by Joelle Steele

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Feng Shui is immensely popular these days, and those who practice this ancient art believe it can vastly help them to improve their lives by manipulating the flow of life force energy, or "chi" in their homes and offices. But Feng Shui extends well beyond the boundaries of buildings and into the surrounding landscape as well. It isn't enough to apply the principles of Feng Shui indoors, you must also practice them outdoors in your garden.

A home or building surrounded by a beautiful, lush garden is said to bring great fortune to the inhabitants — happiness, prosperity, good relationships, successful careers, and good health and vitality.


Here are a few general tips for putting Feng Shui to work in your landscape:

• Maintain a good balance between light and shaded areas.

• Don't let trees overgrow an area or cover your house with their branches.

• Keep ivies and vines trimmed back and under control, and never let them overtake fences, buildings, statues, patio furniture, etc.

• Select plants and trees that grow upward and do not droop or "weep" like some junipers or willows do.

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• Avoid plants with sharp, pointed needles such as those found on cacti, holly, or bougainvillea, unless you want to use them in certain spots to heighten security.

• Incorporate wavy, curving, meandering edges into your flower beds and pathways instead of straight, regimented, or sharp-cornered lines.

• Soften any harsh, pointed corners of your house with a plant appropriate to that area of the yard.

• Select plants you like that also have a positive influence on the flow of chi — if you don't like chrysanthemums find an alternative to them that fulfills the plant type for that part of your yard.

• Use plants that are native to your area to ensure their healthy growth.

• Remove weak or unhealthy plants immediately.

• Avoid using bonsai or topiary plants.

• Keep your weeds under control.

• Plant enough evergreen plants in your garden to balance out the deciduous plants and keep your garden green in winter.

• Use statues or figures that are full-bodied (not just the heads), and they should have some kind of spiritual or sentimental significance to you so that when you see them, the chi will be enhanced and activated by your feelings.

• Always place statues and decorative ornaments so that they face away from kitchens, septic tanks, toilets, and compost piles.

• Screen off septic tanks, toilets, and compost piles with low fences or lattice, and/or a small hedge, such as one of conifers or boxwoods.

• Keep water features in proportion to the size of your garden — too small symbolizes insufficient prosperity; too large brings overwhelming chi.

• Keep ponds clean and use some fish and snails to help in this.

• Change the water in birdbaths every two days or so.

• Install waterfalls rather than fountains.


In Feng Shui, every part of your yard corresponds to a particular area of your life. For example, the North area of the property symbolizes your career, the Southwest your relationships and marriage. To determine what kinds of plants and other garden design elements to use and where to place them for the best flow of chi, take a compass and determine the exact directions of your landscape. It helps if you sketch out a little map of your house and yard to do this.

NORTH - Career and Life Purpose

In this part of your garden, place anything that is black, possibly a piece of sculpture such as a pair of metal cranes. Other statues can be metal or stone frogs, fish, or turtles. You might also want to install a small pond or water feature here. Just be sure the water is circulating — moving — as in a fountain or waterfall. Red fish in the pond are beneficial, as are big rocks and large trees. Plants in this area should be in small clumps, and some good species include ceanothus and clematis.

NORTHEAST - Knowledge and Meditation

To enhance your spirituality and for self-improvement and growth, use plants that have small leaves and flowers. Euphorbia and Genista are good choices, as are small conifers and herbs. Flowers should be yellow or orange, although pink and red are also acceptable. A clay deer or elephant is good here, as are terra cotta pots, happy Buddha statues, rocks, and crystals. A sitting area is suitable in this part of your yard, preferably on a paved patio rather than a deck. A barbecue or a warming fire pit of some kind are also good, as are big candles and decorative lanterns. Windchimes are good if made of glass or clay. Water features are a temptation for this area, but they are not recommended.

EAST - Family and Health

In this area, plant lots of strong, tall, upward-growing, medium-sized evergreen trees and tall shrubs. This side of the property should have taller trees than those on the West side. Yellow flowers such as chrysanthemums and roses will enhance the chi in this area of your life, as will bamboo (the luckiest plant), hydrangeas, dwarf crab apples, cherry trees, magnolias, and lilacs. A fish pond with waterfalls is good in this area and should run towards the house. Decorate this area with sea shells and wood or ceramic statues of Buddha, deer, cranes, or a green-colored dragon. If you add windchimes here, they should be made of bamboo.

SOUTHEAST - Prosperity and Wealth

To move the chi in this area, use deep green plants with red and purple flowers. Trees are important here, particularly those with round leaves (symbolizing coins/money). One such tree would be the silver dollar Eucalyptus. Another good luck tree for this part of your life is the persimmon. Hebe and bulbs are good. A birdbath, pond, or other water feature is helpful here. Wooden frog and fish sculptures enhance chi here.

SOUTH - Fame and Family

To improve your reputation and bring positive public recognition, add some bright red, purple, orange, and yellow flowers, such as roses, camellias, pieris, red maples, euphorbia, purple sage, peonies, and fuchsias. Leaves that are brightly colored are good for this area. Bamboo is a great choice as it grows very fast, and is thus useful for expanding your fame and reputation. Orange trees are also a good choice for the area. Wooden, preferably red-colored sculptures of flashy birds, such as pheasants, peacocks, or flamingos, are a good addition to this area, as are triangular objects, such as a triangle-shaped flower bed. This is the best part of your landscape in which to have a patio or deck with a fire pit, a barbecue, or other fire-burning device. Good lighting such as large red candles or decorative lanterns and other nice lighting fixtures are also welcome here.

SOUTHWEST - Marriage and Relationships

Add lots of red, pink, and peach-colored flowers to this area to bring a relationship or to improve one, such as your marriage. Orange and yellow flowers may also be used. Helpful plants include orchids, genista, and euphorbia. Peonies can be helpful in this area, but should be removed to the Northeast area when a relationship begins. Some statues of birds, in pairs (or tied together with red ribbon), enhance relationships, as do pairs of heart-shaped flowers, rocks, or sculptures. If you have created a piece of romantic artwork such as a painting or a sculpture, this is a good place to display it, even if only during good weather. This is a good spot for a barbecue or fire pit, and it should be well-lit with nice lanterns, big red candles, or other decorative lighting fixtures. Pebbles, stones, and terra cotta pots are a welcome addition to this area.

WEST - Creativity and Children

Plant flowers with white or gold, fragrant blossoms, such as gardenias, night-blooming jasmine, and viburnum, and plants with silver and gray in the leaves. Convolvulus and spiraea are also good here. Add shiny, metal windchimes and bells, and ceramic or quartz crystals for enhancing the chi.

NORTHWEST - Friends and Helpful People

Plants in this area should be fragrant and have silver or gray leaves and white or blue flowers. Viburnum is a good choice. Add some stone and/or metal sculptures, particularly spiritual ones. Metal windchimes and bells are also beneficial.

This article last updated: 05/23/2013.