Feng Shui Garden Ideas For A Serene Outdoor Space

A stone fountain in a peaceful garden
(Image credit: Duangphorn Wiriya)

Do harmony and balance in an environment design bring the occupants peace and prosperity? The answer is yes according to the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui. Using Feng Shui principles means arranging objects and space in your living space in a way that will accomplish these goals.

What is a Feng Shui garden layout? Read on for the basics of creating a Feng Shui landscape.

Feng Shui Garden

Many gardeners find peace and harmony in their outdoor space. But you may be able to increase that serenity and the benefits it brings by using Feng Shui for gardens. While this ancient Chinese art is often associated with indoor spaces, it works for the garden as well.

For thousands of years, Feng Shui has been used in China to facilitate and increase the flow of positive energy into a home. But the flow of energy starts from the outside of a home and travels inward, which means that feng shui landscaping is one of the keys to improving the flow of “chi” energy.

Wind and Water

Feng shui is a Chinese term that translates as “wind and water.” The dual goals of feng shui landscaping are to attract the life force energy - termed chi - into the space and to avoid destructive energy, termed sha.

Feng shui accomplishes these goals by balancing yin/yang forces -- opposing but complementary forces that cannot be separated. You can think of this as balancing male/female energy or light/dark energy. Too much yin energy decreases energy and prosperity, while too much yang is associated with accidents and misfortune. By balancing yin and yang elements, feng shui improves the flow of positive chi and keeps away negative sha.

Feng Shui Landscaping

Feng shui is a method of balancing yin and yang, and improving the flow of chi by arranging items in a house or garden in a beneficial way. Placement of items near entryways or passages is particularly important since these are the ways that energy enters or leaves from a space.

How to change the feng shui in a landscape or garden? The easiest way to change feng shui is to add or transform one of the basic Taoist elements of feng shui:

  • Water
  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal

Rearranging or combining these elements in a garden is said to quickly improve the flow of positive chi.

In a landscape, the five elements are not difficult to identify. Wood can take the form of trees and shrubs. Fire can be an element like an outdoor fireplace or flowers in fiery colors. Water can take the form of moving water features or flowers in cool colors. Metal might be metal lawn chairs or chimes, while earth is obviously soil, but also rocks and pottery.

Feng Shui in Garden Landscaping

If the landscaping is felt to have too much yin energy, this can be resolved and balanced by increasing yang in the space. A garden with too much yang energy is balanced by decreasing yang or increasing yin.

How exactly might this work? As an example, you can decrease yin and increase yang by planting trees or foliage plants, growing a garden, or cutting back trees to allow in more sunshine. To decrease yang and increase yin, you can bring in a water feature or plant a lush lawn.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.