Greening Your Landscape Feng Shui Style
Get Started with These Simple Tips
© Mary Jane Kasliner
Making small landscape adjustments is a powerful way to save the planet and promote healthy energy.
Most people believe feng shui principles apply to internal spaces only; however, feng shui originated in the outside environment. Its principles rely on the forces of nature, the cyclical changes of seasons, time of day, astronomy, and land topography. Qi (energy) assessments should begin from the outside in order to determine if the environment will sustain the occupants within the structure. Powerful landforms are paramount for sheng (healthy) qi to propagate in the environment and fuel its occupants.
When deciding on a particular property, look for land containing sandy or high organic soil base with minimal compaction. The more soil is compacted, the less ability it has to absorb water. This will, in effect, trigger excessive watering and work against preserving natural resources. Avoid water-filled clay-based soil at all costs. As Russian engineer Georges Lakhovsky discovered in 1929, this type of soil is unable to fully absorb the sun’s radiation and, as a result, a secondary radiation is emitted into the environment that can cause health problems.
Strong and healthy vegetation suggests that land is fertile and sustainable. Good support to the rear and sides of the building, with an open front, allows qi to navigate the land properly. Preserving all trees and plants during construction and/or remodeling stages maintains the integrity of the soil base and internal qi of the land. By honoring the natural landscape and using indigenous plants, you can keep natural bacteria and fungi at proper levels for healthy soil and qi.
The fundamental idea of xeriscape design is water conservation. Creating terraces in the natural contours of the land will add visual interest and help reduce soil erosion. Replacing a good portion of green turf with gardens and hard, permeable scaping saves on water usage and adds visual appeal. Keeping these gardens at least 24 inches from the foundation prevents potential mold growth. Layering the landscaping with height variations is aesthetically pleasing and good for proper soil PH. For example, start with a large canopy tree, then move to a lower tree, add shrubbery, herbs, root vegetables, ground cover and vines. Be sure to use appropriate plants that are native to the region and the direction planted. For example, for hot, dry areas with south and west exposure, choose plants that need minimal water. For north and east areas, choose plants that like more moisture.
Water Cisterns, Rain Gardens and Water Chains
Instead of using a hose to water your gardens, be creative and build rain gardens into your landscape. These gardens can be natural or manmade shallow depressions designed to capture storm-water runoff. Cisterns or water chains work on the same principle but are either a container (cistern) or decorative chain with cup pouches that capture water runoff from the roof. The water chains have the added benefit of providing a soothing sound quality every time it rains.
Pesticides kill the natural bacteria and fungi needed for healthy soil. Besides planting various complementary forms of vegetation, incorporate biological pest control. This is a method of controlling pests via their predators. It’s not only natural but also safer for the environment.
The circle is a sacred symbol as it represents infinity, perfection and eternity. This is a powerful shape that you can bring into your garden space. Embellish it with natural elements, incorporating different flowers, rocks, spheres, garden art, or a pond or stream.Make sure you add an enclosure so you get the feeling of a sanctuary. This can be done with natural materials to emulate the Garden of Eden. Consider creating a garden that will attract wildlife, as this will bring in the elements of sound. Birdsong provides a lively, yet reassuring soundscape to any environment.
Water in the Garden
Water is of great importance in feng shui and symbolizes the accumulation of qi that is synonymous with wealth. One of the first things to keep in mind when constructing a garden pond is the size in relation to the size of the home and its proximity to the home. Bigger is not necessarily better. Everything in the garden should blend in with the existing landscape features. Try to incorporate natural materials and use curving designs, as these dynamics are in alignment with nature. Make sure there are rocks or ledges to help small animals safely navigate the pond.
An irregular shape is ideal to create the look of a natural pond. The more irregular the shape, the more plants and wildlife will thrive in and around it. A pond that is perfectly round tends to move the energy too quickly and those that are square tend to shoot energy off the edges. Albeit regular shaped ponds are easier to install, just make sure you soften the structure with more plants around the edges.
To balance the yin component of the still pond you can add the yang energy of rocks. This combination reflects the mountain and lake formations so important to the study of feng shui.
Here are a few basic tips on choosing rockery:
1. Use an odd number of stones.
2. Bury the stones at least 1/3rd into the soil.
3. Place stones according to their graining.
4. Use a flat stone next to an upright one.
5. Choose the most weathered part of the stone to face forward.
6. Keep in mind that rockeries should mirror the natural world.
There are many theories in feng shui on how water should flow. The major, common sense rule for water placement is that it should not flow quickly towards the home in case of flooding. It is auspicious when water trickles towards the home, as it symbolizes wealth rolling in. According to the flying star feng shui method,it is also auspicious to have water trickling in from the southwest for the next eleven years, as this symbolizes future prosperity.
Productive Feng Shui Garden
Many of us enjoy homegrown fruits and vegetables. You can actually turn your whole garden into a productive feng shui garden. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Think about adding a large circular bed to the center of the garden, subdividing it into four sections. Three of the sections can be used for vegetables while the fourth section can be used for fruits. Consider incorporating a decorative trellis or pergola in the center of the bed, allowing climber plants to grow up the sides. This will act as a wonderful focal point for the garden.
2. Create winding pathways to the garden. Make sure you use different materials for the path such as brick, stone, slate or gravel.
3. Add a decorative gate at the garden entrance. The direction of the entryway will dictate the best material to use for the gate. For example, a western entry would work well with a lovely arched wrought iron gate.
4. Plant herbs in the eastern quadrant of the garden; choose a variety for healthy home-cooked meals for the family. Just make sure you are using organic soil and seeds. This is also a lovely area to place a wooden table with chairs to enjoy that home-cooked meal.
5. In the southeast region, you might add a birdbath, fountain, or pond. This will give birds a place to frolic, and fish a place to swim, both moving life forces of energy to stimulate wealth. You may even attract a few frogs, which will act as natural pest control for your garden.
6. The southern portion is the perfect setting for an outdoor fire pit or barbecue to enjoy friends and family gatherings any time of the year.
7. In the southwestern portion of the garden add some red blooming flowers and place a romantic stone statue or a bistro table for two to create a little romantic get-away.
8. The west is all about fun and a perfect area to add that croquet set or even the kids’ play gym. Whatever hobbies you enjoy will find a comfortable home in this direction.
9. The northwest is the perfect area for a sundial or weathervane. Add a large sitting stone and relax while contemplating these age-old symbols of time and wind direction.
10. Create a straight pathway in the north to wake up sleepy qi or perhaps a water feature with a metal accent to bring yang energy to an otherwise yin direction.
11. The northeastern portion of the garden is a great place for the compost. A productive garden will produce plenty of waste material that can be reused to keep the garden healthy. Another option for this area is to create a zen-like feel with gravel and a spiritual stone sculpture.
Designing a landscape for your home or business using the fundamentals of feng shui is a satisfying and uplifting experience. By following the steps I’ve just outlined, you can create a beautiful and peaceful space that brings joy to its inhabitants without harming the environment.
Mary Jane Kasliner has a passion for enhancing the lives of others through Feng Shui. She is President of Body Space Alignment & Director of Teaching Tortoise School of Feng Shui. She is the author of several feng shui books and CD’s. Mary Jane is also a nationally certified yoga teacher. Contact her via fengshuiyoganj.com.