Taking Feng Shui Outdoors

Bringing more calm and beauty into our outdoor spaces
November 11, 2018 Updated: November 11, 2018

I used to live in a house that was a block away from a major highway.

While I loved the house, gardening there was a challenge. In some parts of the backyard, the plants were always thirsty and dry no matter how much water they got, and other spots were boggy and failed to drain well.

The soil was like concrete no matter how much mulch I added. Each year, I found myself replacing plants in the same parts of the garden, and in other sections pulling out plants that had grown out of control. I’ve had gardens before, but this particular piece of land tested me.

Looking back after having moved away from that house, I believe that this particular piece of land just had funky energy or Qi. I now live in a place that’s tucked into the woods, on the edge of a small creek, and the land just feels happier. We see a lot of wildlife, plants grow effortlessly in the garden, and I enjoy watching the seasons change from my back deck. On this piece of land, I understand the healing properties of nature.

In Chinese medicine, there are many roads to healing, from acupuncture to herbs to food therapy. However, a lesser-known discipline of Chinese medicine is something called geomancy.

In the simplest of terms, geomancy is a way of accessing knowledge and ultimately healing, through connecting to the energy of the earth.

In its earliest form, geomancy was used to study the patterns of the earth as a way to determine the best spot to place buildings. Geomancy may sound a lot like feng shui and for good reason. However, feng shui, which is the practice of changing your environment to enhance its energy, is a subset of geomancy. Feng shui, divination, and astrology all come under the umbrella of geomancy.

Through the principles of feng shui, you can change almost any space into one that feels better. A good example of simple feng shui is when you walk into a place that’s incredibly cluttered. It feels chaotic and stressful. However, cleaning up the clutter to create a little white space makes that same place feel more relaxing and inviting.

When it comes to outdoor spaces, it’s possible to make changes to alter the energy of a challenging area. You can turn a spot that doesn’t feel very inviting into one that’s relaxing and balanced. Here are some suggestions:

Clean up the clutter. As mentioned above, clutter is stressful and hurts your eyes. Put away empty flower pots, broken hoses, and tools or toys that you’re not currently using. It’s amazing how different a space can feel just by getting rid of visual chaos.

Add water. A fountain or waterfall adds a sense of flow, soothing sounds, and generates negative ions. Negative ions clear the air by attaching to allergens, pollutants, and other positively charged particles in the atmosphere.

Bring in the birds. A bird feeder will attract feathered visitors that add interest and birdsong to your outdoor space. Also, think about adding a birdbath. It’ll not only attract birds, but will also add a water feature to your space. To generate negative ions, make sure the water is kept fresh or flowing.

Get a wind chime, but make sure you like its sound. Wind chimes are uplifting and add positive energy to your space.

Include plants in your outdoor area. Whether in a garden or in pots on your deck, plants add a positive presence to your space and put you in touch with the wood element. Flowering plants add an additional dimension of color and beauty and attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

Think about planting some easy to grow edibles. Again, this can be in the ground or in pots. Being able to eat baby lettuce, herbs, or even strawberries that were grown out your back door physically connects you to your space and the earth.

Even though you may not hang out there in the winter, your outdoor space can still be energizing and appealing to look at.

Planting evergreens, which come in all shapes and sizes keep your space alive year round. Feeders keep the birds coming throughout the winter, adding interest, activity, and energy to your yard. Pine boughs, wreaths, and decorations made from native plants and trees are also ways to keep you connected to your outdoor space all winter long.

Did feng shui enhance the energy of the land at my old house? The answer was yes. We worked hard to make a number of changes, and they actually improved the feel of our yard. We reworked the outdoor walkway, installed stone patios, planted large flower pots, fed the birds, grew a small vegetable garden, and hung our favorite wind chimes.

Ultimately, it was a lovely place to sit and relax and have an outdoor meal. However, proximity to the highway, the poor soil, and the depleted Qi of the land challenged us to create a harmonious outdoor space.

Lynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of “Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health.” This article was originally published on AcupunctureTwinCities.com