by Valerie Demetros
A backyard labyrinth garden, or even a maze, is not as eccentric as it sounds. They are not just for ancient castles in Europe.
A modest labyrinth can be a pretty way to decorate a garden space. If you have more space, you can make a true maze puzzle to solve.
Either form brings something magical and captivating to a landscape design, but there is a distinctive difference.
For a labyrinth, you construct a continuous path that twists and turns until it reaches the center of a circle, square or a shape of your choice.
Maze gardens are more of a puzzle and contain branching paths. There is only one true route to the center with several wrong turns and dead ends. But mazes can also function as places for contemplation or to interact with nature.
A classic maze or labyrinth garden is made of hedges.
A maze in particular will have hedges that are usually tall enough that you can’t see the solution to the puzzle or the path ahead. In many farms in the fall, cutting a maze in cornfields is popular.
Hedge mazes can be scaled down to fit most yards. For a practical one you’ll need at least 30 feet across to work with. The maze shouldn’t dominate the yard, so if you can try to build it toward the end of the yard.
If high maze hedges won’t work, shorter hedges work just fine. You can even create a small maze or labyrinth with bricks or pavers, achievable in the tiniest of yards.
Determine the size you want your maze to be and then sketch the design on paper or with design software to get the correct dimensions.
If you want a traditional looking maze, level the ground flat before planting. Usually, hedges typically take three years to fill out. If you’re in a hurry, try planting shrubs closer together.
Be sure to prune your plants into the desired shape immediately and be aware that a hedge maze requires maintenance.
As the plants mature and grow, you may need to prune more often, depending on how crisp and manicured you want it to look. Count on continuing to prune the hedges at least once a year.
If you’re more interested in a labyrinth style, you might want to consider a labyrinth using pavers in different colors, pavers and turf, or for a beautiful alternative, mark the path with wildflowers and pavers.
It may take time for them to grow, but it will be worth the wait.
For some fun ideas and inspiration on hedge mazes and labyrinths, visit www.homestratosphere.com/hedge-maze-designs.