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 for Positive Chi
A feng shui garden helps attract nourishing chi to your household. You want your garden to be balanced. The garden should use the five traditional elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water.
- Every element nourishes one particular element.
- Every element is destructive to one particular element.
- Using all five elements together creates harmony and flow.
Everything around us is made up of chemicals and chemical reactions. In feng shui, you're trying to bring aspects together to create positive reactions. You don't want your wood warping, your fire throwing off toxic embers, discolored water, and rusted metal. Feng shui encourages you to think about what you're putting next to each other, so as to create a healthy flow. When your garden is balanced, it will be a place of nourishment, relaxation, and meditation.
You want to think of your feng shui garden as a work in progress in chemistry, physics, and biology. You want to reach toward nature, so it gives back to you in return. Your garden is a metaphor for your household members' longevity.
- The size of your garden doesn't matter. You can have a small yard that still puts out nourishing vibes.
- You want to strengthen each area designated for each element to bring auspicious energy.
- Bagua is the energy map of your home. Your garden bagua is an extension of your house.
- Gentle curving pathways are recommend for feng shui gardens. They're considered a softer chi that has a smoother flow than straight lines. Straight lines are rare in nature. (Also, in Chinese folklore, only demons could move in straight lines.)
- Feng shui gardens encourage meandering in nature. They're about creating long term visions and lasting legacies.
Think about each bagua space and the energy that's projected. Think about what's needed in each area and then add items into your garden accordingly.
There are different kinds of bagua maps. The classical map is a nine square grid. The Western Feng Shui bagua takes the nine squares and aligns them into rows of three.
The nine areas are related to the following elements:
- Wealth — Wood
- Fame — Fire
- Marriage — Earth
- Family — Wood
- Health — Wood
- Children — Metal
- Knowledge — Earth
- Career — Water
- Travel — Metal
Each cardinal direction represents a different element and aspect of life. You want each space to flow and blend well. Your garden should be attractive to wildlife, especially bees, butterflies, and birds.
Yin and Yang Principles for Feng Shui Gardens
Blue and Black
Red, White, Yellow
Black and White
Circles, Ovals, Spheres
Triangles, Stars, Diamonds, Squares, Rectangles, Prisms
Distinct, Sharp, Lines, Triangular
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
Yin and Yang Principles
Yin and yang are opposites of each other. They are the end points of a spectrum. Yin is night and yang is day. In nature, the sun doesn't immediately hide and then we have night. Day transitions into night. At sunrise and sunset, both day and night are occuring.
Those sunrise and sunset times are considered cusps. They're merge points between two events. It's important to consider cusps when designing your garden. You want things to gradually adjust rather than sharply change. Sudden change can be jarring or clashy. Sudden change is often associated with grief.
- Use colors to make bridge points between sections. When moving from a yellow space to a blue space, use green.
- Use shapes as a way to blend areas. Use hearts and other blended shapes that have properties of both yin and yang.
The north relates to your path in life and career. This space should be dedicated to water and dark colors. Water in feng shui is compared to one's money and cash flow.
A water droplet on its own will fade away and not make that much impact. A collection of water droplets can turn into a pond, a river, a lake, or an ocean. Money is similar. A single coin will get lost in a purse. A large collection of coins increases a person's leverage to make choices in society.
The North area should be supported by dark metals. Metal supports water. Dark colored wood furnishings are also encouraged. If the water space is overindulgent, it may flood. You should bring in earth features to curb the water.
The North is a perfect place for water installations:
- Koi Ponds
- Streams and creeks
- Snow globes
- Bubble machines
- Bird baths
The North should have plants that enjoy lots of water. Add flowers with green stems and blue or black petals.
You want the water to flow toward your house as this brings you good luck. The water's flow toward your house is a metaphor for fortune and prosperity.
Check the waters to make sure they're not cloudy, covered in debris, or discolored. The pH level is also important to check, especially if you have fish.
You want clean, clear, and flowing water. Water is also represented in mirrors and glass. This is a good area to add mirrors or glass art.
Metal wind chimes help create a nice aesthetic in the north. Add coins into the fountain, metal chairs for seating, and statues of rats or pigs to go along with the Chinese Zodiac. The Rat and the Pig are considered guardians of the water element.
