I’ve envisioned having a labyrinth in our back garden ever since we bought our house nearly two years ago, and I’m excited to say that now we have one!
Two months ago, some friends who had journeyed with us through our miscarriage gathered together on the day that the baby we lost would have been due to mark the occasion by installing a labyrinth in our backyard. Given that I’ve written here about this experience feeling like walking a labyrinth, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate way to spend the day—a day on which, for us, the journey still continued.
In preparation for installing our labyrinth, I searched the Internet for instructions on how to create an easy, affordable labyrinth in a backyard and was surprised to not find many tutorials. Because of this, I decided to document our experience and make my own. Below you’ll find instructions for installing a brick garden labyrinth (we chose brick so we could easily mow over it and use the space for other purposes), though you could also make it out of stone or even plantings. It could be neat to do a seasonal one out of flowers that spring up in summer and fade in the fall! Here’s what you’ll need…
- labyrinth pattern – We imitated a picture we found, and you’re welcome to copy ours! You could also choose a simple spiral or another shape, such as a square—the key is to have a path that you walk in and out on as well as a defined center.
- stakes and twine – to lay out the path
- marking chalk – to mark the lines
- edger – for outlining the path
- trench spade – for digging out the path (the perfect size for bricks!)
- trowel – for finer digging to get things just right
- circular saw with a masonry blade – in case you need to cut bricks
- bricks – or whatever else you choose to mark the path
- plus, coffee and pastries for friends and family who come to help!
We borrowed all of the tools from our local tool library, which was so great because we didn’t have to buy the more expensive items! Find out if you have a tool library near you here.
Determine the size of your labyrinth and how wide you want the walking paths to be. We knew we wanted our labyrinth to be 10ft in diameter and based on the pattern that we were following needed three circles within the larger one, so our walking paths ended up being around 16in. The center circle doesn’t necessarily have to follow the path measurements since it is the center of the labyrinth, so that gave us room to play with path size until we found the perfect width.
Once we knew our measurements, we plotted our grid by putting stakes in the ground—one in the center of the labyrinth with additional stakes marking each path line all the way to the outer circle.
Mark out your labyrinth template on the ground. We did this by creating a compass of sorts with the twine and center stake, tying the twine around the paint can and holding it upside down, spraying as we moved around the circle.
I let Kyle do it since he’s the math wiz.
After the circles are complete, mark out the remainder of the path. We used solid lines to mark where brick would be used and hash marks to designate where the line of bricks would end and the walking path would turn.
Lay out the bricks on the template. It was exciting to finally get a visual of what it would look like! This step also helped us figure out how to arrange the bricks and which bricks might need to be cut.
Use the edger to outline the bricks. This helps loosen the dirt, ensures a straight line, and made the digging that followed waaaay easier.
Use the trench spade to dig out the brick path. The trench spade we used just so happened to be the exact width of a brick!
Start putting the bricks in place and fine-tune with a trowel. This step took the longest by far, but it was worth it to get everything just right. After all, it’s a permanent installment!
As we were putting the bricks in place we got creative with how we wanted the center to look and settled on a sunburst (or a flower, depending on how you look at it). I encourage you to get creative here, too. After all, the center is a place of resting when walking a labyrinth and represents union with the Divine, which makes it a great place to play around and come up with a design that is meaningful for you.
If you need to cut a brick, use a circular saw and wet the brick beforehand for a cleaner cut. You’ll probably want to wear earplugs, too!
Level out the bricks and fill in the holes with mud. It served as our own DIY, nature-made mortar, and it was plentiful since the previous days had been rainy!
Admire your creation! You’ll probably want to plant some grass seed, too, but not before giving it a try by walking the path!
PS: New to labyrinths? Here’s a great resource and primer.