Andrea helps people design their homes and gardens. She likes to use Western Astrology and the Chinese Zodiac to help build templates.
Designing a Feng Shui Garden
Your garden space is an important part of your home. It's a place for you to reflect on life, weather, and the cosmos. Your garden is a way for you to say thank you to nature.
I encourage you to design your garden space based around all five elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. A balanced garden will have a brilliant understanding of feng shui.
Everything around you is made up of chemicals. We're in a constant flow of chemical reactions. The way you setup your garden has an influence on the way the chemicals around you flow. The way you setup items in your space has meaning on both a spiritual, unseen level and a physical, seen level.
Metal in a Feng Shui Garden
- Metal is supported by earth.
- Metal supports water.
- Metal is destroyed by fire.
- Metal destroys wood.
- Metal is considered a yin energy. To help bring out metal, follow the principles of yin.
- In the Chinese Zodiac, the Monkey and the Rooster represent metal.
- Metal represents autumn. Autumn has the ability to break down the charms and magnitude of spring. Autumn takes away the chloroplasts that make plants green.
- Metal is represented by round and oval shapes.
Yin and Yang Principles
Blue and Black
White, Red, Yellow
Ovals, Circles, Spheres
Triangles, Stars, Rectangles, Diamonds, Squares, Prisms
Time of Day
Dark and Dim
Light and Bright
Black and White
Water / Earth
Fire / Air
Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Goat, Rooster, Pig
Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog
Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces
Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius
Items Caught between Yin and Yang
Between yin and yang is transformation. In nature, things gradually switch from one quality to another. We would panic if night suddenly changed to day. Sunset and sunrise are on the cusp of night and day. Cusps are a blend of energy and metamorphosis.
It's important to consider cusps when designing your garden. You want to gradually move from one element into the next. It's a great idea to blend elements in your space. Switching dramatically from one element to the next could be jarring.
Best Places for Metal
Metal has the best flow in the West, Northwest, and North spaces of your property. The West is dedicated to completion and creativity. The Northwest represents helpful people and travel. The North is for life's journey, opportunities, and your career.
- Metal increases the creative energy in your environment. Metal sparks mental activity.
- Two of the best plants to inspire metal energy are hydrangeas and dogwood trees.
- Metal's key colors are white and gray. There are a ton of veggies, fruits, flowers, and trees that have white coloration. Gray, however, is one of the hardest colors to find in nature. Gray is often the enemy of flora, and flora goes with the wood element.
White & Gray Veggies, Fruits, Flowers, and Trees
Potatoes, cauliflowers, turnips, onions, parsnips, leeks, kohlrabi, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, white corn.
Porcini mushrooms, gray hubbard squash.
Pears, coconuts, white peaches, white nectarines, bananas, dates.
Charleston gray melons, yellow passion fruit, yellow dragon fruit.
Daisies, magnolias, lily of the valley, gardenias, snowdrops, tulips, spider mums, orchids.
Rose campion, honeywort, bluebeard, cardoon, silver bush, cotton lavender, sea holly, curry plant.
White poplar, quaking aspen, bradford pear, ghost gum, birch, dogwood, shadbush, Japanese snowbell.
In Chinese folklore, only demons can walk straight lines. Feng shui gardens should have curvy paths. This helps to make the garden more imaginative, to have flow, and to bring out charm.
- Straight lines are good for planting vegetable.
- If you build everything in straight lines, it might make things hard to see as they grow. Straight lines can create clutter.
- Curves bring out a softer chi, which is good for relaxation and meditation.
- Curves are also better for supporting metal energy.
Simple Ways to Incorporate Metal
Metal can be incorporated into your garden with sculptures. Art helps to transform your garden, which inspires the imagination. Metal in feng shui is about refinement and boldness. A little shine can go a long way to giving your garden the right ambiance.
- Circles represent heaven. Squares represent earth. Incorporating both of these shapes together in a metal sculpture translates to the idiom: "heaven on earth."
- Metal lawn furniture can help designate spaces for guests and conversation.
- Metal trellises will look nice in places where you want to support water. Use metal trellises in areas where your plants need an extra surge in water. Metal trellises also look nice around ponds.
- Metal fencing should be used in a spot that doesn't have too much flora. The flora may get cut by the metal.
- Wind chimes help us to get in touch with sound. Add these for some whimsy.
Make a Horaisan or Treasure Island
A horaisan or horaijima is an inaccessible island that's part of a Japanese garden. The name Horai comes from a Chinese island important to Japanese folklore.
The horaisan has no bridges and no paths to it. It symbolizes the realm of happiness that mortals cannot find nor enter. It is a sacred space in your yard meant to entertain otherworldly things.
This should be a spot in your garden or yard that is challenging to reach. You may have to use a ladder, a boat, or some other device to get there. The space should be dotted with coins, treasure chests, and shiny things. The horaisan should be distinctly different from the rest of your yard. It should have different plants, rocks, and other features.
