After designing the paved labyrinth, the next step is to prepare a level area and then there is the all important very accurate cutting of the stones and correctly laying out the pattern. After locating all utilities and getting necessary covenant permission, we were ready to go. First up was removing all plant material and grading of the site with heavy equipment. It was necessary to level a space large enough for the labyrinth to be placed and a retaining wall to be built into the hillside.
Once the soil was graded, you could clearly see where the wall was going to be built of boulders. Measuring 45 feet long and 2 feet thick (13.7m x 600mm), varying from 2 to 2.5 feet high (500-750mm) along its length, we used large boulders of Pennsylvania Field Stone.
I designed the curve to embrace the area of the labyrinth, so you felt that you were in a special enclosed space. Using dry laid technique, the wall was completed in 4 to 5 days. Then we were ready to start on the flat work of the labyrinth.
Once the wall was finished and before we started the labyrinth itself, it was time to stub out the electrical in conduit. For the Heart Space of the labyrinth, we needed electricity for the pump to run for the boulder fountain.
Preparing the Flat Area
Once the wall was completed, the flat area was graded level with a slight slope towards the lane for drainage. It was power tamped with gravel laid on top. The next layer was the black landscape fabric pinned in place. Topping it all off was the white template pinned to the ground.
The most important part of the job was getting the base properly prepared and power tamped so that the stones would not shift. The base was composed of tamped soil, tamped gravel, black landscape cloth, and topped off with the template for placement of the stones.
Hard Work – Cutting
The hard work of cutting and fitting the bluestone began. My stone mason made numbered templates of all the curves in the labyrinth so that he could cut the stone precisely. Every piece of stone that was used had to be hand cut with a diamond tipped stone saw blade which was a very time consuming task.
Putting it all together
Every stone was cut to size and placed on the template in position. Once each stone was fitted together, stone dust had to be placed under each piece and tamped. Because bluestone is a natural stone, each piece of stone varied in thickness, and each piece had to be individually placed and leveled.
To make the lines stand out against the blue-grey color of the bluestone, a dark charcoal grey gravel was placed in between the stones. A metal edge that would not rust was inserted around the perimeter of the labyrinth, and staked to keep everything stable.
This 24 foot (7.3m) diameter labyrinth can give a walker a long and comfortable journey. The total distance for walking is 439 foot (134m) which is phenomenal considering the total space we had to work with. The width of the walking path is 20 inches (500mm) which is plenty wide for a single walker. This design can also accommodate multiple walkers if need be.