Syrup Maker

This maple tree mix creates beautiful shade, fall color, and offers routes to wealth creation over time.

SunPart ShadeShade










Sun, Part Shade, Shade

The Syrup Maker is a long-term lot design that has potential to generate income once the trees are mature enough (12 inches) to collect sap for maple syrup production.

Maple trees offer a vibrant array of fall colors and sun dappled summer shade. It could take two decades for your trees to reach the size required for tapping, however in the interim, the Syrup Maker provides a quiet, well groomed landscape appropriate for most blocks in most neighborhoods.

Once your trees have reached ten inches in diameter, sap collecting can begin! This usually requires a few basic tools like a drill, bucket, hook, and maple tap. Michigan has a strong network of sugarmakers, with several Michigan based suppliers of tapping equipment, evaporators, and even cooperative syrup selling opportunities.

This is a ‘heirloom landscape’ lot design that will be enjoyed by many generations.

Ideal Location: Single, double, or multiple lots in full sun or shade.


The Syrup Maker is a moderately priced lot design and based on the cost of planting one and a half inch diameter trees and utilizing volunteer labor. The larger the tree, the more expensive it is. To save money you can plant smaller tree sizes however this can take longer for trees to reach the twelve inch diameter required for sap for maple syrup production. Another option for resource conservation is to plant your Syrup Maker incrementally by adding a few trees each planting season. Although it is possible to hire someone to plant your trees at any size, installing the Syrup Maker makes for a great weekend group or family event.

Green Infrastructure

Trees are an important part of our green infrastructure in Detroit. Trees capture and slow the release of water back into our air and soil.

Vegetation and Visibility

Clear views are preserved from the street through to the alley by using generous spacing between tree trunks. The low ground cover of this lot design is easy to see through during every season.

Falling Hazard

Unmaintained trees create a hazard to neighboring structures. Consider if your Syrup Maker might block any daylight, or if any branches falling off of your trees might fall on someone else’s property. We recommend working with a certified arborist as your trees mature. Please note the trees on the plan are shown at a mature spread. All trees specified will fit within your lot boundaries and have been situated to prevent basement intrusion.


Installing the Syrup Maker will make for a fun and rewarding weekend with your friends, family or neighbors. The installation of this lot design should not require professional assistance if you, with the help and support of others, would like to build this design. Please refer to the Step-By-Step section for guidance. The installation process does not require any special, mechanized equipment. The most strenuous physical tasks are transporting your trees and digging the holes to plant your trees. The Field Guide recommends having access to a car or vehicle for hauling your maple trees home. Always hire a professional (or barter with one of your more energetic neighbors) if you are not up for the challenge, but remember, this will increase your costs. The Syrup Maker works well on multiple lots—all the more reason to include your friends and neighbors in this project. Your group may also decide to build the Syrup Maker over a series of weekends or seasons, completing one lot at a time through a phased or incremental approach.

NOTE: The older and larger the trees you plant, the more the Field Guide recommends speaking with a professional or an educational group to ensure a safe transition from their previous home to your lot. In some ways trees are like people – the older they are, the longer it can take to adjust to a big change, like moving across town.

Build Time Estimate

Ten hands or less! With the help of friends, family or neighbors, this project could be completed in a weekend. The Field Guide assumes the lot is ‘construction ready,’ and all equipment and materials required for the lot design have been acquired and are ready to use.

Build Difficulty

Number of People Needed

Neighbor Labor

Time Taken to Build

Build Season

Transportation Intensity

Permit Requirements


The Syrup Maker is a low maintenance lot design. Upkeep includes watering newly planted trees, particularly during times of drought and excess heat. Trees must be watered regularly during the first year- plan to water weekly or as needed.

Plan ahead and remember to think about where and how you will access water for the next month!

The Field Guide recommends connecting with an arborist or taking a workshop on tree health and maintenance. The Greening of Detroit offers a great Citizen Forester program to interested residents.

Seasonal Upkeep Levels

  • Spring: Low
  • Summer: Low
  • Fall: Low
  • Winter: Low

Upkeep Frequency

Upkeep Skill Levels

Professional Assistance

Special Tools