Oriental Feng Shui Gardens


Oriental Gardens

Apply Feng Shui to your Outdoor Living

A garden is a place that should be inviting and pleasurable. How you arrange all the things in your garden is key to creating an oasis, and not a jungle. Feng Shui is the classic Chinese art of arranging furniture and possessions to help you find ways to live more harmoniously in your environment. To the Chinese, Chi, the natural life-force, can be out of balance if spaces are not inviting and tranquil. Adherents believe that how you set up your home, workspace and garden will influence every aspect of your life: your emotional and physical well-being, your career, even your love life. Whether or not you believe that, if you apply the principles of Feng Shui to your yard and garden, you will transform the area around your house into an oasis for you and your family. Those principles are the basics of smart and natural garden design that will make every garden more attractive and pleasing to be in.
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I see Feng Shui landscape designing, as another way of bringing balance for your personal enhancement. Working with the earth brings the qualities of earth to you. The basic element of earth is healing, regenerative, and without any effort at all, you receive these benefits. It is a way of bringing forth a balance of the yin and yang, light and darkness are balanced by using different elements: water, earth, fire (example: pointy leaves of plants represent this element) rocks, wood element (trees), metals (flower pots, wind chimes or a metal bench to sit and reflect the days events. When you take these elements and use the bagua-the map of Feng Shui, you are able to draw beneficial energy to you and your home.

A way to apply the Feng Shui philosophy to your garden is starting at the entrance. An arbor, for example, makes clear to people where to come in and makes the garden inviting." Ideally," the entrance faces south -- the direction, by the way, where your garden will get maximum sun exposure. A closed gate would be less inviting for people and energy, and it might shade some of your plants. Though there are no particular Feng Shui plants, Colors have a strong impact on energy flow, just as they have been shown to influence our moods. Hot colors, like red and yellow flowers, lift up your energy level when you're looking at them. The cooler-colored purple and white flowers are more soothing.

Remember, Feng Shui emphasizes diversity. The Five Elements you want to have represented in your garden are:

  • Wood;
  • Metal;
  • Earth;
  • Fire; and,
  • Water.

Water, be it a fountain, pond or bird bath, is very soothing. By the way, attracting birds is the best, most natural form of bug control, because they eat pest insects. If you don't have enough space for a birdbath, there are other ways to incorporate water into a garden. A simple electric fountain would do. Just add water and the electric pump would recycle it.

The compass directions have corresponding colors to help create your balanced landscaping. When you involve the elements and colors of the bagua map, it creates the good energy-chi and it is carried into your home to help empower you and your family. The balance of inside/outside Feng Shui will give you the extra boost it takes to live your life in harmony and balance. You will also realize that once you create this harmony, more birds, butterflies, praying mantis will arrive on the scene to share and add to this energized area. You will also find this area to be one that attracts the human race to your area.





Landscape design is not just a matter of putting up a building, planting trees and flowers, or building an artificial mountain. It is a means of revealing one's attitude of life by displaying landscape esthetically. Landscape needs to be restrained, gentle, and understated. We should modestly hide, not boldly dominate as is fashionable in the West. This enables a more intimate experience and sense of fitting into the environment.

The Chinese way of thinking follows a clear path:

  • Respect experiences.
  • Discern the truth by studying the past.
  • Stand between science and theology.
  • Combine ethics with esthetics.
  • In Chinese history no special ideal or religion controls spiritual life — real life comes before anything else. Chinese respect nature and self-knowing, and people adapt into a natural world more easily.

Chinese will search for compromise while a Westerner wants a Yes or No answer. This constitutes fundamentally different approaches to landscape design.

In Western thought we oscillate between total belief in a Creator (ignoring real life) or a full belief in human power to explore and dominate the world (which in many respects also ignores real life). Westerners measure their world in human dimensions, with the formal garden recognized as a symbol of human power and achievement. People of Western thought are conquerors and improvers of nature, so people want a walled-in and controlled copy of Paradise (perfection beyond real life).

By enabling and worshipping human power, we lose our fear of wildness. We conquer nature, sanitize and "improve" it. And these ideas are intrinsically Western, coming as they do from Plato and Christian theology.

