Andrea helps people design their homes and gardens. She likes to use Western Astrology and the Chinese Zodiac to help build templates.
Designing a Garden with the Element Wood
One of the easiest elements to work with in a feng shui garden is wood. The element should naturally occur in your yard. Wood is about young energy, new beginnings, flora, and the color green.
A garden based around feng shui should include all five elements to be balanced. You want a balanced garden because a garden that focuses on one element will inevitably come off overindulgent. The five elements are: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.
The space in your garden dedicated to wood shouldn't have too many metal features. Metal is considered destructive to wood. Think of an ax chopping into a tree.
Water, on the other hand, nourishes wood. You should have water features alongside wood features. Wood also supports fire, so wood can be near fire. (But don't put too many wood features around fire, unless you want a burning inferno.)
The Wood element is found in:
- Trees, flowers, vegetables, fruits, shrubs, and mushrooms.
- The color green.
- Vertical pieces, especially columns.
- Youthful elements.
- Art dedicated to rabbits and tigers.
- Wood furnishings and decorations.
- Wooden bridges.
- Wood is considered new yang energy. Spring encourages activity and bright colors.
- Wood spaces should encourage cardio and fast movements.
Yin and Yang
Blue and Black
Red, White, Yellow
Black and White
Circles, Ovals, Spheres
Triangles, Stars, Rectangles, Squares, Diamonds, Prisms
Distinct Lines, Sharp
Water / Earth
Fire / Air
Dark and Dim
Light and Bright
Time of Day
Winter and Fall
Summer and Spring
Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Goat, Rooster, Pig
Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog
Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn, Pisces
Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius, Aquarius
Yin and Yang Principles
Everything around us is made up of chemicals and chemical reactions. Part of feng shui is to arrange elements in a way that they interact with each other to create positive chi. You don't want your wood elements decaying, your metals rusting, your water discolored, etc.
One thing to keep in mind to help you create a stable garden is to remember that things gradually change rather than abruptly switch. Night is yin and day is yang. We have sunrise and sunset between those two events. At sunrise and sunset both night and day are occurring. We need transitions; if we suddenly switched from day to night it would be jarring. (Sudden change is associated with grief.)
Those in between places — sunrise and sunset — are considered cusps. Those are your merge points. Those are the places where you blend two different kinds. You don't want to move immediately from a wood space to a metal space: gradually move from wood to water to metal.
Knowing how to gradually blend and move from one setting into the next is important. It will help the garden come alive. Your garden will then operate on a subconscious level to create pleasure.
Best Locations for Wood Feng Shui
Planting evergreens can help you to keep the green color all year long. Chloroplasts in plants are active and healthy during spring and summer, but plants lose their green hue in fall.
The best areas in your garden for wood features are in the East, Southeast, South, and North spaces.
The Zhen bagua is in the East. It represents family and new beginnings. The core colors for this area should be green, blue, and teal. You want a vibrant amount of spring energy here: it should be yang wood. Add objects in groups of three to this space. The number three represents a young, new family.
- The plants should be sprawling everywhere. Think of a rainforest or jungle.
- Support the space with water elements.
- Add art representative of family. Add places where people can sit, preferably benches which are long and rectangular.
- Add pillars, columns, and poles that represent that continuance of generations.
- Add trees to this space.
- Add wooden decorations or furnishings.
This space is meant to remind you to support your family. For young families, it is meant for reflecting on new children. For older families, this space is about considering grandchildren and distant descendants.
For a single person without a family, the space is meant for thinking about the continuance of nature and your role to keep life moving forward with your actions. Even if single, you still have an impact on the flora and fauna around you.
Zhen is also dedicated to new beginnings which includes: new moves, new publishing deals, new homes, new cities, and new school paths.
This is the Southeast corner of your garden. Wood in this space represents wealth and abundance. Xun is the space for yin wood energy. This space should have elements of green and purple in it. Consider adding purple flowers and other purple decorations. This is a space where water and wood meet and flow.
- Water in Chinese traditions is associated with wealth. The flow of water is compared to cash flow.