The perfect spot for a zen garden. The Northeast represents personal and spiritual growth. This is a space that promotes knowledge.
The zen garden should be separated from the rest of your garden with a gate or a bamboo wall. You want to prevent weeds from entering the area or debris getting mixed into your gravel pit.
This space is dedicated to meditation and yoga. It is a place to think, rest, eat lunch, and make creative designs by raking gravel. This is also a place where you can move around rocks and create abstract images. Rocks can symbolize things in your life: big rocks for mountains, small rocks for caves, long and skinny rocks for rivers.
Knowledge comes from minimizing distractions. It is encouraged to design this space in mostly muted colors. A zen garden relates to the connection between earth and heaven.
Fire features support the zen garden. Add pops of red, candles, lanterns, and metal triangles and stars. Fire features should remind you of the cosmos and the heavens. An excellent zen garden has a great view of the night sky and all the stars.
Rely on metal or ceramic furnishings rather than wood ones. Your gravel rake should be made of metal or an earthen material.
Add pottery, bricks, terra cotta, porcelain, and other earth elements to strengthen the energy of the space. The zen garden should have winding paths and materials that are noticeably different from the rest of your yard. The zen garden is in contrast to the other spaces. It's meant to be a spiritual place that isn't held down by the natural laws of the world.
Element Relationships to Each Other
Water nourishes wood by helping flora to grow.
Water destroys fire by putting out flames and cutting off fire's path.
Wood nourishes fire by giving it tinder. Wood helps fire to grow and gives it a path to burn.
Wood destroys earth by popping out of it and disheveling the land. Wood destroys zen gardens with weeds.
Fire nourishes earth by turning into ashes. The ashes help form land and help earth 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.
Metal nourishes water through condensation.
Metal destroys wood by chopping into it.
Health and longevity are the focuses of the East. This space should be dedicated to the wood element.
The wood element is about the color green and oxygen. You want spaces that are dedicated to wood to work on all five of your main senses.
- The green and lush plants should be easy on your eyes.
- The tastes of the green fruits and vegetables should be satisfying and promote better health.
- The sounds of the green wood space are pleasant to the ears: birds singing up in the trees, the rustling of leaves, the grass waving in the wind, the sounds of crickets and cicadas, the flow of water from fountains.
- It should be enjoyable to touch the plants, climb the trees, run your hands along leaves, and stroke wood furniture. The space should be tactile.
- The smells of the flowers and fruits should help you feel more connected to the planet. The smells may even make you feel like you can breathe better.
Wood is the easiest element to bring out in a feng shui garden. It should be easy to grow plants and bring out the green color.
Keep in mind, it's important to care for your garden regularly. You don't want to neglect any space. Here are a couple of tips:
- Remove dead plants, weeds, or any signs of decay.
- Remove fruits and vegetables that didn't turn out right.
- Remove graying fruits and veggies.
- Chop down trees that have died.
- Trim back branches away from your house.
- Read about fruits and vegetables carefully to learn what foods are compatible to grow around each other and which ones cause problems, like inviting unwanted pests or root rot.
Another space for abundance and wealth. The Southeast should be a healthy blend of wood and water. There should be several wooden accessories in this space.
Water is the source of abundance. With a great deal of water, plants can grow. In the same way, with a great deal of money you can have more property.
The Southeast should be a mix of green, teal, and purple. This is an excellent spot to add flowers with green stems and purple petals. Since the space is combining yin and yang like features, I would encourage art dedicated to rabbits. In the Chinese Zodiac, the Rabbit represents wood, which is a yang element. However, the Rabbit represents yin energy where the Tiger represents yang. (Every season has one animal that represents yin and one animal that represents yang.)
- Add ponds or streams and wooden bridges.
- Add a fountain.
- Add wooden mills.
- Add rounded wooden chairs.
- Add shapes that are a hybrid of yin and yang, like hearts.
- Add amethyst and other purple crystals.
- Add mirrors and glass art.
- Add tall wooden trellises and pergolas.
- Plant fruits, vegetables, and spices that are purple: eggplants, amaranth, lavender, berries, grapes, black currants, etc.
- Add a pond for purple colored fish.
