At its foundation, Feng Shui is ancient wisdom passed down from people who were far more attuned to their natural environment than members of modern society. Today, we live in concrete jungles and highly degraded habitats. For many of us, our garden and yard are our primary place of rejuvenation and escape, even if only for a few moments while we sip our morning coffee.
What Has Feng Shui Got to Do with Gardening?
We consciously, and sometimes unconsciously, attempt to reconnect with nature in our garden and yard because instinctively, at least at some level, we know we need to do that for our physical and mental well-being. However, we’ve also become a bit lost on how to do that. Feng Shui can help us rediscover the ancient wisdom accumulated over many generations of our ancestors. The basic principles of Feng Shui can help guide us in planning our garden and yard, even for those who do not actively practice Feng Shui.
The Importance of Natural Energy Flow Through a Garden and Yard
The practice of Feng Shui emphasizes the free flow of positive energy. Further, the yard, front, back, and sides — large or small — is considered an extension of the home for the purpose of this flow of energy. With this in mind, the natural energy outside the primary entrance and exit to home, typically the front door, should never be blocked. In practical terms, this means not planting large trees or high shrubs in the front yard that would impede the free flow of energy into the home. Other obstacles such as a high privacy wall or a tall fence should also be avoided in this location, according to foundational Feng Shui principles. Related to this, it is considered good Feng Shui to be able to have a wide-open view as you exit through the main entrance. This allows you to grow as a person and see all the possibilities life has to offer.
Feng Shui also subscribes to the principles of people conforming to nature rather than people working against nature. You’ll notice that in nature, there are seldom perfectly straight lines and hard ninety-degree turns. Rather, pathways and the geometries of nature (think tree branches) are usually curved and irregular. As much as possible, the practice of Feng Shui in a yard and garden would indicate to implement curved paths and include irregular more natural shapes into the landscaping.
Noise Pollution and the Pursuit of a Natural Soundscape
The negative effects of noise pollution and the positive effects of natural sounds is not talked about enough in our modern-day society as we have become, by and large, disconnected to nature. Feng Shui does a good job of reminding us of what our ancestors understood perfectly. We as human beings are designed to be part of nature. Moreover, the more removed from nature we become, the less healthy we become. If you want to Feng Shui your yard and garden, and restore some balance in your life, you should do what you can, understanding there are practical limitations, to reduce unnatural noise and invite natural sounds into your yard’s soundscape.
Believe it or not, one extremely effective barrier to unwanted sound is hay bales. They’re also environmentally friendly and not too expensive. If you live near a busy road or another source of unwanted noise, consider building a barrier with hay bales. You can leave them natural and just replace them down the line or you can coat them with mud or sand to seal them and paint them or simply let this dry to a natural finish. Planting trees and other vegetation will also reduce noise pollution but not as effectively as hay bales because they’re much denser. In fact, houses built from hay bales are known to be much quieter than traditional houses.
To invite a natural soothing soundscape into your yard and garden, you can start by attracting more songbirds. To do this, simply make your yard and garden more attractive to them. Birdbaths are very popular in Feng Shui gardens, as are birdhouses and bird feeders. You can purchase these of course but you can also upcycle garbage and make your own! Planting native plants that will attract birds with nectar, seeds, fruits, and good places to rest and hide. Water features of any kind will also create a soothing natural sound of running water. You can also hang a wind chime to accentuate the sound of the wind rustling through.
Eliminate Light Pollution
Ancient people were able to view the entire Milky Way when they gazed upon the sky at night. That’s because there was no light pollution, other than perhaps a fire which is easily put out or escaped. Our ability to harmonize with nature has been severely compromised by light pollution. Moreover, scientists are beginning to publish peer-reviewed research demonstrating the harmful effects of light pollution on our physical health, sleep patterns, and psychology.
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Spending time outdoors at night can be just as rejuvenating to the mind and body as enjoying the sunshine during the day. However, many people put solar lamps and floodlights in the yard and garden which not only defeat the purpose of a rejuvenating garden experience but can actually be harmful. If you eliminate these lights and do what you can to block nearby light pollution, your eyes will adjust, and you’ll experience far more from nature. For example, you’ll be much more apt to spot an owl, see bats, or deter the faint bioluminescence of some insects. You may be interested to know too that many species of songbirds prefer to migrate at night, but you’ll probably never see them with light pollution! You’ll also find that your hearing becomes more acute in natural darkness and you’ll experience a soundscape as you’ve never experienced before.
The Five Basic Elements of Feng Shui
In Feng Shui, there are five natural elements. While we won’t cover here the traditional placements of these five elements, nor the traditional Feng Shui cures these elements can bring through special placement, it’s most important that you know to include all five elements and make sure that none of them dominate over the others.
The five Feng Shui elements are:
Try to include items from each of these Feng Shui elements in your yard and garden. We’ve already discussed a flowing water feature and a birdbath for water. You could also potentially create a small pond or get a cistern or rain barrel. For fire, consider an outdoor fire pit or outdoor fireplace. For something less expensive, try outdoor torches or outdoor lanterns. For earth, clay pots or other outdoor pottery work great. For metal, you could use a metal wind chime, a metal sculpture, or simply metallic garden decorations. Wood is easy a one if you have trees or a wooden fence but you can also consider making garden signs from wood or placing a Feng Shui wooden statue in your garden.
What we have covered here only scratches the surface of the ancient wisdom you can gain from Feng Shui and apply to your yard and garden. If you are interested in learning more, you may want to search for a Feng Shui bagua map and start to learn about the significance of Feng Shui placement. Please note there are several versions of this map and this is a much more advanced Feng Shui topic than what we have covered here.
Feng Shui bagua maps may seem a bit hokey to you at first but if you study the history and origins of bagua maps, you’ll discover a logic that may not be apparent at first so try not to prejudge when you’re first learning about them. Regardless of whether or not you delve deeper into Feng Shui, you can use the basic foundational ancient wisdom of Feng Shui to help you create a yard and garden that will nurture your heart, soul, and mind.