Maybe you are looking to do more with your family, or maybe you need a new game to play at the Frat house, or maybe you are starting up a bar and want to give your patrons fun things to do; whatever the case may be, building a bocce ball court is a great way to make a fun game that anyone can enjoy.
There are some things that you’ll want to know before you start to build the court though! So, sit back, relax, and keep your notepad on you as we go through these 6 easy steps to build a bocce ball court.
The Materials and Tools You Need
To build a bocce ball court, you will need to start off by gathering up the tools and materials you need to build it.
Note: Although some bocce courts use different materials for the siding and play area, these are the general items that most bocce courts will use
Many people will use short grass or astro turf (synthetic turf) in their backyards rather than the official base rock, granite, and oyster shell flour used in this example. Just use whatever court material makes sense for your set up.
|Tool||Purchase Price||Rental Price|
|Landscaping Rake||$10 – $95||N/A|
|Sod Cutter||Regular – $45 – $85 |
Powered – $350 +
|Regular – N/A |
Powered – 1 day- $100
|Laser Level||$20 – $120||1 day- $70|
|Compactor||Regular – $30 |
Powered – $550 +
|Regular – 1 day $7 |
Powered – 1 day $90
|Circular Saw||$39 – $1,200||1 day- $30|
Note: Rental prices may vary based on store and location. These are just the averages I was able to gather by calling around.
|Decomposed Granite||0.5 cu. ft. $30|
|Base Rock||$320 – $950 (depending on yardage amount)|
|1 inch Stakes||$3 – $7 (per bundle)|
|Oyster Shell Flour||50 pounds- $30 |
2000 pounds- $450
|4×4’s or 6×6’s||$10 – $20|
|Wood Screws||$6 – $8|
|String||$3 – $6|
I was able to find everything on the tools and materials list on Amazon, or at my local Home Depot. Check out the Oyster Shell Flour Here on Amazon.
Plotting the Designated Court Area
Now, the first thing that you will want to do is plot out the court based on how large you want your court to be. A regulation court is 60 feet long by 12 feet wide. However, you can really make it any size to accommodate your yard.
Even if you have a smaller yard, it is still possible that you could install a bocce court. They can be as small as 22 feet long by 6 feet wide if that is all your yard can fit.
Don’t forget to take into account measurements for the size of the court’s border walls. This will add a bit to the length and width.
- You want to measure out the length of the court by starting in the desired corner.
- Drive a stake into the ground to mark one corner.
- Then, measure again lengthwise and place another stake.
- Tie a string in order to help you plot the other side.
- Using something like a string just helps you make sure the line is straight, which is very important when making a bocce court.
- Now, measure width-wise on both sides, using the string you placed to make sure you are making a 90-degree angle.
Make sure to double-check that the lines are straight, and your measurements are right. This will save you lots of potential headaches moving forward.
Excavating the Play Area
Now you’re going to want to start leveling out your play area.
First, you need to excavate about 2-6 inches of dirt. You also want to dig trenches in the location where you will be placing the court’s border. Place some of the excavated dirt to the side, as it will be used later on.
You now want to use the rake in order to flatten out the area that you just dug out. Using a laser level will help you make sure that you have created an even surface.
Make sure that the court, when built, is slightly above ground to avoid flooding. If this is not done, and draining is not added, your court will end up being more of a pond.
Here’s a quick video showing the process simplified. But, notice how important drainage and excavating the soil is to these professional installers.
Installing the Border of the Court
Although it is not required to do so, you may want to begin by marking the turf so that it is easier to lay the boards in a straight line. You can do this by using strings, as mentioned above. It’s also possible to use turf paint in order to lay down these markers. We’ve been fine just using the string.
Next, you want to cut your lumber to fit your court’s dimensions. In order to do this, you will want to use a circular saw. It will make your job much easier, and you will be able to get straight and even cuts.
Next, you want to lay the 4×4 or 6×6 down on the place that you plotted out, stacking them two high. You should use a level on each side to ensure that it is even.
You should do this step two times. That way, you ensure everything is even and you won’t have to make major adjustments later on.
Now, you will want to backfill some of the soil from before around the boards in order to secure the boards into the ground. Finally, you’re going to secure the ends of the boards with your screws to lock them together.