Elements and Corresponding Colors
|Elements||Colors||Yin / Yang|
Green, Teal, Blue, Brown, Purple
Red, Orange, Yellow, Pink, White
Brown, Orange, Yellow, Earth Tones
Yin + Yang Hybrid
White, Silver, Gray
Blue and Black
The home of fire and fame. Do not put water elements in this area. This area should be warm, inviting, and energetic. Use warm tones in this space: red, orange, yellow, pink, and white.
The fire space should get plenty of sunlight. The plants in this area should love sunlight, and prefer to grow in sunlight rather than shade. Add flowers with petals in warm tones. Roses, tulips, carnations, marigolds, and sunflowers are all welcome in this space.
The South is perfect for a fireplace or grill. Firepits are great for communal events. Add chairs around the firepit in wood or ceramic materials, but not metal. You want your fire space to receive minimum shade, so cut trees back. You want a clear and open view of the sky to see the sun in the day and the stars at night.
- Hanging lanterns are another nice touch.
- Miniature pagodas are recommended for spaces embracing fire.
- Add string lights.
- Add solar lights and solar panels.
- Add tiki torches.
- Add images of stars and triangles. Stars represent heat. Triangles mimic the shape of flames.
- Cacti and succulents are great plants for spaces designed for the fire element.
- Add a stone pizza oven, which is also a great item to add to lure in guests.
A mix of fire, earth, and metal is meant to support relationships. The space is dedicated to love, relationships, and marriage. You want to use warm tones: add flowers that are pink, red, yellow, orange, and white.
The fire features are meant to support the earth element. Represent earth in this space by creating flat and square spaces. You want enough space where people feel they can meet, mingle, and enjoy each other's company. The space is meant for garden parties and reunions.
Add benches and seats in pairs. The emphasis for this area should be on couples, pairs, soul mates, and twin flames.
Add hints of metal around earth elements. You can blend fire and metal together by using lots of earth features.
- The area should be level and square.
- The colors should be warm and friendly.
- Add shiny metal installations.
- Clear out weeds, miscellaneous leaves, and debris. Push the wood element away.
- Avoid columns.
- Add square shaped objects, boxes and crates.
- Plant in squares.
- Add metal objects in warm tones: gold, bronze, and copper.
- Earth tones are also welcome in this space.
- Add string lights.
- Add a telescope.
- Avoid stairs.
- Add a dance floor space.
- Trim back plants. This shouldn't be your most greenest space.
|Animals||Element||Yin / Yang|
The West represents hobbies and pleasures. The main element is metal supported by earth. The area should promote activity and play. Children feel welcome in this space; they don't feel like they'll accidentally break something.
Add wind chimes and quartz decorations. Level out a space where you can practice yoga and meditation.
Add plants that are yellow and white. You want the space to have a sunny disposition that also fits fall. Think of early fall just when the leaves are starting to change their colors, not at their peak.
Add metal objects that are circular or square. Avoid tall structures like columns, trellises, and pergolas. Plants and the color green are okay, but don't go overboard. This shouldn't be your most lush place.
Add statues of monkeys and goats. Both creatures are whimsical and have positive energies that fit childhood. The Monkey is the first sign of fall. According to legend, the Monkey, the Rooster, and the Dog went off to another country during the big race held by the Jade Emperor. They went off track to fight off evil.
The Monkey is a guardian of spirituality. Metal represents heaven. A space with metal should be a place to reflect, gain knowledge, and consider the cosmos.
The area of your garden is dedicated to meeting new people. The space should be focused on metal. You want to foster a comfortable social environment; add seats in metallic colors of white, silver, and gray.
Decorate the trees with metal accessories: bells, chains, wind chimes, and the like. The flowers should be white, small, and delicate.
The Northwest is a great place to setup a shrine for your family. This can be a place to store precious metals and gems that you don't want ruined by rain. The shrine can be a place to remember your ancestors and the past. It can also be a space to reflect on your descendants and the future.
The Monkey, Rooster, and Dog are all welcome in this space. Add art related to this trifecta who will stop at nothing to vanquish evil. The animals of the Chinese Zodiac are not considered gods or deities. They're considered guardians and protectors of the elements.
- Metal supports water. Water elements are welcome here.
- Streams are meant to be panned for minerals.
- You could add a tool shed in this area or something similar to protect your tools.
- You want to prevent your metals from rust and other damage.
- Keep fire elements out of this space. Heat will warp your metals.
- Shaded areas are welcome in the Northwest.
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