There is an attitude of profit regarding land in the West. The practical and utilitarian trend is Western, which historically was restricted in the East. In the East the attitude encompasses humility and respect for the forces of nature and heaven.

It is very rare in Chinese design history to place geometrical forms on hilly land, as is common in Western countries. Only in the Chinese Emperor's gardens were geometric forms acceptable, because for Chinese they are symbols of respect for natural forces (heaven and earth).

You will find nothing about improvement of the land, no modification of perceived imperfections or a need to control or dominate the landscape. Even the Son of Heaven would not assume he had the authority to do such a thing.

The four landscape elements are:

  • Mountain
  • Water
  • Plant
  • Building

Yin and Yang in the landscape consist of:

  • Stillness and movement
  • Unity and variety
  • Locality and generality
  • Scenery and subjective reactions

Practical Application

Feng Shui patios and gardens are closer in spirit to low-maintenance rock than to formal English artificial and overdesigned European gardens, which are characterized by unnatural features such as severe corners, angles and straight lines.

Whether you live in a condo or a mansion, whether you are positioning a potted plant on your patio or having many acres professionally landscaped, putting everything in its right place according to feng shui principles will help create a healing, harmonious and natural environment.

In designing your outdoor space, be mindful of the three basic concepts of Feng Shui:

  • Energy flow (wavy or curvy is beneficial; straight lines are negative)
  • Balance of yin (dark, soft, passive) and yang (light, hard, active)
  • Generative and destructive relationships of the five elements:
    • Wood,
    • Fire,
    • Earth,
    • Metal, and
    • Water.





Stand in the center of your outdoor space.

Use a compass to determine the eight directions.


Creativity, Personal growth, New ideas, Inspiration, Prospects, Career, Music, Art

  • Use: Water elements
  • Good place for: Metal toolsheds, ponds, Jacuzzis
  • Shapes: Waves & curves
  • Avoid: Stone, clay, earth.


Knowledge, Wisdom, Meditation/reading, Inner journeys, Spiritual and intellectual growth, Nature

  • Use: Earth element
  • Good place for: Stone benches, rock gardens, repairing equipment, stones and boulders, statuaries, brick, flagstone, anything made from the earth
  • Shapes: Low and flat surfaces
  • Avoid: Plants and trees.


New life and growth, Rebirth and rejuvenation, Harmony, Health, Family life, Nutrition, Healing

  • Use: Wood element
  • Good place for: Fruit trees, herbs, medicinal plants, play equipment, sauna, tai chi and other exercises, trees, plants
  • Shapes: Columns, cylinders
  • Avoid: Metal garden accessories, patio furniture, tools, white flowers.


Wealth, Abundance, Material possessions, Communication

  • Use: Wood element
  • Good place for: Cultivation and display of show plants, flowers or fish
  • Shapes: Cylinders, posts and columns
  • Avoid: Metal garden accessories, patio furniture and tools, white flowers.


Opportunity, Dreams, Aspirations, Awards, Fame, Achievement, Happiness, Longevity, Festivity

  • Use: Fire element
  • Good place for: Barbecues, fire pits, burning leaves, trees, flowers
  • Shapes: Pointed and triangular shapes
  • Avoid: Water elements such as ponds, waterfalls, and fountains.


Marriage, Romance, Motherhood, Love, Relationships, Partners

  • Use: Earth element
  • Good place for: Seating/dining for two, team sports
  • Shapes: Low, flat surfaces
  • Avoid: Wood patio or deck furniture, gazebos, fences and gates, the color green.


Children, Creativity, Harvest, Socializing and entertaining

  • Use: Metal element
  • Good place for: Outdoor entertaining, bar, children's playground/garden, convalescing and healing, sunbathing
  • Shapes: Circles and arches
  • Avoid: Barbecues, fire pit, pyramid, red flowers.


Trade, Interests outside of home, International travel, Fatherhood, Mentors and benefactors, Helpful people, Supporters

  • Use: Metal element
  • Good place for: Statues of deities, angels, cherubs, animals, wind chimes, sounds
  • Shapes: Circles and arches
  • Avoid: Barbecues, fire pit, pyramid, red flowers.