How To Create A Garden Hedge Maze

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Garden hedge mazes are the modern day equivalent of the knot gardens found in Renaissance Europe. These hedge mazes were large and complex labyrinths that were intended to be a walking path where the walker would pass each hedge in the maze only once. These mazes were created from a variety of plant and building materials including hedges, herbs, grasses, bricks and paving stones. With a reasonable amount of yard space and some careful planning, it is possible to create a garden hedge maze in your own yard.

Designing a Garden Hedge Maze

A garden hedge maze requires careful planning before construction can begin. The first step in the planning process is to measure the area where the maze will be located. This will give you a basis to determine the type of maze to be built and the shape of the maze.

There are several types of mazes:

  • Unicursal mazes do not have branches or points where a choice of direction must be made. These mazes resemble knot gardens and contain shorter plants.
  • Branching mazes have a tree like structure with a single path that leads to the center or to the end of the maze. Additional paths may branch off this main path, but these paths lead to a dead end.
  • Island mazes have multiple paths that lead to the center. The walls in an island maze are not all connected.

Garden mazes can be designed in a variety of geometric shapes. Many yards may be able to accommodate a small square or rectangular garden maze. Odd shaped areas can be filled with a circular or triangular shaped maze. Once you have decided on where the maze will be placed, its size and its shape, it is time to layout the maze. This involves creating a scale drawing of the maze showing the location of the walls with the spaces between the walls being the path.

Here are a few items to consider when laying out a garden hedge maze:

  • The style or type of maze, its shape and size.
  • The plants that will be used in the maze.
  • Decorative materials to be used in the maze including paving stones, benches and statuary.
  • If grass will be planted inside the maze, make the paths wide enough for a mower to fit through.
  • Leave space in the middle of the maze for a small sitting area where guests can rest or meditate.

Selecting Plants for the Hedge Maze

When selecting plants for a hedge maze, keep the desired height of the hedge in mind. By using plants that will grow taller, people walking through the maze will not be able to see the entire maze and it will be more difficult to find the end of the maze. To make it easier to people to find their way through the maze and to enjoy the scenery outside the maze, consider creating the maze from lower growing shrubs.

If space is a consideration, look for hedge plants that have a narrow and columnar growth habit. One of the traditional plants for a hedge maze is the yew. Other shrubs that work well as hedges include juniper, boxwood, beech, barberry and arborvitae. Here are some more ideas for hedge plants in a garden maze:

  • Ornamental grasses: switchgrass, feather reed grass and eulalia.
  • Tall annuals: corn, sunflowers, marigolds, zinnias, impatiens and geraniums.
  • Herbs: lavender, chamomile, tarragon and rosemary.
  • Flowering shrubs: azalea, glossy abelia, flowering quince, cotoneaster, privet, ligustrum and viburnum.
  • Tropical plants: hibiscus, crotons, heliconia and bird of paradise.

Maintaining the Hedge Maze

Get a hedge maze off to a good start by properly preparing the soil before planting. Instead of digging individual holes for each plant, prepare the entire bed by tilling the soil and amending with compost. This bed is the outline for the walls. By preparing the entire bed area, hedge plants will be better able to establish a root system. Once the plants are in the ground, add a layer of mulch.

A hedge maze requires regular maintenance. Hedges will need pruning to maintain their shape and size. Here are some other maintenance tasks:

  • Plant annuals along borders and next to hedges to add color.
  • Divide and perennials or bulbs that may be growing inside or around the outside of the maze.
  • Keep weeds pulled. Weeds have a tendency to grow between paving stones, in rock pathways and in areas with bare soil.

If you are looking for a creative and unique way to entertain your guests, a garden hedge maze is sure to be a delight. I you love creating puzzles, take the challenge and design a hedge maze to fit your garden.

Last Updated: June 26, 2012
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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