Yards need feng shui as much as rooms do Garden: The ancient Eastern art of placement is said to bring balance to one's home and property.

March 15, 1998|By Ary Bruno | Ary Bruno,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"Mild wind, warm sun, clear water, lush vegetation" -- essential ingredients for a site with good feng shui

-- Professor Lin Yun

The desire of every gardener is to create a beautiful outdoor space and view from every window. But, how would you like to be able to use design in your garden to improve your health, wealth and love life, too? With feng shui, practitioners say you can.

Feng shui is a system of landscape evaluation, building and object placement designed to put us in harmony with the earth and our surroundings -- surely a subject ever more on our minds as the millennium approaches. While relatively new to the West, feng shui is an ancient art, the product of 40 centuries of sustainable agricultural and landscape tradition in China.

By heeding the rules of feng shui and invoking some of its "cures," it is believed that various areas of one's life can be enhanced and invigorated to create a personal paradise.

While feng shui involves many variables, there are certain principles that can be used in any garden of any size, anywhere.

Cleeretta Henderson Smiley, a local feng shui master and holistic teacher, says that the lawns and approaches to a house are of vital importance in creating good site energy -- and that they are badly neglected. She points out that conditions in the lives and relationships of the residents are often visible through these and can be helped or mitigated by using feng shui remedies.

For example, the front lawn is considered yang (male dominated) and the back yard yin (female). According to Smiley, landscape problems or characteristics in the front yard frequently indicate corresponding difficulties with the yang/man element in the house. For this reason, also, the size of front and back yards should also be relatively equal, so that neither the man nor the woman has too much power in the home.

Start with outline

When feng shui practitioners analyze outdoor spaces, they usually start with an outline of the property on paper, showing the position and shape of the house, driveway and any major permanent features such as trees, walls, creeks, as well as adjacent buildings and landscape features.

It is good to use a copy of the original plot plan if possible, advises Smiley, so that you can see the intended design of the property.

The practitioner will usually then overlay an octagonal diagram, called a bagua, on the plan. Each side of the bagua is marked with various aspects of life -- career, knowledge, health/family, wealth, fame/reputation, relationships/ marriage, children/creativity and helpful people/travel.

The diagram is usually oriented to the main entry of the property -- usually the driveway, or the walkway to the front door. Marks are then made on your plot plan to show where each aspect of the bagua falls.

If your yard or garden is divided into well defined "rooms," such as the front and back yards of a town house, each of these can also have the bagua applied to it for fine-tuning.

First, and perhaps most important, is to complete the shape of the house if necessary. This means that if the house does not have a "regular" outline of a square or rectangle, features in the garden should be supplied to symbolically and visually fill in any missing corners or segments to complete the bagua.

In the case of an L-shaped house, for example, part of the bagua shape is "missing" from the design. To remedy this, balance can be restored by placing a tree or a light on a pole aimed at the house, in the place where the corner would be if the house's shape were complete. Hedges may also be used to make the outline whole; evergreens are best because they do not "die" in the winter.

Better sectors

Enhancing the sectors of the bagua in your home or garden is one of the most enjoyable activities to improve your "ch'i" (positive energy), and Joanne Wazny of Essential Feng Shui Practitioners in Columbia notes that it can be powerfully therapeutic and healing in itself. All of the feng shui cures will work to stimulate ch'i in any part of the bagua you choose.

Sympathetic colors can be supplied with flowers. Placing a large rock or stone sculpture in the career area could help you "solidify" your position at work. A water feature in the wealth portion of the garden is considered extremely lucky, especially if you have red fish. And a lovely evergreen in the marriage sector can symbolize your desire for a strong marriage.

Wazny says that the five feng shui elements should balance each other in your garden, so that none is so weak or strong that it disrupts the flow of beneficial ch'i. The five elements are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

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