When you hear feng shui, you probably think about the inside of your home. However, feng shui isn’t limited to indoor spaces! There are many ways you can apply feng shui principles outdoors, in your garden, to create an outdoor oasis. We’ve gathered some simple guidelines to help you bring more beneficial energy into your yard, no matter the size. Even if you have a very small garden space, work with what you have. You can always scale things up or down depending on the size of your garden.
The Flow of Qi
In general, the principles that apply to a home can also be applied to an outdoor space. Overall, the goal is to create a smooth and calming flow of qi, or life force energy. You want to be able to walk through your garden easily, without feeling blocked or constricted.
Well-placed retaining walls, pathways, and taller plants can really help direct the flow of qi by guiding you through the space. It’s also a good idea to use rounded edges and undulating lines for garden beds, which creates a smoother flow of qi. You can also use irregularly shaped flagstone to create a meandering path. This allows the qi to calmly flow and collect in the space, and is generally more beneficial than a garden full of straight paths and sharp corners.
Set the Tone and Energy
It’s important to have a focal point in your garden, which draws the eye deeper into your outdoor space and creates ease. When deciding what to include as your focal point, consider the type of energy you’d like to cultivate. A warming fire feature, for example, will bring a different kind of energy to your space than a soothing water feature, a dramatic flowering tree, or a restful sitting area. Also, additions of the metal element with metal wind chimes can bring joy into your garden.
Balance Yin and Yang to Create Harmony
Using the feng shui principles of yin and yang will help to create a more balanced design. You can do this by balancing hard (yang) and soft (yin) landscape treatments. To bring in more yang energy, think boulders and stonework, which create structure, boundaries, and clear lines. To soften the edges and bring in yin energy for balance, add plant material around the hardscaping. Ornamental grasses are a good example of something that embodies yin energy with their gentle, swaying movement.
You can also balance yin and yang with different types of plants. Taller plants bring in more yang energy, while lower ground covers bring in yin energy. Including both gives the space dimension and variety, and makes it feel more harmonious.
Feng Shui Color
When designing an outdoor space, you can keep it simple in terms of feng shui and color. One way of working with feng shui and color is to use five element color theory to create balance. The five elements represent different types of energy that all work together, and each element is associated with a particular color. You don’t necessarily need to have all five elements represented in your space. Instead, choose a few that have the type of energy you want to invite into your garden. Here are a few ways to bring the five elements into your outdoor space using color, and what they represent:
The wood element is all about growth and vitality. This is easy to incorporate into a garden because it’s connected to the color green. Any tree, plant, or shrub will bring in wood energy.
The fire element represents warmth and kindness. It’s connected to the color red, which you can bring in through plants like Japanese maple or red geraniums.
The earth element has a very grounding energy. Add earth to your garden with the color yellow, like black-eyed Susan or a yellow flowering potentilla.
The metal element has clear and concise energy. It’s connected to the color white, so you can add metal to your garden with plants like bridal wreath spirea or shasta daisy.
The water element is cooling and quiet. Water is expressed through the color black (or very dark navy blue), which is a little tougher to do with plant material since there are not a lot of black plants. You can look for something with black fruit, like a blackberry. You can also bring in the water element with a water feature instead.
Work With an Intention
Feng shui principles work very well with landscape design, and many of the principles of both practices overlap. An additional part of using feng shui when designing an outdoor space or garden is that you can set an intention for your space. You can choose to focus on a specific type of energy, which you might do by including one or more of the elements mentioned above.
Another way to work with your intention is to map out your garden using a feng shui tool called the bagua. This allows you to identify specific areas, such as wealth or partnership, that you might want to enhance. To lay the bagua in your yard, you will need to find the main entry onto the lot, and then place the bagua according to the entry for your overall lot or backyard. Using the bagua can sometimes be tricky, and it’s usually a good idea to work with a professional to make sure it is laid correctly.
When in doubt, keep it simple! As you begin designing your outdoor space, set an overall intention. For example, maybe you want to create an area that is calming and inviting. Keep that in mind, and then follow the basic guidelines above.