I now have the theory to explain why and how outdoor art gardens make you feel so good. In reading more about Feng Shui (meaning wind and water) recently, I discovered that this ancient art works outdoors the same as indoors. I admit to being a novice in explaining and applying Feng Shui in my outdoor garden. I also find it amazing that I now understand why my art garden blog categories (yard art, landscape art, water/motion/ sound, metal and rustic/recycled art) are so in tune with my new knowledge of Feng Shui. Apparently, I was practicing Feng Shui instinctively without the underlying knowledge as to why it made sense to me. Best of all is the knowledge that trusting your instincts usually gives you the right answers!
I learned that a key element of Feng Shui is the ‘Tao’ or way of being in tune to nature. Just as the earth nourishes us, we can return the favor by respecting Mother Nature and creating spaces around us that support us emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. One article included this meaningful quote by John Muir, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
Feng Shui -A Little History
Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art that allows for maximum energy flow and chi (natural life force) by balancing the five natural elements of water, wood, fire, earth and metal. By using these elements to decorate your outdoor space, you can add lucky or favorable aspects to your life. The ‘wind and water’ focuses on the direction, placement and intention and helps you achieve Chi (happiness, prosperity, harmony and balance) as you incorporate all five elements into your outdoor living room.
Outdoor Feng Shui 101 – Some Basic Principles
Your garden should be balanced within itself as well as with the home itself. One way of explaining the balance is with yin and yang. The outdoors, for example, represents the yin (calm) and the inside of the house represents the yang (active). Here are a few other basic principles of outdoor Feng Shui:
Add items that have personal meaning like stones, statues, mirrors, and gifts into your outdoor plan.
Clean up the clutter in your garden, remove dead or dying plants and always leave space (earth) between your plantings and placements (for the easy flow of Chi energy).
Streamline your designs, keeping them simple and requiring little maintenance thereby leaving room for the energy flow to move through your yard.
Arrange your plants in ‘bright/high energy patches’ and ‘pale/tranquil patches’ based on the bagua planning chart below.
Use curves to enhance tranquility and to add movement of energy through your garden.
Try not having too many straight, even lines as they act as barriers to energy movement. Instead, round out the straight lines with plants, walkways, hedges or bedding areas to add rhythm and flow throughout your garden area.
Use trees to enhance your spaces and to obscure unwelcome features thus balancing out the other features in the garden. (I also learned that, in ancient China, trees were regarded as having special powers).
If you have a tree or shrub that points downward (such as a weeping willow), balance it with plants that grow in a strong vertical line to emphasize upward and uplifting growth and direction.
Always add whimsical elements that encourage smiles, fun and enjoyment.
Practitioners of Feng Shui use a Bagua Map to help identify the best direction, placement, materials and colors to use in their designs. You should also try to include these suggestions when planning and organizing your outdoor garden area. If you just think of your garden area as another room in your house (or if you have a large enough area, two or more rooms in your house), it will not be so hard to visualize and apply the Feng Shui techniques. (Sketch a 9 square grid and place these directions in the appropriate boxes to better visualize the Bagua Mapping Tool.)
NORTHWEST — (metal) arbor, tuned wind chimes, chairs
NORTH — (water) pond, outdoor garden fountain, birdbath
NORTHEAST — (earth) clay pots, rocks, soil
WEST — (metal) arbor, tuned wind chimes, chairs
CENTER — open area for free flow of chi
EAST — (wood) outdoor wooden bench, planting boxes
SOUTHWEST — (earth) clay pots, rocks, soil
SOUTH — (fire) lights, grill, chimenea (freestanding fireplace)
SOUTHEAST — (wood) outdoor wooden bench, planting boxes
Use All Five Elements
Don’t forget to integrate all five elements into your outdoor living space to help bring health, happiness, enjoyment and prosperity to you and your family. Here are some quick tips on how you can integrate each of them:
Water – fountain(s), pool, stream, pond with gold fish for good luck, dark blue accessories, crystal, glass, mirrors, and bird baths.
Wood- flowers, trees, decks, fences, pergolas, wood furniture/benches, green or blue objects for planters, cushions, etc.
Fire- fire pits, outdoor fireplace, candles, torches and objects of red, deep yellow, and bright orange.
Earth- stones, brick, flagstone, ceramic tile, earthenware, adobe brick, terra cotta and brown, beige, yellow and earth tones for colors.
Metal- iron fences, gates, planters, wind chimes, metal water fountains, wrought iron furniture/benches, metal arches and gates using brass, copper, silver or gold or metals.
While the economy is in a negative condition, we should all try to help ourselves in as many ways as possible to move our own ‘chi’ and current status into a more positive condition. Just remember that lots of noted people use this ancient practice to enhance the bounties in their lives (including Oprah)… so why shouldn’t we all give it a try?
Is it Feng Shui Outdoor Art yet? Yes, now go enjoy!