Get Rolling How To Build A Bocce Court In Your Backyard

Dated: 06/01/2018

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Homeowners asking "How to build a bocce court" probably have an underused space in their backyard that's crying out for some attitude adjustment. When the weather heats up and you want to spend all your time outside, a rousing game of bocce is one of the coolest lawn games you can incorporate into the design of your yard. Also known as Italian lawn bowling, bocce dates back centuries—and it's a breeze to learn how to play. Plus, throwing a bocce ball requires only one hand, leaving the other free for a seasonal cocktail.

How to build a bocce court

If your summer calendar is an endless loop of backyard barbecues and festive get-togethers (Memorial Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July, to name a few), a bocce court will provide hours of fun for adults and kids. Here's how to build one.

1. Measure the area for the court

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Regulation bocce courts are 91 feet by 13 feet. But that's a pretty big area for most grassy backyards.

To accommodate your space, figure out how much room you can dedicate to your bocce court while adhering to similarly long and narrow dimensions.

"Usually you'll want it to be somewhere between 8 to 12 feet wide and 36 to 60 feet long," says Travis Smith, Northern California regional manager of Purchase Green, a company that builds courts.

A finished bocce court should have a flat, level area that minimizes a ball's bounce.

2. Select the area and dig

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Stake out a perimeter for the frame around the court, and then excavate down roughly 5 to 6 inches inside so that you can lay down sub-base layers.

Remember, you'll be building a frame (more on that below) around the court to keep the balls from rolling out. Generally, you want the frame to be about 4 to 6 inches higher than the playing surface, says Smith.

3. Level the initial surface

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Building up a bocce court surface involves layering several materials. After digging down, make sure your ground is as level as possible, says Allen Michael, founder of SawsHub.com. Of course, you don't want your bocce balls to veer off course as you play.

It'll be a little tricky to get such a large space completely level, but get it as close to flat as possible using a 3-foot leveler.

Afterward, Michael advises letting the dirt settle and compact for a few weeks to prevent your court from becoming uneven later.

4. Build the frame

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While you can construct a concrete frame, keep in mind that you'll be throwing metal balls at it, and concrete can chip. For that reason, Michael recommends using treated 4-by-4 lumber for the frame.

"Four-by-fours are nice and thick, and will stand up to the pounding they'll receive from bocce balls hitting them," says Michael.

Be sure to choose treated wood so your court will be able to withstand the elements.

Cut the wood so the inner dimensions match that of the court's outer perimeter. Then join the 4-by-4 at each of the four ends with both wood screws and metal joining plates for added strength.

If you think you'll need an extra layer of protection, Michael recommends running 2-by-6 lumber along the outside of the 4-by-4 frame. The extra lumber will add a layer of depth and provide additional strength for your bocce court frame.

5. Lay the surface

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Creating a bocce court surface involves three different materials of varying degrees of thickness. The materials you use aren't standardized, but layering it correctly is very important.

The bottom layer should be 3 inches thick.

"Try to get creative about what you use so it doesn't cost an arm and a leg," says Michael, who spent about $1,000 total on the court he built. He likes hard rock or gravel as a base.

Use decomposed granite for the next layer, which should be 1 to 2 inches thick. Then wet the granite, compact it several times with a tamper, and check the level again.

The final layer could be more decomposed granite, sand, or even crushed oyster shells around 1 inch deep. You can also use artificial or real grass for the final surface. For artificial grass, adhere it to the base using nails around the perimeter of the court and every 2 to 3 feet inside the court. Infill the grass with silica sand to protect the backing.

Now all that's left is the coin toss to see who plays first!

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