Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Grass Labyrinth

  Planning the Lab

I'm partial to the classic 11-circuit Chartres labyrinth pattern.  I have made a smaller one once and can someday include the plans for that one.  For now, I'll show you how to make the 11 circuit labyrinth.

OK--Here is a photo of the smaller one.  It was custom made to fit a 24 foot room (I think the canvas is actually 20 feet square).  Because there are fewer circuits the path is a bit larger and easier for an adult to walk freely.  I intended to walk this one indoors in the fellowship hall of this building but you can see how pretty it was outside that day:

The first thing you'll do when planning a labyrinth is figure out how big you want it and there are two ways to approach the issue: (1) are you limited by the size of the lab?  (Does it have to fit in a rooms of a certain size or a field of a certain size?) or (2) do you have a specific path size in mind?

Your magic number is 26.  I ended up with this number because you have the circuits plus the center and the center is twice the size of the circuits so your measurements will be 11 circuits plus 2 and that's just the radius.  Double that for the diameter.  11+2=13  and 13X2=26

If you have all the room in the world,  maybe you have a pasture of fairly unlimited size and you want a good size path--say, a 30" path-- then you will take 30" and multiply that by 26, giving you 780 inches or 65 feet.  You will want a space that is at least 65 feet across for this labyrinth.

But if you have a room that is only 30 feet square and you wonder if you can fit a lab in it you will take 30 and transfer that into inches:  12X30=  384 then divide it by 26 giving you 14.77 inches for a path.  I would round down generously to give myself space to paint and expect a 14 inch path in that room.

Twelve inches is about the smallest you could comfortable go for a labyrinth path and even then you might need to walk with only one foot in the path at times.  Kids could walk this path easily but it wouldn't be as comfortable for adults.  It would be much better to go with a lab that had fewer circuits and a wider path.


The good news for making a grass labyrinth is that it doesn't take a whole lot of equipment to make initially.  It does, however, take a lot of paint to maintain once you have it painted--especially in the growing season.   To lay out the lab only takes a few feet of rope, a painting stick, three tent stakes, a yardstick and a paint marking stick.......and a case of paint.  To maintain the lab takes a case of paint about every other time you mow.

You can get around paying for paint by not mowing the pattern and only mowing the path with a push mower but that's another category for another day.  It's much easier to mow the lab with a riding mower and spend the money on a case of six cans of marking paint.

Start by printing off a copy of this diagram:

Now, let's go out to the field and start laying it out.  There about three parts to the layout.  The circles.  The turn-arounds on three of the quadrants and then the entrance.  

Watch the video to get a feel for how I lay out the lab.

The turn-arounds are a little trickier:

I'm going to show you three diagrams.  The lab is broken down into four quadrants.  I call them North, East, West and Entrance no matter what direction your lab is in.  I never was good at directions and they mean nothing to me anyway.  I hope it doesn't matter to you.  They are just arbitrary names.  The North, East and West quadrants are the easiest.  I'll save the Entrance for last since it's the hardest.

Let's start with the North quadrant and mark it off:

Attach a rope to the center stake and run it straight to the edge of the outside of the lab opposite your entrance.  Take your measuring stick that's a path wide and mark a path width one side of the center stake and place a tent stake, running a rope out to the edge of the lab.  Place another tent stake on the other side of the center stake a path width and run the third rope.  Make sure all three ropes are parallel with a path width space between them.  .  Check the diagram.

Now refer to your numbered diagram to see which numbered lines make the turns.  For the North quadrant this would be lines 1 and 3 wrap around 2.  4 and 6 wrap around 5....7 and 9 wrap around 8 and 10 and 12 wrap around 11.  Take the paint stick and paint the ground.

Here are the diagrams for the other two quadrants:

East Quadrant


And this is when you have to refer to the diagram a LOT.

And then Shift over to painting the entrance.  To me, this is the hardest part of the whole process.  And there is a little trick.  You have to move the stake over ONE-HALF a path width instead of a whole path.

Look at the diagram for a minute:

On my lab I have a permanent center stake and I never touch it.  So I bring in an extra stake and place it one-half the path width to the left of the center stake and push the stake into the ground.  Then attach the rope and run the rope to the outside of the lab.  THEN I mark a full path width to the right of that rope and put a tent stake and a rope and run it parallel.  Then a third rope to the right of that one.  I end up with three ropes and two paths.  The center of the left-most path goes to the center stake.  You can see how this ends up being the path that leads you into the labyrinth at the culmination of your walk.

Then mark the left side of the entrance

I have to confess that this little "half-path" trick took me a long time to figure out and I am still correcting up some of my mis-calculations made over time. (You can see my confusion in my earlier diagram of the line markings on the shows the center stake in the wrong position. A clear sign of how wrong I was back when I made that diagram.  I am very embarrassed.)

The nice thing about grass and paint is that neither one is permanent.  You can always fix mistakes.  You might even get a can of brown paint to paint over big errors.  Brown or green paint.

And you can always fix mistakes: