How to turn your back yard into a retreat | March 21, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

- March 21, 2008

How to turn your back yard into a retreat

Create a balanced atmosphere to soothe your soul

It is easy to know when you are out of your element. Intuition often tells us when our surroundings are out of place. With feng shui, the classic Chinese art of placement, a harmonious environment can bring balance to your life.

Turning a muddled back yard into a gentle haven is not only pleasing to the eye but soothing to the soul.

"Successful design incorporates the essential objectives of feng shui," recounts Karen Nowak, Academic Director of Interior Design at California Design College.

The ultimate goal of feng shui applied to the garden is to create an atmosphere that balances. You don't want a space that feels too frenzied or too lackluster. Curves in pathways encourage wandering and thoughtful reflection.

Open gates are welcoming to both guests and their energy. Populate your garden with colors that increase energy like reds, oranges and yellows or calming colors like violet or blue. And remove disorder. Nothing causes agitation more than an untidy environment.

It is important to represent the five elements when working with feng shui: water, wood, fire, earth and metal. Some of these lend themselves to the garden with ease. Dirt, clay containers and rocks denote the earth element. Trellis, benches and trees are suitable for the wood element.

Bring water into your garden by adding a pond, fountain or bird bath. Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits or lanterns represent fire. And metal sculptures, sundials or wind chimes signify metal.

Perhaps you want to draw wealth into your life. Planting fruit trees in the southeast area of your garden will encourage the money tree to be fruitful as well. Situating your back yard fire pit in the south promotes fame.

"All areas of life have harmonizing opposites. Your home and garden should pair spatial and design opposites to bring an equalized foundation," advises Nowak. Bring light to shady areas of the yard and balance entryways with plants or trees on each side.

It may not be easy to remove the clutter and stress from inside ourselves. Designing with feng shui principles is an easy way to provide that retreat and comfort that all back yard gardens can provide.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Feng shui gardening Q&A

I have a patch of weeds in my garden that look very pretty. I am tempted to keep them, but will they affect the chi in a negative way?

Absolutely not. If you like them, keep them. Weeds are a part of life and have a valuable part to play. Just do not let them grow out of control in your garden.

Our yard is always full of cats, and wasps in the summer. Why?

Cats and wasps are attracted to negative energy. Look for trees that are crooked or covered with ivy. Check walls for cracks or loose masonry. Check the grass for moss patches. If you find any of these defects, call a feng shui consultant. Or deal with it yourself by removing clutter and space clearing.

My wife likes the idea of a cottage garden, with a mass of rambling flowers and herbs. I would like something more formal. What do you suggest?

You could have a good structure, with some rambling plants within that order. The combination of expansion and structure is very powerful and beneficial (a mixture of Yin and Yang).

"Feng Shui in 10 Simple Lessons" by Jane Butler-Biggs