What is a Hedge Maze?

G. Wiesen

A hedge maze is a garden maze that consists of a number of different paths divided by tall hedges. These hedges make it difficult to see any other area of the path, thereby creating a maze in which a person may find it difficult to find his or her way out. Various types of plants can be used for this type of maze, though evergreens are quite common and boxwoods have become increasingly popular in usage. A hedge maze was a fairly common Renaissance landscaping structure that can be found at a number of European estates, though in the US it is somewhat rarer.

A cornfield can be the perfect setting for a maze.
A cornfield can be the perfect setting for a maze.

The key feature of a hedge maze is typically the way in which it is designed, since the maze itself must be planned out before planting and arranging of the hedges. Early designs were initially created merely as a single path on which a person could walk, allowing for privacy and better utilizing a fairly small space. As time went on, these paths began to take on designs similar to mazes with the addition of dead ends and other features that could make a hedge maze difficult to navigate.

Tall hedges are shaped to form diverging paths in a hedge maze.
Tall hedges are shaped to form diverging paths in a hedge maze.

Boxwood is one of the most common plants used for making a modern hedge maze, though just about any type of evergreen could be used. Evergreens are popular due to their fullness and the fact that they will remain usable throughout the year, rather than losing leaves and making the maze too simple to navigate. These plants should be cared for regularly, and any diseases among the plants in the hedge maze should be found early and dealt with, to avoid the spread of such diseases to the other plants. Most evergreens can be cared for relatively easily, with trimming occurring in the summer and a minor trim just before winter freezing.

A modern hedge maze can be far more complicated than earlier forms, including the use of three-dimensional space by incorporating bridges, tunnels, and raised areas into the maze. Mazes can also be made using other types of plants, which do not necessarily appear like hedges, with tall rows of corn being quite popular in some areas. These corn mazes are especially popular in the fall and during harvest festivals, prior to the corn being harvested. A hedge maze has been featured prominently in a number of popular works of fiction including the film version of The Shining and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

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Discussion Comments


I think one of the largest mazes is made from yew trees. It is in Northern Ireland. It takes, on average, 40 minutes to get through.

The maze is made from 6,000 yew trees and covers almost three acres of land. One difference between this and other mazes is that the hedges are trimmed low enough that you can interact with other people in the maze, which I bet makes it easier to find your way out, too.

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