Ancient religious belief? Silly mombo-jumbo?
To some maybe, but to many professional landscapers this is a valid design philosophy equal to the design styles of Mediterranean, Tropical or Japanese gardens. Remember, a few decades ago western cultures criticised Tai Chi. It is now considered a beneficial therapeutic exercise program for all ages.
For indoor designers, Feng Shui has successfully been adopted to bring harmony and prosperity to homes and buildings.
However these principles can be applied to the outdoor garden to channel the elements of health, wealth and happiness.
Although closely linked to the Tao belief system, Feng Shui itself is not a religion.
The principles of Feng Shui can be applied to almost any garden.
The five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal, water
These five elements are used by Feng Shui designers as the basis in understanding the current garden layout and how to improve it.
Wood symbolises growth, is supported by the colours green and blue, and is represented by columnar trees and shapes.
Fire symbolises energy, is supported by red, and is represented by tepee/wigwam shapes.
Earth symbolises buildings, is supported by the colours of yellow, orange and brown, and is represented by flat-top structures.
Metal symbolises gathering, is supported by white and silver, and is represented by dome shaped items.
Water symbolises meandering, is supported by the colours of dark blue, dark grey and black, and is represented by wavy patterns.
Gardening with Feng Shui
A Feng Shui garden is not designed to look ‘fabulous’, but rather to work in harmony with the natural lay of the land, while respecting the local landscape and sense of place. By following the Feng Shui principles, planting specimens that best suit the site, utilising suitable structures and buildings, then a sense of unity will be created for the garden providing optimal satisfaction and use.
Simple hints to Feng Shui your garden
• If your house is ‘L’ shaped, place a stone, pot or columnar tree at the point which would ‘square-off’ the house (consult a feng shui designer to validate this is right for your garden on your piece of land)
• Keep the front fence low.
• Swimming pools should not have sharp corners, especially if the corner points back to the house.
• Remove clutter from around the garden.
• Do not plant specimens that can be invasive or need a lot of maintenance.
• Underplant large trees with ground covers to achieve a maintenance free bed.
• Place a terracotta pot or stone in the north-east corner of the garden.
• Use money and fortune plants to bring prosperity to yourself.
• Place a water feature to the south east of the home as water accumulates chi for the benefit of the inhabitants of the place (note: using water features requires advice from a Feng shui designer)
Money and Fortune – How to use it
Money plants (refer to list below) are best placed on the right hand side of front door.
Fortune plants (refer to list below) are best places on left hand side.
Examples of traditional Feng Shui plants are:-
• Treasure Fern (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) ... fortune
• Happy plant (Dracaena fragrans) … fortune
• Jade plant (Portulacaria afra) … money
• Fortune tree/Desert rose (Adenium obesum) … fortune
• Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderana) … fortune
• Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) … money
Many Feng Shui plants are decorated with traditional Chinese ornaments that symbolise wealth and health.
Feng Shui is a very involved design process. There are many books on the topic, however if you plan to hire a landscaper to Feng Shui your garden, ensure they are trained in this specialised style.