Feng Shui Brings Harmony to a Colorado Garden
A design-oriented homeowner knew just who to ask to create a relaxing Rocky Mountain paradise. Steal the look (and the luck) for your own garden
When founding publisher of Luxe Interiors + Design Magazine, Dana Meacham, moved into her Castle Pines, Colorado, home, she knew cookie-cutter design wouldn’t cut it. With an eye toward the natural beauty of her home’s surroundings and an interest in Eastern philosophies, Meacham opted for a feng shui garden for her outdoor spaces, hiring Denver-based landscape design firm Lifescape Colorado.
Also known as Chinese geomancy, the principles of feng shui seek to harmonize a person with their environment—both in the home and the garden—using the eight cardinal directions as the framework. In a feng shui garden, each section of one’s yard corresponds to one of the directions and adding the right elements are thought to bring luck and harmony; for example, add a water feature to the northern section of the garden to bring wealth, and plant trees in the eastern portion of your garden to strengthen your family relationships.
Despite size and location—a modest lot in a dense suburban neighborhood—the landscape design for this Colorado home provides a peaceful and sophisticated retreat where the homeowners can immerse themselves in nature.
The feng shui garden design is a departure from adjacent properties and required careful review from the Homeowners Association before moving forward. It did, however, earn the (enthusiastic) support of the review board, and has since inspired several projects in the immediate community.
As conceived by Lifescape Senior Designer Joshua Ruppert, the landscape prioritizes drought-tolerant material, native plants, perennials, and tall grasses that move and respond to the wind. A recessed basement window is lined with serviceberry trees to create a feeling of coziness and privacy without blocking the view. Strategically placed river birch (Betula nigra) trees provide screening and define the space. And a restrained palette of ornamentals—white fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium), salvia, bee blossom (Gaura lindheimerii ‘Whirling Butterflies’), gaillardia, and leadwort (Plumbago)—adds color and softness to the overall design.
Corten steel wraps through the landscape of sculpture, native grasses, and a large basalt plinth water feature. The metal is popping up in lots of Western landscaping lately, marrying hard industrial edges with the terracotta earthiness of rust.
Rather than hardscape, the garden designers created pathways of delicate gravels and small pebbles that can be walked on barefoot. Not only do these make a soothing sound when trod upon, but they’re also pervious—this means that rainwater can slowly percolate through the paths and into the soil beneath, instead of just running off into gutters. (Here are some our favorite ideas for relaxing paths.)
A sunken patio with firepit and seating areas provides a place for relaxation and gatherings without interrupting views of plant life and surrounding peaks from within the home—and on chilly Colorado evenings, it gets plenty of use. Check out some other ideas for backyard fire pits.
Feng Shui Principles in Your Own Landscape
A connection to nature was maximized to create a suburban refuge rooted in the principles of a feng shui garden. Here are some of the other concepts that you can use in your own garden—just approach your space with an eye toward the geographic orientation of your yard. Does it actually work? Who knows—but a feng shui garden design is certainly beautiful enough to bring harmony to your landscape.
Colors: Black, purple, blue
Garden element: Rocks and boulders (like the basalt water feature in the photo above)
Energy: Personal and spiritual growth
Colors: Pink, yellow/ochre, earth tones
Garden element: Zen features like raked gravel or statuary
Energy: Family, longevity, and health
Garden element: Trees (like the river birch pictured above), wooden ornaments
Energy: Wealth, abundance, prosperity
Colors: Green, blue, purple, red, gold (the last three being colors of royalty)
Garden element: Any growing thing, but especially red or purple flowers
Energy: Fame, accolades, success
Garden element: Fire pits, outdoor lighting (like torches), or barbecues
Energy: Love and romance, peace, relationships
Colors: Beige, white, pink
Garden element: Outdoor dining area (like the table and chairs above the fire pit in the photo above)
Energy: Children, the future, joy, creativity
Colors: Metallic tones of copper and silvery gray, plus white
Garden element: Metal wind chimes, or corten steel boxes (like those pictured above)
Energy: Travel, helpful friends
Colors: Black, gray, white
Garden element: Paths to promote travel; seating areas for friendly chats (both pictured above)
Keep the elements in mind and a compass in hand, and your feng shui garden could bring you a long, lucky life!