Create a backyard corn maze for tons of family fun. ATTRIBUTION: waferboard (Flickr)

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of walks with my family each October through a local corn maze. Today, corn mazes are a common symbol of Autumn, and are the perfect Fall activity for families in search of outdoor fun. Designing and creating your own private labyrinth can provide entertainment for children and adults of all ages throughout the fall season. If you haven’t yet tilled under or cut down the corn stalks in your garden, follow our simple guide to build a corn maze. (Otherwise, hang onto this list until the spring.)

Design the Layout

Before the building process can begin, you must first sketch out the layout of the corn maze. The design and level of difficulty will depend on the ages of the individuals who will be using it. Start by measuring the plot of land that will be used for the maze to determine how much space is available. Next, draw out a basic maze on paper featuring twists, turns, and dead ends. Remember to add in the entry and exit points.

Plant the Seeds

If you don’t already have a corn field in your backyard, you’ll need to grow your own. Opt for a corn variety with a strong stalk, broad leaf, and resistance to insects. Depending on the variety you choose, you will need to sow the seeds between early spring and late summer. As the corn grows, be sure to keep it weed-free. Maze-building can begin when the corn reaches one foot or taller.

Create the Maze

Once the corn has reached the desired height, it’s time to create your maze design. The most affordable way to create the paths in the maze is with a weed-wacker. Modern GPS technology can also be helpful if cost isn’t a factor. GPS technology can help you determine where to build your maze with the help of satellites. The technology also helps to keep cutting errors to a minimum.

Make It Interactive

Now that your maze has been created, it’s time to add extra features to make the activity more interactive for those who participate. While these are optional, it can be fun to enhance the user’s experience by creating checkpoints in the maze to motivate and encourage participants to keep going. Children can also be challenged to find small rewards or treats placed in various spots inside the corn maze.

Host Maze Games

There are numerous games and activities that can be played in a corn maze, such as hide and seek or a scavenger hunt. For children or adults who enjoy a little competition, consider having contests to see who can complete the maze in the shortest amount of time. Make a scoreboard that lists the best completion times. Maps of the maze can be made to help smaller children find their way.

Maintain the Maze

Of course, you will need to maintain the maze throughout the fall to prevent it from becoming overgrown. Once the paths are established during the building of the maze, they will need to be raked and weeded on a regular basis. Consider covering the pathways with straw or mulch to make walking easier and to suffocate any weeds that try to sprout up.