- Through an abundance of water you can have an abundance of wood. This is important because we need the wood element to eat, to get nutrients, for furniture, for dyes, and essentially for living.
- With water, you have potential for crops. With money, you have more leverage for your choices.
In Xun, add columns and other vertical objects to represent prosperity. This space is also dedicated to self-worth and generosity. This is a spot for amethyst or purple colored jewels. Amaranth is a lovely plant to grow in this area.
Xun is for yin wood energy. It should be representative of youth and serenity. Add statues of rabbits and other charming and sweet animals into the area.
This area is for fire. It is the southern portion of your garden. It should be dedicated to the fire element, but you can use wood to help support this space. Add sticks and other wooden features. Let green be the background where red can pop out and to appear more bold. The Li bagua is for fame and reputation. This is the space dedicated to your household's charisma.
- Add wooden triangles.
- Add flowers with green stems and red petals.
- Place firewood in this space.
- Use a wooden bridge or pathway to get to this space.
- Wood fencing.
- Wood seating.
The North space is dedicated to water. Water nourishes wood. Add darker wood items in this area to connect to water. Black and blue are the main colors for water.
Kan represents career and your path in life. This space is dedicated to winter. Shapes should be wavy or curved. This space should be supported by metal elements, so it is wise to keep wood features separated from metal ones.
- Add circular wooden elements.
- Rounded wooden bridges.
- Flowers with green stems and blue or black petals.
- Wooden steps that are descending.
- Add green, blue, and black statues.
Elements in Feng Shui
Wood nourishes fire by giving it tinder. Wood helps fire to grow. Wood gives fire a path to burn.
Wood destroys earth by popping out of the ground and disheveling it.
Fire nourishes earth by turning into ash. The ash helps form land and helps land to spread.
Fire destroys metal by melting it.
Earth nourishes metal by creating minerals in the soil.
Earth destroys water by drying it and cutting off its path to spread.
Metal nourishes water through condensation.
Metal destroys wood by chopping into it.
Water nourishes wood by helping flora to grow.
Water destroys fire by putting out flames.
Green is the easiest color to add into your garden. Green should already be present when you begin designing your yard. Green is also a popular color for flowers, trees, shrubs, vegetables, and fruits.
I would encourage putting in plants into your wood element space that love water and sunlight. The wood element is supported by water. You want plants that can handle soaked ground. Succulents and cacti are more related to the fire element.
Wooden trellises and pergolas are perfect for the spring element. These two type of garden features are tall, vertical, and support climbing green plants. I would encourage adding several trellises and pergolas into your garden for this reason. You want this space to be abundantly fresh, so there should be vines, climbing plants, and a healthy amount of chloroplasts.
To keep the color green alive in your garden throughout the year, add evergreens. It may prove challenging to keep green active during fall and winter. Greenhouses are another way to keep green plants growing and to maintain the wood element's chi.
The spaces dedicated to wood should feel like a blast of youth and health. The space may remind you of St. Patrick's Day.
- Citrus fruits have spring energy in feng shui.
- Avoid adding plants more associated with fall and winter, such as pumpkins, squash, and corn.
- Cut back on weeds. Make sure wood elements are not wrecking or entering your earth element space.
- Remove dead plants and rotting trees. You don't want hollowness, decay, nor termite infested pieces.
- The flora should smell healthy.
- Flora should be inviting to wildlife. Find ways to coexist with fauna in your area.
- Keep unwanted pests off fruits and veggies.
Green Vegetables, Fruits, Flowers, and Trees
Kale, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, spinach, green bell peppers, romaine lettuce, artichoke, okra, arugula, edamame, watercress, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, grape leaves
Limes, avocados, apples, pears, honeydew melon, kiwi, grapes, tomatoes
Hellebores, chrysanthemums, cymbidium orchids, daylily, zinnias, bells of Ireland, dianthus, hydrangea, calla lily, spider mums, dahlias, scabiosa
Pines, evergreens, spruce, cedar, palm, common trees
Green Represents the Heart Chakra
Green is considered the color of healing in several different cultures. The heart is one of the most important centers of the body. In chakra balancing, it is the midway point between the root chakra and your crown chakra at the top of the head.
