re choosing plants according to the light conditions in your space. You can also bring in the fire element with the color red or triangular shapes. Red azalea, Japanese maple, and red geranium are all great examples of plants that can help increase fire energy.

The earth element is nurturing and grounding. Earth is fairly straightforward to incorporate into an outdoor space, because we often use stones of some kind in landscaping. If you’re not incorporating stonework into your garden, you can also keep it simple and plant some yellow flowers in a terra cotta pot. Yellow flowering shrubs like potentilla are also great, as are plants with yellow fruit like lemon trees.

Metal is connected to joy and clarity. To introduce metal into your garden, you can add plants with white blooms like bridal wreath spirea or white hydrangea. You can also choose plants with silvery leaves, like lamb’s ear or dusty miller. Another option is to incorporate the metal element more literally with something like a wind chime. A metal wind chime can bring more beauty, clarity and joy into your garden space with the sound of metal.

Water is about wisdom and finding your path in life. Consider investing in a water feature if you would like one and it works for your space. Moving water (like a fountain) is ideal, rather than stagnant water. Bird baths also bring in positive qi — just make sure you keep them clean. Water also represents resources, so having a source of water flowing towards your home can invite opportunities and resources into your life. If you don’t want to add a water feature, you can also bring in the color black or very dark grey. A very straightforward way to do this is by finding outdoor furniture, like a table or chairs, in black.

Support your intention with the bagua.

The bagua is a tool we use all the time in feng shui. You’ve probably seen it overlaid on a floor plan, but it can also be applied to your exterior space. The bagua is made up of eight areas around a center, and the areas (called guas) are related to different areas of life, as well as colors, elements, feelings, and energies. It’s a tool that you can work with to create more balance and harmony in your garden. If you’re new to the bagua or want to learn more about it, you can listen to our three-part podcast series or download our free bagua kit. We also recorded a podcast episode all about designing a garden using the feng shui bagua with Mindful Design graduate Rose Garbien.

To use the bagua in your garden, think about what you want to cultivate or activate in your life, and focus on the gua that corresponds to that area of life. A simple way to enhance a particular gua is by adding the color that is associated with it. For example, purple is the color connected to the abundance area of the bagua. If you want your outdoor space to support wealth and abundance, you could add plants with purple flowers or foliage to the wealth area of your garden, located in the rear left-hand corner.

Keep it simple.

Our last bit of advice when designing a garden using feng shui principles is to make sure you’re creating a space that you can easily manage and maintain. Your garden should be something that will support you, rather than overwhelm you. Be mindful of how much you take on, and stick to one or two feng shui concepts to incorporate with intention rather than trying to do everything all at once.

Happy gardening!