Elemental Guide to Exterior Design

Guidelines for exterior design based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui, according to Bridget Skinner, a certified feng shui practitioner based in Newport Beach:

* Exterior maintenance of a house speaks to the well-being of the house and its inhabitants. Remove or replace dead vegetation. Trim or remove overgrown vegetation blocking pathways, doors, windows. Make sure paths, stairs and banisters are in good repair. Remove all clutter.

* Invite nature into the garden via bird baths, feeders and plants that attract birds and butterflies.

* Use curved, meandering paths where appropriate. Soften edges of straight pathways with strategically placed pots or plants.


* Assure privacy around the sides and back of property by adding fences, berms or plants.

* Create a beautiful view from every window and doorway in your home.

* Bring the five elements--wood, fire, earth, water, metal--into the garden with plants, hardscape and garden accessories.

* Create complete design harmony by unifying landscape design with the architecture of the house. Don’t plant a Mediterranean garden with a Cape Cod house.

* Add a water feature to the front yard. Place it with the water flowing toward the house.

* Create a figurative line between heaven and earth by providing an overhead plane through tree canopies or covered patios.

* Create an environment that suits your needs and invites you to use the space easily and regularly.