In feng shui, the wood spaces of your garden should be nurturing to your heart and your life. You want to get in touch with your emotions, your thoughts on your family, and to nourish your body with healthy plants. The wood spaces of your garden should rely on natural elements; you don't want to overwhelm the space with artificial objects that are hard for the environment to process. (Just like preservatives are hard for your body to process)
- Wood represents yang energy. Yang is associated with cardio. The wood space should make you feel alive, alert, and happy.
- You want wood spaces to promote meditation and exercise.
- Wood spaces are perfect for chakra balancing.
- You want oxygen in your lungs. The wood element helps provide oxygen for you. The plants are generous in offering you oxygen.
You want the wood space to operate on all five sense levels to nourish your heart.
- A feng shui garden should be easy on the eyes. Surrounding yourself with nature's green hues is good for your mind. It makes you feel grounded and like you're in the right place at the right time.
- A wood space should have sounds that are attractive to the ears. The rustling of grass, the birds in the trees, the sound of rain hitting leaves, and fountains cycling water. You want to limit noise from the city or neighbors.
- There should be plants in this space that provide food. You want to eat ripe tomatoes and sweet apples. You want to taste nature.
- The wood space should be tactile. You can climb the trees, you enjoy touching the plants, and it is comforting to lay in the grass.
- The smells of the space should be soothing. Your garden space should smell natural, unlike many of the smells and particles we surround ourselves with in our homes, schools, offices, and religious buildings. You want to get nature into your nostrils.
Add Rabbit and Tiger Statues
In the Chinese Zodiac, the Rabbit and the Tiger represent spring and the wood element. The Tiger introduces the season and is considered to have yang wood energy. The Rabbit occurs after the Tiger. She is considered to have yin wood energy.
The Tiger overall takes the 3rd position in the Zodiac, the Rabbit takes the fourth slot. Adding statues of these two animals can make your garden feel more akin to the wood element. The Tiger and the Rabbit are considered guardians and protectors of spring. They're not supposed to be worshiped or considered gods or deities.
As the legend goes, the Tiger and the Rabbit used different tactics to make it to the end of the Jade Emperor's race. The race determined the order of the animals in the Zodiac.
The Tiger used raw speed to get to the end of the race, but he didn't wake up as early as the Ox to beat him. The cunning Rat jumped off the Ox in time to make it to the end, securing the first position. The Rabbit used consistency, stamina, and hard work to make it to the fourth spot. The Rabbit surprised everyone by achieving such a high rank. She beat several other fast animals, like the Dragon and the Horse.
The Tiger reminds us to charge after life. Tigers should be added in spaces to remind us to be active, to have exuberance, and to have a healthy disposition on life. In China, Tigers are considered the guardians of children.
Rabbits should be added in spaces to remind you to stay consistent, vigilant, and focused. The Rabbit in the Zodiac is keenly aware that through discipline she can create a lasting and purposeful legacy.
- I recommend adding green statues of the animals.
- Wooden figurines are a plus.
- Add Tiger art for yang wood energy.
- Add Rabbit art for yin wood energy.
1. Don't let branches touch your house. Even though you want trees to grow, you should trim them back from your house. Trees that are too close to your house bring bad luck.
2. Curvy or winding paths are best for feng shui gardens. In traditional Chinese folklore, only demons could walk straight paths. Curves help add dimension, whimsy, and charm. It's easy to see all your plants when you space them out in curves rather than in clean lines.
3. A feng shui garden should feel meditative, tranquil, and energetic. You know your garden is balanced when you feel balanced and at peace.
4. A garden shouldn't be neglected. It needs to be worked on consistently. There are always tasks ahead of you from clearing weeds, removing rotten items, getting rid of rusted tools, and clearing away debris. You as the gardener must nourish your space rather than let it turn wild and unkempt.
5. Sometimes a destructive element is necessary. For instance, if there is too much of the wood element you may have too tall of grass, weeds, poison ivy, pesky thorns, and too much shade. Use metal to cut the wood. Use metal objects to deter overindulgent wood growth.
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.
© 2021 Andrea Lawrence