The mixture of public goods that arise from rural land is shaped by multiple policy instruments, such as regulations and economic incentives. Whilst there is a vast literature focusing on categories of policy instruments, there remains the need for a deeper exploration of the interaction between these instruments and the consequences for managing public goods in agricultural and/or forested landscapes. Therefore, we explore how policy instruments influence the mix of public goods provided by Scottish agricultural and forested areas, drawing on desk based and empirical research. Our data suggest that whilst environmental policy instruments in Scotland are designed to coordinate – i.e. not to conflict – with each other, the design and implementation of instruments often go beyond this. We find that many instruments are hybrid and/or rely on interactions with other instrument types (interdependency) to achieve their objectives. This seems well understood by those involved in the implementation of policy instruments. In light of these results, we argue that the literature about types of policy instruments must evolve to explicitly acknowledge interdependency and hybridity: these concepts can become starting points for understanding how public goods can be governed in a more systemic way. Our work also draws attention to the need to study policy instruments ‘on the ground’ in order to understand their role and use in the wider debates about new environmental governance. Finally, while the idea of interdependency and hybridity brings challenges and even resistance by some who design policy, it may also help to overcome the existing policy implementation deficit between the aims and achievements of environmental policies.