Garden feng shui and a new garden path

february-14-2009-41While I’m not necessarily a practitioner of feng shui, I do recognize good qi and bad qi (a.k.a chi or energy) when I see/feel it. I don’t need a Bagua* to know when good qi has gone bad.

After 11 years of recognizing the need for substantial steps in my mixed border, I finally had them installed. Money needed to meet need before it could happen as well. When we first bought the home, my gardening budget went to building borders, paths and plants.

Up to now, the path was made up of puny stepping stones that served no purpose other than to direct traffic from the house to the upper gardens. Now the steps also serve as a work of art, a rock garden AND to direct traffic from the house to the upper gardens.

For what I wanted, there was no other person to do the project than Phil Hathcock of Natural Stone Sculptures, in Cary, NC. He knows how to work with the land to make it look natural – as if the stones were a naturally occurring outcropping in my hill.  As an added bonus, all the stone was unearthed from Phil’s property.  new-mixed-borders-steps-2

According to the principles of feng shui, the best place to sight your home is believed to be near the dragon’s lair. No doubt I have had some critter issues in the past, but I can say without hesitation, I have never had a problem with dragons. And yet, I could have also said that before a deer showed up for dinner last summer. So, never say never.

The best location is to be near, but not too near, the dragon’s lair. Where can one find a dragon’s lair? Well, it is generally halfway between the top of the hill and the valley. Specifically, with the back of the house cradled by the hill. As luck would have it, that is exactly how my house is placed in the garden.

My house is smack dab in the middle of our lot, with the back gardens rising and the front gardens sloping down towards valley – in this case the road. Phil’s interpretation for why this was the best location, confirmed feng shui principles, again, without the need for a Bauga.

february-24-2009-0261His input was this, “The best gardens are when you can see the land out the back going up. This way, gardens can be made to view from the inside or outside the door. If the gardens in the back sloped down, you would not necessarily see the garden. The garden sloping downward in the front is also best because the best view is meant to be seen from the street and a hill maximizes this view.” Phil went on to say that, like all good feng shui, there are ways to get around bad land or energy.

We used plants that I had on hand; mainly from the porchscape of conifers in containers.  Some of these will work in the short term to make it appealing, at the same time, stabilizing the dirt.

Ta da!


I keep taking photos of it.  Very much like when my kids were babies.  I guess this is my new baby.  Let’s hope we don’t peak the interest of the dragon.

*Bagua is an eight-sided picture or object that contains a trigram in each of its eight sides with an image of the yin/yang symbol in the center. Each trigram corresponds to a particular compass direction and aspiration area.



  1. Grumpy Gardener said

    Great path and steps! You did it right.

  2. Thanks Steve!

  3. joey said

    Stunning, you must be thrilled! We have been in our home over 33 yrs. and this reminds me of my stone path (needs re-setting for safety) on the hill, flanked by rock gardens on both sides. Although I doubt the old 70 year old house/gardens were built according to the principles of feng shui, it has a good feel and everyone that has every lived here has beloved feelings for both home/garden. Thanks for sharing this wonderful project.

  4. Hey Joey, I believe you can feel it. When it’s right, it’s right.

  5. Les said

    Nice job, now you need some of those “steppables” that are being promoted. May all your qi be good qi.

  6. That was weird, Les. I was reading your blog and I came back to mine and saw your message! Must be good qi!

  7. tina said

    It’s truly a work of art. Looks great.

  8. LOVE IT! LOVE IT! I have tons of flagstone garden paths and am totally addicted!

    Also addicted to anything made with rocks. Why? I have no idea – my husband says I have rocks in my head. I’m sure he’s right!

    Great job!

  9. […] If the gardens in the back sloped down, you would not necessarily see the garden . The garden sloping downward in the front is also best because the best view is meant to be seen from the street and a hill maximizes this view. .. Read more: Garden feng shui and a new garden path « Gardening With Confidence ™ […]

  10. Susan AH said

    Very pretty. After a season when the plants grow in around it, I’m sure you’ll keep wanting to take pictures of it.
    I never realized it until now, but my house is in the dragon’s lair. I long for flat garden beds, but I have to admit that I love looking out my kitchen window to the back yard that slopes up and away.

  11. TC said

    Love it! But I have a suggestion. The rather bright garden bench didn’t sit very well with my eyes. It almost looks too formal. Might a more rustic look be in order? Or perhaps a different color of paint? Regardless, the new steps are stunning.

  12. I love the stone steps!

    Watching Fishel on the weather — we can’t get 6-9″ of snow on Sunday/Monday! Please, no! I remember the March 1, 1980 blizzard too well because I had a day old Arabian filly and a two week old colt in the barn. It was a deep, cold, blustery snow.

  13. Dave said

    It looks great! The plantings and the rocks definitely have a nice balance.

    I’m sure my wife will be thrilled, you’re giving me ideas. 😉

  14. Suzanne Edney said

    Phil is indeed the best around. He worked wonders with the dragon’s lair. I liked the bench. When you repaint perhaps a Chinese Red. If that corresponds with the bagua directional colors. I also have an observaton about the background in the photo of Phil. The wooden fence seems to be running on a diagonal (down to the right). If there is some way to camouflage the fence it would make a better distant backdrop. You probably already have plants in place that will do the job in time. In the mean time maybe it could be staineda dark neutral color. Thanks so much for sharing Phil’s work and your garden fantastic.

  15. Hey Suzanne,

    Yes, the fence area to the right has been addressed. I took out a giant ligustrum. Not sure what took me so long, but I finally did so this past fall. This garden is called Woodland Garden Too. The Leyland hedge will continue down and there are winter red hollies, camellias, multiludes of hellebores, jack in the pulpits, Rhodea, and native azalea. It will take a couple of years to reveal itself fully. As for the red bench…I DO like red, but as I told Phil, my style is European not Asian.

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