Building A Backyard Bocce Court?

Just took one day for me to have to add other items to my 'backyard dream' list.  Yesterday, I posted my 2020 to-do list and today, I'm talking about adding something to our yard that WAS NOT on that list.  I supposed that's ok, because this isn't something that I am going to add THIS YEAR.  I suppose this could be something that I'd put on my 2021 or beyond to-do-list.  Let's call this just simply a [backyard dreaming] post.

In yesterday' post, I included #11 which calls for me to "build something" and I mentioned a couple of ideas including a garden chair, a Versailles box, a Raised bed, some Insect houses, a Wattle Fence.  and finally a bird nesting box/platform.  Today, I'm adding to that potential 'build list' with a Bocce Ball Court.

I came across this post on the Landscaping Network site that lays out the details of adding a Bocce Ball Court to your backyard.   They talk about the materials, the dimensions/space needed, some site considerations and include some tips on building one.  That story piqued my interest and sent me down a research rabbit hole on the Web.

I'm sure that you're like me and that you've played Bocce Ball before.  Either at a resort or at a restaurant.  It is a lot of fun.  But, a whole court?  Seems like a lot.  But, maybe it could be a really fun hobby to pick up.

Regulation Bocce Ball Courts are 91 feet long by 13 feet wide - so it is something that takes up quite a bit of space.  However, this piece says that backyard Bocce Ball courts can be any size that works for a backyard.  We have quite a bit of space, but I don't want to take up 91 feet - that's for sure.  A common backyard size is 60 feet long by 12 feet wide, but I think that might be too big for us, too.

We have a trampoline in our backyard that the kids love jumping on, but when they outgrow it, could we think about that same space for a court?  Imagine the space between the 2nd large Oak tree and where we planted the 3 small Hemlocks.  Right here - in orange:



Our yard has some grade to it, but that part of the property is mostly flat.  That would make the construction a little bit easier and wouldn't require a lot of retaining walls and such.  However, construction of a court like this requires quite a bit of surface preparation.  From this Popular Science story, you can get a good sense of the materials required  Here's their cross-section photo:
Via Popular Science.  This is not my photo (above).  It is from this story on Bocce Court construction.
It seems that there's some excavation required - to get to a flat depth that you can build on.   Then Popular Mechanics calls out a dual layer system of LARGE rocks topped with a finer material. And there's some drainage requirements.  This BocceMon post talks about drainage and materials.  He calls for 3-6" of removal for rock along with a 3" perforated drain pipe (potentially x3) laid in the 1" crushed rock.  Topped with 3/4" or 5/8" crushed rock and finally topped with a Bocce blend - which I think for me might be decomposed granite or crushed oyster shells.  Via BocceMon:

Via BocceMon.  This is not my drawing/photo.  Source of graphic above on BocceMon here.
So, once I figure out the size and the depth and the drainage, I start to think about the border.  Once you start to poke around the Web for Bocce ball courts, you begin to think about how 'high' the court should be.  There's a neat 'surface-level' example from This Old House post that features a court that is surrounded by pavers and is 'walk-on' from ground level.  Then, there are others that are built way more out of the ground that have some nice features like this court (below) that I found on Pinterest of a court with a tall backboard that includes a ball holder.
Via Pinterest.  This is NOT my photo.  
The photo above doesn't show any trees, but, I know myself that if we built something like this, it would HAVE to be in the shade.  Nestling it into the landscape behind the Oak tree with some seating for people to hang out feels right to me.

Some other considerations for the placement/construction of a court include lighting (like...this example on Houzz that shows some lights on the court), scoreboard, seating for spectators and even the material of the backboards (timbers vs. hard/stone/brick).

Certainly not something on the front burner, but as I plant and think about the backyard, a bocce ball court is something that I'll keep in the back of my mind.

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