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by Lydia Pawelak / published in l'EMERAUDE

A good Feng Shui garden is a combination of science and art. The placement of various elements in your garden can increase or decrease the flow of energy, and this energy has an impact on the chi (or life force) that enters your house.

Your garden represents the health and vitality of the people living in the house: if the garden is unwell, the family may have health problems, too. Where you create an abundance of positive energy, the family will prosper.

Everyone starts to build a house with a plan, but ironically, few people consider planning a garden, even though the garden is an extension of the house. Even most modern landscape designers don't take advantage of the flow of energy present in any garden, and this can make their creations look lifeless and unnatural -- either too active or too passive.

A good Feng Shui garden is in harmony with nature, and it is created to fulfill a chosen function. The basic Feng Shui principles discussed here can be applied in all cultures and every type of garden, whether creating a romantic garden, family garden, flower/vegetable garden, water garden (with a pond, fountain or stream), or a Chinese, French or English garden. These guidelines can be used with all sizes of gardens, from a small balcony garden to an estate garden, from a home garden to a park.

One of the most important principles is to balance the passive yin and active yang energies. When a garden is too yin, it lacks vital energy and will feel static. You must connect yin and yang in a garden through rocks, paths, plants or water movement. Each of the 5 elements (water, wood, fire, earth, metal) corresponds to a specific sector in a garden, and combining the proper elements by using them (or their color and shape) will have a major impact on your well-being.

You might have wondered why in any given family one member seems to be vital and prosperous while another member living in the same house is always ill and cannot hold a job. In Feng Shui, each member of the family is represented by a trigram, and this trigram is located in a specific part of the house and garden. By checking these trigrams we sometimes can find a dead tree, unhealthy plants or garbage in the area corresponding with the unhealthy family member; by adjusting the Feng Shui we can help to increase prosperity and vitality for a specific member of the family.

Different plants have different sensitivities, various types of rocks have distinct characters, and the energy they radiate will shape the chi of a garden. All plants have different reactions to what is called geopathic stress -- a natural emanation of energy that radiates from the earth and is distorted by subterranean streams, fault lines and underground cavities. These rerouted waves of energy can become harmful to living organisms, and some plants seek to avoid geopathic stress -- but others actually benefit from it.

Using dowsing methods a Feng Shui expert can design a garden accordingly to avoid choosing plants that will fare poorly, and trees that will grow crooked or become prone to disease (mushrooms on trunk, etc.) in that particular garden.

Adding "dry water" in the form of a zen garden (a garden with rock "islands" and sand arranged around them in wave-like patterns), or actual water using a pond or fountain can greatly increase the positive chi flow in a garden.

A Feng Shui expert will use different formulas to calculate the most beneficial placement as well as the ideal direction of water flow. Done correctly, this addition to your garden will help to attract wealth for the entire household.

Locating and activating the heart of your garden will give the impression that trees, plants and flowers are communicating with each other, and creating a balanced, welcoming oasis for you and your loved ones.

Practical tips:

- Do not plant a tree in the front of a house, a tree placed facing your front door could create heart, liver, or mouth problems. And since the windows of a house represent the eyes, a tree blocking your front windows could have a negative impact on your vision, and on another level make it difficult for you to "see" future plans clearly.

- A water garden in front of the house with the water direction flowing towards the main door is ideal. However, if a water garden is not possible, planting multi-colored flowers will greatly increase the positive energy entering your house.

- It is generally not healthy for the house exterior to have plants like ivy clinging to it, as it can compromise the structure over time. In Feng Shui, the exterior walls of a house are said to represent the skin of the people living within; if plants grow on the walls of a house, this could cause skin problems for the occupants.

- Every garden should have some evergreens, this will stimulate the positive chi flow in a garden during the winter.

- It is best to situate a greenhouse in front of the house or on the side; avoid putting a greenhouse centered in the back of the house, as this could disrupt the energy flow and cause back problems and loss of money.

- If you install a fountain or a small stream, always have the water running towards your house. - Do not water your plants always at the same time; they will become too dependent on your intervention. - Ideally, a house should have protection in the back, in the form of trees, rocks, bushes, a fence, or a wall.

- Avoid straight or pointing garden paths; a gently roaming path will create the most harmonious energy. The same is true of plant/flower beds: never go for anything too straight for too long. The shape of the plant bed can be done in undulating forms, or in more of a circle so that a grassy or patio area is inside the circle. Take pictures in nature when you see a nice layout, and try to recreate it in your own garden.

- To encourage the flow of positive energy, avoid creating a one-level garden: include different levels and layers.

- Avoid spiky plants near the entrance and pathways, these are plants that protect themselves against their environment by presenting their "spears" to anyone that comes near.

- Garbage cans & recycling bins should be covered and kept out of sight since they emit negative energy.

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