Commonly the horaisan is separated by water, it has no inhabitants, and it looks like a dreamy place.
- You could create something similar by separating off a space with a gate or separating it by creating a pond with rivulets.
- The horaisan could be a space that you've separated to hide fairy and gnome homes.
- The horaisan is easy to dedicate to the metal element. Add treasures, white toadstools and mushrooms, and metal furniture.
- The space should be abstract and not straightforward. It should have unusual terrain.
Feng Shui and the Ways Elements Relate to Each Other
Metal nourishes water through condensation.
Metal destroys wood by cutting into it.
Water nourishes wood by helping flora to grow.
Water destroys fire by putting out flames.
Wood nourishes fire by giving it tinder.
Wood destroys earth by popping out of it and disheveling it.
Fire nourishes earth by turning into ashes and helping land to grow and spread.
Fire destroys metal by melting it.
Earth nourishes metal by creating minerals in the soil.
Earth destroys water by cutting off its path and drying it.
A tool shed is your shrine for metal objects. You should store your tools in a space that's closed off from flora. The metal element destroys wood; your metals are meant for chopping, trimming, and manicuring your garden.
- It's better to create your shed out of earth features like stone, brick, plaster, and the like. Wood is a strange material for a shed. More sturdy materials will also protect the metal tools in case of bad weather and potential leaks from water or other precipitation.
- Metal does well in a safe place outside of sunlight. Metal can get warped or contaminated by sunlight, heat, and too much warmth. Metal should be stored in a cool and dark place.
- Tools for a garden include: hoe, pitchfork, shears, ax, scissors, rake, shovel, wheelbarrow, watering can, spade, hori hori, trowel.
Shrine to Family
Metal in many ways connects to spirituality in traditional Chinese beliefs. Metal can be challenging to incorporate in a garden setting because it's abnormal in some ways. For one, its gray color is usually a bad sign for flora. Gray = decay or aging.
If you have a lot of space in your yard, you could setup a shrine to your family to remember the past and to consider the future. The shrine is a place to setup urns, gongs, precious heirlooms, incense, swords, ceremonial items, and other mementos. This space should be a space that you can lock and prevent thieves from entering.
Metal reminds us to examine ourselves and the people connected to us. It reminds us of genealogy, the continuation of life, and the mysteries of life.
- A shrine needs to be a space that's concealed from the sun and heat.
- The shrine is supported by earth elements and it supports water elements.
- This is a space to place crystals, shiny objects, and jewels. It's a building where you can mourn the dead and consider the steps of your children.
A metal space should be dedicated to careful meditation and creativity. Metal represents the process of cultivation. Without metal the garden would turn wild. Without metal the mind becomes chaotic.
The Peculiarities of the Metal Element
Again, gray is an unusual color in nature. It doesn't remind people of a taste; whereas, if I told you to think of a green food and its taste, you could probably do this very quickly. The same goes with red, orange yellow, blue, and purple.
Metal is about the unseen. It's about the connections we have to history and the cosmos.
Trivial Points about Metal and Its Representative Colors
- Gravestones are usually gray or white.
- We give away jewelry as heirlooms.
- We cut away newborns from their mothers with a scalpel.
- We end lives with the sword.
- Metal is the one element in the Chinese Zodiac that doesn't translate perfectly to an element in Western Astrology. Arguably, it would be considered the fifth element of ether.
There is a seriousness and whimsical nature to metal. We need trace amounts of metals and minerals in our foods for better health. We need metal to fight and defend ourselves. Metal is both the sword and the shield.
Statues of Monkeys and Roosters
In the Chinese Zodiac, the Monkey, the Rooster, and the Dog went off to another country to fight off evil. They were nearly the last animals to arrive in the great race to determine the order of the animals in the Zodiac. The pig arrived after them, securing the 12th position.
The Monkey and the Rooster are influenced by metal; the Dog is influenced by earth, which is the most agreeable element.
The Monkey and the Rooster are considered guardians. They defend against evil, demons, bad spirits, bad chi, bad feelings, and bad chemistry. You can place statues of monkeys and roosters in your garden as a way to symbolically shield your space.
- Consider adding scarecrows of monkeys and roosters.
- Statues of these animals should be in a spot where you meditate to ease your thoughts.
- The crown chakra is considered the highest chakra and represents enlightenment. This chakra is white. Your space for metal should be about purification and reaching a higher version of yourself. Reaching a higher version of yourself also means you're lowering yourself to be more humble. (As above so as below.)
- Add monkeys and roosters to places where you want mental clarity.
- The Monkey is the yang representation of metal. The Rooster is the yin representation of metal.
What Not to Do
- Don't leave out rusted metals in your garden. You should remove rusted materials immediately as rust means something wrong is happening chemically.
- Don't leave abandoned things in your garden, like old cars and broken devices. This is bad for your plants and can harm your garden.
- An entire garden based around metal is ambitious and not recommended. You want to balance the five elements, so as not to create overindulgence.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.