Okay, so now that you’ve decided to start a corn maze and are eager to get started, you need to take a methodical approach to planning your corn maze. Here are some important steps to get you winding your way to a successful maze.
Decide where your maze will be located. Remember things such as parking, access and visibility need to be factored into this decision. Other factors that deserve at least modest consideration include proximity of water sources in case of fire, accessibility by emergency vehicles if necessary and road conditions leading to your location. NOTE: Most folks won’t travel down more than a couple of miles of gravel road.
How much land will your maze encompass? Some mazes are as small as two to three acres while others encompass ten to fifteen acres. NOTE: You don’t have to be a traditional crop farmer to plant a corn maze. Many maze owners plant primarily for the purpose of having a maze. And while a maze will not sustain you financially throughout the year, you can diversify by having other crops or livestock. Or if you so desire, your maze can be a hobby with benefits, aka, supplemental income.
Design your maze. Again, unless you’re artistic, enlist the aid of experienced maze designers. For help in finding the right people to help you, contacting your state’s department of agriculture or your county extension office is a great place to start. Graphic arts students at the local high school or college are another resource worth exploring. They would have the expertise of their advisor to draw from and would potentially be more cost-effective. Another option if you’re not wanting anything too complex is to design your own using the following websites: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/maze/mazemaker.html, http://www.mazecatalog.com/about.shtml, http://www.cornmazesamerica.com/ or many others out there in the world of web. If you’re really ready to kick it up a notch in the ‘visitors to the farm’ category, design your maze in the image of a political figure, your state’s capitol building, a famous monument, a famous celebrity or the name of a popular movie.
Plant your maze. If you’re planting strictly for maze purposes, remember it’s best to plant the corn thicker than you would if it were to be harvested. Row width isn’t terribly critical because you can amend that when mowing your paths. The type of corn really isn’t important unless you plan on harvesting once the maze season is over. If you do have any plans of harvesting after the maze season, consider planting your maze in either a) popcorn (depending on what planting zone you live in) or b) field corn. Popcorn would only be feasible this late in the year for the southern most growing zones, but field corn could be picked and bagged as feed for squirrels, deer or other wild life. If this isn’t feasible or desired, the corn will most likely either die off due to frost and winter weather or become feed for the deer and raccoons that roam the fields over the winter months.
Mow your maze. Using either a small tractor or lawn tractor, mow the paths into your field when the corn reaches twelve to eighteen inches in height. This will ensure it won’t grow back-reducing maintenance. For anything more than just a start and finish path with a few dead ends thrown in, you’ll need a GPS to mark your coordinates so you stay on track with your design, but it’s definitely do-able. Using flags to mark the way is a near-essential for proper mowing. Some growers higher this done by an experienced maze mower, until they become familiar with the ins and outs of the process, but with proper planning and a bit of team work you can accomplish the task on your own.
Maintain your maze by using a roller pulled behind whatever you used to mow with to keep the paths packed down. Rolling is helpful in preventing injuries to visitors and in cutting down on the possibility of confusion over where to go.
Change it up! Don’t do the same design year after year. Visitors to the farm will find the change both enjoyable and challenging. Another option would be to have two smaller mazes; one more complex than the other.