Feng Shui Gardening – Creating a Balanced Landscape: Part I

feng_shuiFeng Shui is an ancient Chinese art form that has been around for over 300 years.  The basic premise of this art form is that balancing the natural, physical and astronomical energies around us can help us live a happier life.  This is achieved by understanding that the environment is alive and full of energy (chi).  Balancing this energy can result in personal harmony.

Before your garden can be designed with harmony, one must make their garden’s energy map.  This map can be known as the feng shui bagua, pakua or bagua.  The design of this map consists of eight areas or trigrams that are then divided into an individual element, color and life area.

A traditional feng shui compass is normally used to create this map but a common outdoor compass will work just as well.  Since one’s home is part of the landscape, the front of the home is a good place to start when discovering the property’s bagua.  To begin the process, take a direction reading while you are standing inside the front door.  Write down this number; repeat this process in two other locations in the home that face the front yard direction.

Once you have these numbers, add these three figures together and divide by three or calculate the average.  This number tells you the beginning trigram of your design.  The trigrams can be broken down into directions.  A compass reading of 337.5 to 22.5 indicates a north direction.  A compass reading of 22.5 to 67.5 indicates a northeast direction, while a 67.5 to 112.5 is an east direction.  A 112.5 to 157.5 is a southeast direction and a 157.5 to 202.5 is a south direction.   A southeast direction is indicated by a 202.5 to 247.5 compass reading and a west direction is a compass reading between 247.5 and 292.5.  A northwest direction is indicated by a 292.5 to 337.5 compass reading.

Once you have all eight directional readings, it is time to make the chart.  The center of the chart will be the home.  The goal of designing a landscape using feng shui principles is to create a balanced environment not only in the home but also around the home.

Begin the chart making process by dividing a circle into eight pie shapes.  Divide each pie shape into three pieces.  At this point, the circle should be divided into 24 sections.  The next step entails labeling the chart.  The first step of this process entails coordinating the chart to the direction of front of your home.  This is easily done by starting from the top of the chart and labeling the direction.  After that is done, label the remaining directions.  The center of your chart is where you want the balanced energy or chi to radiate to and in doing so this can be your home.

Once that is done, it is time to fill in the sections.  The first section in every trigram is labeled the color of the element and is the most important in this type of design.  The next section is labeled the shape of the element and the last is labeled material.

There are five elements in this type of design strategy and each element has it own color association.  The first of these elements is wood and is known to have a rectangular shape with a green or brown color.  The second of these elements is fire.  Fire can be associated with the colors red and strong shades of yellow, orange, purple and pink.  This element is also associated with a triangular shape.  Earth is identified with the shape of a square and the colors of light yellow, sandy earth tones, and bright brown.  The metal element is associated with a round shape and the colors white, and gray.  Water, on the other hand, is associated with anything wavy and the colors blue and black.

Each direction on the chart is associated with a part of your life that will need to be noted on the chart.  North contains the life area of career and path in life.  The northeast direction is associated with the life area of spiritual growth and self-cultivation.  East is coupled with the life area of health and family.  The southeast direction contains the life area that covers money and abundance.  South is linked to the life area of fame and reputation.  The southeast direction covers the life area of love and marriage.  West is connected to the life area that covers creativity and children and the northwest is associated with helpful people, blessings and travel.

Once you have the life areas labeled on the chart, the next step is to label the individual elements associated with the direction.  North is the only direction that is related to the water element.  Northeast and southwest are both associated with the earth element.  East and southeast are connected with the element of wood.  South is the only direction that is associated with the element of fire while the west and northwest are both coupled with the element of metal.

After the chart is completed, the next step is to evaluate the space.  Details for this can be found in part II of Feng Shui Gardening-Creating a Balanced Landscape.

Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.

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