Grow and Mow a Lawn Maze
By Sara Wendt
Everyone has a memory of something fun they did as a child and mine is a rather unique one. One fall when I was in middle school, my dad told my sister and me to look out the window into our backyard. There, cut into the grass, was a maze. We had all the neighbor kids come over and play for hours. Since then, he has cut our maze every fall without fail, even after I went to college. I must say I still enjoy running through the maze like a maniac trying to be the first to find my way in or out of it. It’s even more fun to have young relatives or family friends visit and play in the maze. Their faces grow huge smiles and excitement lights their eyes. For me, it was a huge stimulator for my imagination, and definitely ensured a lot of exercise!
CREATING THE MAZE:
- Step one: Find an area of grass and find the middle. A large item, such as a ball, can mark the spot.
- Step two: Lower your mower’s blade height to around 1 ½”. Cut a small square 2-3 mower widths in the center of the lawn. (These directions are for cool season grasses. Adjust the height for the lawn grass you are growing)
- Step three: Begin making concentric squares (to be the paths) around the center. Be sure to leave several un-mowed breaks in each square to represent walls (Fig. 1). Make the walls about a foot wide.
- Step four: Once you have finished the squares, you can begin connecting them by mowing doors between paths (Fig 2). Plan out a meandering course through your maze, complete with dead ends. My dad strategizes on the lawn but it may help to draw out the maze on a piece of paper.
- Step five: Invite friends and enjoy your creation!
- Allow the lawn to grow an extra week before creating the maze.
- When creating a dead end, have the path loop around so the person walking through will end up returning on a different path. It is less frustrating than having to constantly stop and back track.
- Design a maze with multiple entrances. Doing so adds more opportunities to find different paths through it.
- Experiment with different maze shapes, such as a circle (Fig 4). If a maze is too difficult or too large for your lawn, try creating something else for kids to play in, such as a floor plan of a house. Be creative and try different things.
When the maze is first cut, the turf will be bright green, which makes it easier to see where the cut paths are. Do not scalp the turf (cut too short). For maintenance cuts, keep the mowing height low for paths. To trim the walls, either raise the blade to the highest level or walk with the front wheels off the ground (do not mow this way with people nearby!). Create mazes in fall when it is cooler and the grass may benefit by cutting at a short length prior to winter.