The amount of Qi available inside a house is dependent on the Qi in the landscape. As soon as the foundation of a building is set and the walls and roof are finished, about three quarters of the Qi is locked out. Applying specific Feng Shui principles concerning the design and placement of doors and windows allows us to maximize the transition of energy from the outside to the inside.
Ideally, considerations for the garden have been incorporated into the planning of the house. Strengthening the Ming Tang ("great hall") in front of the house helps to anchor the energy outside, as well as inside the house. Bay windows, window banks and french doors frame the garden from the eye of the inhabitants.
The shape of the garden:
As with any house or building, a regular square or rectangular shape is best to work with. Triangular or trapezoid forms narrow the energy flow down or prevent the Qi from flowing freely into the garden as through a bottle neck. The purpose of sidewalks and pathways is to moderately lead the Qi through the garden and into the house.
Borders define a property. These are a matter of personal preference, taking into account existing roads, stone walls and other neighboring influences. Naturally occurring boundaries such as riverbanks and treelines make the strongest impression. If no natural boundaries occur a fence assists in defining one's space.
The Four Animals in the garden:
Traditional Feng Shui compares the characteristics of the landscape with the analogy of four animals: the Tortoise from behind energetically supports the back. It is best represented by a slightly higher terrain in the back or through a general slope towards the front. It can be enhanced by trees and bushes which create a symbolic wall of protection. In the northern areas evergreen trees create year round support while deciduous trees lack a supportive effect during winter months.
On the left side of the building (looking out through the front door) the Dragon represents the yang qualities, the active energies. The Dragon is strongest when represented by a medium sized line of bushes or fence, the size being relative to the size of the house and property.
On the right the Tiger represents the yin side, the strong but dormant energy, silent and protective. The size of objects representing the tiger should be a bit lower than those of the Dragon - the tiger should "sleep".
In the front of the house the Phoenix stands for the free, open space. The landscaping should be kept low to allow the Phoenix to fly freely.
Dowsing the garden:
Besides the planting of particular flowers, bushes and trees in high or low light areas or planting with respect to compatibility, most plants do not grow well in geopathic stress zones ("geo"- from the earth, "pathology"- study of sickness). Readers from former issues know that geopathic patterns occur in areas or on grid lines with harmful, draining earth energies. By using dowsing instruments we can determine where and of which intensity those energy zones are. Trees grown on geopathic stress areas develop numerous abnormalities such as split trunks and knobby growths. Rows of bushes often show a gap at the crossing of earth grid lines.
Ants are typically showing up at geopathic energies. They use these grids for orientation and build their hills along the lines. Therefore problems with ants cannot easily be dissolved without taking care of the grids themselves. In Europe, the awareness for reading these signs has been developed over centuries. In Bavaria an old custom recommends placing an ant hill on the spot where a house is planned, particularly the bedroom. If the ants move in you'd better move out!
As nature has a use for everything, a compost heap works ideally in a geopathic area taking full advantage of the disintegrative powers of nature. Underground watercourses, which we also dowse, should be taken into into consideration when choosing plants. Although most plants will perish when planted over these areas, some plants such as Weeping Willows and Oak trees thrive when planted over underground water.
Here are a few Feng Shui tips to consider when planning your garden:
- Use natural materials for the garden: flat stones and bricks for pathways instead of asphalt, wood for fences instead of plastic, terracotta and clay for pots instead of concrete or composites.
- Pathways should meander naturally. Avoid straight walkways, especially towards the house, as the Qi is accelerated too quickly.
- When planting trees, be aware of their potential growth. Don't set them too close to the building as they might overwhelm the house in future years. A tree overshadowing a house takes away light - a major source of Qi, fills up the gutters with debris and hastens the wear on the roof.
- Keep bushes small enough as to not cover the entrance or the windows. Hidden or blocked entrances inhibit the Qi and weaken the house.
- Create a Ming Tang ("bright pallace") in front of the house in form of a round arrangement of flowers, plants or a stonepattern. Water e.g. in form of a small pond is often used to enhance this effect. Be aware that water has a strong impact. The size and distance of a water feature has to be chosen carefully in relation to the house.
- Plants also create Qi. Choose rounded forms and colourful patterns. Avoid abrupt changes and jagged shapes.
- Dead trees must be removed together with the roots.
- Compost containers and garbage bins should be housed discreetly in a shed. Do not keep them in front of the house as they attract unpleasent energies.
- Birdfeeders and birdbaths increase good Qi by attracting wild life and natural energy.
- Low bridges as often seen in Chinese or Japanese gardens are enchanting and create harmony between the elements. (Note: a western style garden bridge will look more appropriate in New England garden).