Whether you’ve just invested in a brand-new home with a huge backyard and can’t wait to spruce it up for family and friends, or even if you’ve always had an ample backyard but were never quite sure what to do with all the space, summer is the perfect time to think about outdoor activities. How many of us can’t wait to get outdoors when the weather is nice? And, often, we can enjoy that outdoor time straight into the fall. That’s why making your yard family-friendly is money well spent for all seasons!
Perhaps you’ve got a few ideas, and maybe you’ve already got a pool or other backyard perks. But did you know that outdoor game areas are one of the biggest trends of the year? And, furthermore, they can be tailored to please both kids and adults. And you don’t even need tons of extra space to turn your yard into “game central.” With a little thought and some smart planning, you’ll be hosting croquet, bocce, and volleyball tournaments in your very own backyard in no time at all…or perhaps you’ll just enjoy a little extra fun with your friends, all within steps of your back door.
To Game or Not to Game
Deciding whether or not to take the plunge into the world of backyard games may require a bit of discussion and maybe even a list of pros and cons. You’ll probably find, however, that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Take a moment to think about the positives of converting your yard (or just a portion of your yard) to an entertainment complex that all ages can enjoy.
Do you get enough exercise? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is probably a resounding “no.” Many of us are too busy or just too tired to make the trip from our house to the gym or public park at the end of a busy workday. However, if you could step out your door and take advantage of your own basketball court, volleyball net, putting green, or croquet course, would you be more likely to exercise? Most people would say “yes.”
Once school’s out, do you worry about your kids and where they might be when you’re unable to keep both eyes on them? That’s a common parent complaint during the summer months when kids and teens have lots of free time on their hands. If you were to turn your backyard into an enticing game area featuring active pursuits that your kids love, chances are they’ll be spending a lot more time at home and will be eager to invite their friends over to join in the fun.
Want to add a little pizzazz to your parties all year long? A game area will get the job done. Friends and family will love a rousing game of horseshoes, shuffleboard, lawn darts, or even Frisbee golf. Or how about an outdoor pool table? That means those who enjoy billiards aren’t stuck inside while others enjoy the outdoors.
Bocce, Billiards, or Ball Games?
What you decide to include in your outdoor game area will depend on several issues – primarily cost and space – and of course, the kinds of games you enjoy.
Here are some examples of the space and dollar amounts it might require to build some of your favorite outdoor games:
- An average backyard putting green takes up about 500 square feet of space. They cost about $15 per square foot when installed by a professional – less when you do it yourself. The putting green can be designed in a variety of shapes to fit your space needs.
- A regulation bocce court measures about 60’ x 12’ and is rectangular in shape. Simple 2” vinyl boundary courts (which include pre-measured boundary lines, vinyl markers, colored flags, etc.) can be purchased for as little as $50. A court with vinyl mesh sideboards costs about $350.
- Pre-fabricated backyard “sports courts” are available for a variety of different sports, including basketball, tennis, soccer, shuffleboard, volleyball/badminton, or roller hockey. These can be designed to fit your space needs though standard sizes are suggested for sports like tennis. Prices can be quite hefty, but the results are excellent. The average multi-sport court manufactured by SportCourt ™ costs between $20,000-$25,000 and measures approximately 30’ x 60’.
- Horseshoes and some other lawn-based games can be situated in a relatively small amount of space and at little cost to the consumer.
- Outdoor pool tables are usually placed on existing decks or some other solid surface, so no extra preparation may be required. Prices range from $3000-$6000, and most pool tables are about 13’x17’ in size.
Do it Yourself?
Okay, so you’re sold on the idea of providing some unique fun-in-the-sun for your family and friends, but maybe you’re not too sure about how to get started and whether or not you should attempt to do the work yourself.
When considering whether or not to hire a professional, the cost is usually the first issue that homeowners examine. Ineptitude is the second. If you’re not particularly handy with power tools (remember Home Improvement with Tim Allen?), it’s best to hire someone who is.
In some instances, you may not have a choice. If you’ve opted for a sports court, it will most likely be installed by the dealership from which you purchase it. But if you’ve decided on a horseshoe pit or bocce court, these may be something you can handle on your own.
Time is another consideration. If you have a deadline for the completion of your game area (perhaps an upcoming special event you’re hosting), it may be best to hire someone who can give you a steadfast commitment as to when your outdoor game installation will be complete. Be sure to get it in writing! Many projects can be accomplished in as little as two days.
Separate but Equal
Once the game area is complete, most homeowners like to devise some way to divide the game area from the pool or deck, where people like to gather to socialize or enjoy a meal, preferring not to be hindered by flying horseshoes or projectile golf balls.
Experts suggest some sort of “natural” screen. Something that grows vertical is best because it won’t take up extra space in your yard. Game area owners also tend towards shrubs and plants that won’t drop a lot of debris on their putting greens, horseshoe pit, or bocce court. Some build berms and cover them with plants or boulders, which not only separate the areas but also add interesting texture to the yard. Others opt for pretty wrought iron or wooden benches surrounded by shade trees, providing both a barrier and a place to rest.
A food and beverage area also makes an excellent divider between backyard living areas and games. A built-in barbecue area and a refreshment bar separating the two sections will be convenient to those enjoying both sides of the yard.
Ready, Set, Go!
It’s not too late to add some sizzle to your summer (and all the other seasons as well) with a brand new outdoor game area. With a little planning, ingenuity, and creativity, you’ll be the envy of all your neighbors, the coolest parent on the block, and on your way to a healthier you.