By Kathy Van Mullekom
(Newport News, Va.) Daily Press

Is your garden calling out to you to do something and you are not sure what to do first?

Feng shui practitioner Bonnie Primm of Norfolk, Va., has some simple solutions.

“We all need to start with what we have and some idea of what we want because time and money and the largest piece – energy – will always prevail,” she said.

Here are some everyday garden feng shui tips from Primm that can be your guide:

1. Begin with balance. Balancing your planting scheme begins with the back of the planting area where you plant higher (yang) than the next layer and again with the third layer in front until you reach three tiers descending in height to lowest (yin) – 3 is a magic number for balance in feng shui. This concept applies when you use property lines as the visual focus; if you plant in spaces away from the property lines, the tallest plants will be in the center – but not too tall or you risk good proportion. Vegetable gardens are done the same way. Mix even more – high/low, open/tight and light/dark within the planting.

2. Incorporate texture. There is also yin and yang in texture. Use open, longer stems, such as Shasta daisies that create motion when the wind caresses them. Descend your plantings with seasonal flowers or perennials where the flower heads are more condensed with each layer until you reach rounder, close-flowering plants that group together.

Rocks, garden sculptures, patios, benches, pergolas, gazebos and swings all add visual interest and find their balance within the softness of plants and flowers.

“We love gardens because we find the balance we want to feel within ourselves in the creations of our outdoor spaces and gardens,” Primm said. “The ‘hard’ sculptures are yang to the flowers’ yin.”

3. Mindfully use color. If you have ample room for your gardens, consider either themes of brilliant color or mixes of color. Multicolor plants “fill in” space as you look at them because all the colors radiate a vibration and take up more visual space (yang). If you have little room for plants, consider softer color flowers and plants (yin) – such as shades of whites and greens. A yin garden is ideal for meditation.

Colors such as red (yang) give off the great vibrations, followed by yellows and oranges and even whites. Blues and purples and softer colors such as peach, pale yellow and mauve are more yin and “quiet.”

4. Work with topography. The rise and fall of land itself is yin (low) and yang (high). To keep your home from looking like it was dropped on a piece of land, add berms – soil stacked to a soft or hard tier or terrace – so the space is broken and the eye rests somewhere. Subtracting soil offers the same effect. Bring in large rocks and group them together to offer a feeling of safety and stability – especially if you live on a corner property – to the home and gardens.

“Remember round and low is yin and high and straight is yang,” Primm said. “Finding balance in your garden creates balance in your life.”

5. Plan for proportion. You’ve probably seen too many shrubs and trees on too little land and just the opposite – too much land and too few plantings. A good rule of thumb is the old rule of three – keep the house to one-third, if you can, and the property to two-thirds.

“This is not always possible, so then you must artfully plant trees that will not dwarf the home in five to 10 years or look too small for the life of the house,” Primm said.

“Another rule of thumb is to plant small/open/multi trunk trees like birches and Japanese maples within 15 to 20 feet of the front of the home and never directly in front of the door. In the feng shui world, this translates to keeping good energy from coming in and blocking our view of the world.”

Also, shrubbery planted close to the house should only reach the base of the window frame – never going beyond and obliterating the view inside or outside.

In the world of feng shui, you take away good energy coming in from the outside and stifling the energy inside.

6. To curve or not curve. Curves slow your steps and eyes (yin) while straight lines speed your energy (yang), causing you to look beyond instead of enjoying where you are. Small spaces need straight lines because curves take up more room and could be difficult to navigate (never good feng shui). If you have a large property for gardening, think curves – curving/rounded plant/flower/shrubbery groups. Curving, rounded plants (yin) also soften the geometric angles (yang) of your home.

7. “Lastly, but importantly, think about the care plants need and choose wisely,” Primm said.

“You just may have something that calms the soul more than it adds to the work. The balance of what you get for what you give must be even or you may start resenting your beautiful space or missing out on some fun.”

Learn more about feng shui in the garden at