Gardening Basics For Dummies
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Feng Shui, which is a Chinese design philosophy, means literally wind and water. In traditional Chinese beliefs, wind and water are the source of all life energy. This life energy, called chi, brings abundance and blessings into your environment and your life. So when you're designing according to the principles of Feng Shui, you're really encouraging the chi to flow into and throughout your space (not to mention your life).

The modern approach to Feng Shui used in this article is called Black Hat sect, and it combines traditional Feng Shui beliefs with Western approaches. While Eastern concepts, such as intuition, play a primary role, Western concepts, such as practicality, aren't overlooked.

Before you can get started on Feng Shui gardening, you need to understand a few basic principles about the philosophy behind Feng Shui. By following some guidelines, you can plan a garden that not only feels friendly and welcoming, but that actually brings abundance into your life.

Grooving with chi and other Feng Shui principles

Feng Shui, the art of perfect placement, is about allowing life energy (chi) to move through your environment to bring harmony and balance. This good energy brings good stuff into your life.

To find perfect placement and encourage good chi flow, you need to use various Feng Shui principles, which are discussed in the following subsections.

Raising the chi

The main goal in Feng Shui gardening is to raise the level of chi in the garden and make sure that it moves smoothly and freely throughout the space. In other words, you have to get rid of barriers to chi, and you need to use Feng Shui fixes (called cures) to raise the chi in areas where it may get trapped and stagnate.

You can also use cures to solve the problems that arise when chi moves too quickly through your garden. Chi moving too quickly doesn't do you (or your garden) any good, and can actually help create an unpleasant environment that's agitated instead of relaxed.

Applying the Bagua

The Bagua is your Feng Shui placement map and symbolizes how your environment is connected to your life. The Bagua, which is shaped like an octagon, has nine Life Sectors that correspond with aspects of your own life as shown in Figure 1.

The nine Life Sectors of the Bagua are

  • Career
  • Knowledge
  • Family
  • Wealth
  • Fame
  • Relationships
  • Children
  • Helpful People
  • T'ai Chi (overall health and well-being)

Figure 1: The Bagua is your garden's roadmap.

These nine Life Sectors have a physical location in your garden and a symbolic location in your life. All the Life Sectors should be present in your garden. If your garden is oddly shaped, one of the sectors may be "missing," which means that the corresponding area in your life will have problems. So if your oddly shaped garden is missing the Wealth sector, or what would be your Wealth sector is actually in the neighbor's backyard, you may find yourself losing money or just having "bad luck" — things don't go your way.

According to Feng Shui principles, enhancing the chi in a Life Sector in your garden increases abundance in that area of your life. So if you need a little more love in your life, make sure the Relationships sector gets the attention it needs.

Incorporating the Five Elements

The Five Elements (those qualities that make up everything in the world — Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire) must all be present and in balance in a Feng Shui garden. The universe is made up of these elements working together, and you want to reflect that in your garden. The elements work together to create a harmonious, welcoming space. How the elements work together is called the nourishing cycle of the elements.

You have to careful that you put the right elements together because the elements can sometimes cancel each other out. This aspect is called the controlling cycle of the elements. For example, too much Water element can "put out" the Fire element, which leads to unbalance in the garden.

Balancing yin and yang energy

Yin-yang is the idea that life energy can have a passive and an active side. Yin-yang is based on a concept of the universe as containing complementary opposites — qualities that seem to be in contrast to each other but that actually work together. For example, soft and hard or light and dark are qualities that complement each other.

You need to keep passive and active energy (yin/yang) in balance, so that your garden doesn't make people frantic or put them to sleep.

Knowing the benefits of Feng Shui

Feng Shui isn't mystical mumbo-jumbo, but you still may not believe in it. However, the beauty of Feng Shui is that you can apply it and benefit from it, even if you're a bit skeptical.

For instance, if you're not sure raising the chi in your environment can mean a corresponding improvement in your life, at least you'll agree that keeping the clutter down makes your garden more attractive. And paying attention to aesthetics, function, and design as you plan your garden makes your space more appealing and welcoming.

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