Here’s a view of a cross section of the court to give you an idea of what the goal is before heading into the layers.
Putting Down the First Layer
Now that you have decided where to place the court, leveled the area, and laid down the border; it’s now time to put down the first layer of your bocce ball court.
First, it’s wise to install a French drain around the court. When installing the drain, you want to make sure that you face the holes in the drain downwards. This causes the water to fill the pipe from below and carry through the pipe. Check out my article on How To Install A French Drain for a step by step guide on the process.
Here’s a quick video highlighting the importance of good drainage on a bocce ball court.
This helps prevent your court from being structurally compromised by water buildup.
The very bottom layer should be a coarse stone (some recommend using a washed stone), laid about 2-4 inches thick. One of the reasons for this layer is that it helps drain water that seeps into the court. So, if possible, you will want to lay the bottom layer so that it is on the thicker side.
Now that you have laid the stone, the surface is probably uneven again. Because of this, you will want to use your compactor/tamper in order to crush the stone and make the surface even. You will want to make sure it is level again at this point.
Putting Down the Second Layer
In the next layer, you’ll want to use crushed stone gravel, laid half as thick as the first layer. That should equal out to about 1-2 inches deep.
As with the bottom layer, you will want to compact the stone gravel in order to re-even out the surface.
Again, use the laser level to ensure that you have completely evened out the surface before moving onto the next step of building the court.
Putting Down the Third Layer
Now it is time to lay the third and final layer. Above, it’s suggested that you will want to purchase Oyster Shell Flour for this. However, there are other materials you can use.
- Sand is a cheap choice, but the biggest issue is that it will need to be constantly raked in order to make sure that the surface is smooth
- Grass can be an issue too, as you will have to maintain it like any other part of your lawn. One way to avoid maintenance is to use artificial turf. You will still need to remove debris from it
- Oyster blend and crushed stone is what professional players recommend. It is ideal as it helps the ball roll fast and it is a surface that stays flat, allowing for a track that is straight. It also absorbs the ball bounce well and helps with water drainage.
Whatever you use for the top layer, it should be the thinnest one, so only lay down about a ½ inch to 1 inch of whatever material you choose. Again, once this layer is put down, you will want to make sure that it is completely flat before you wrap up your work.
Here’s another video showing the installation of the layers of the court. They use some smart techniques to flatten and compact the materials in this one.
Maintaining Your Bocce Ball Court
Even though you have finished making the court, you will still have to regularly maintain it.
If you are using something like oyster shell flour or sand, the bocce balls will leave roll marks and dents that need to be flattened out. Debris will also start to accumulate, and that needs to be removed too.
In fact, when maintaining your Bocce Court, one of the biggest things you will need to pay attention to is keeping the surface clean. You’ll want to remove twigs, leaves, and other such debris.
You will want to brush the dirt and remove excess debris from the corners with a flat nose shovel.
Below is a list of the basic maintenance suggestions that will help keep your oyster shell court in tip-top shape:
- First, you want to scarify the court with the use of a lute. This helps break up, the debris that has gotten mixed up with the top layer of the bocce court.
- Next, you need to remove excess dirt that has collected at the edge of the court. Don’t completely remove it though, just pull it away from the edge with a flat-nose shovel.
- Now, use your drag broom and run it over the court, flattening out what you scarified.
- Again, you need to remove excess dirt that has gathered at the edges. This time though, you will want to remove it from the court. It is a good idea to just fill a five-gallon bucket with the dirt.
- After these steps, water down the court with a hose. This helps to show where there are divots, as the water will stay there longer. If you don’t have access to a hose, a string will also suffice to show depressions.
- If anything is noticeably bad, you will want to repeat these steps
If you have a bocce court with sand as a top layer, you will follow the steps above also. If you have a natural turf bocce court, as noted above, you will need to regularly mow it and remove excess debris such as twigs, rocks, leaves, etc.
If you have an artificial turf bocce court, you will, of course, not have to worry about mowing it. However, you still have to remove debris that falls into it.
Here’s a good video showing bocce court maintenance. It’s old and grainy, but gets the point across.
Self-Installed vs Contractor Installed Bocce Courts
After reading through this, you may be deciding whether it would be better to do this yourself or hire a contractor to make the court for you. After all, building a court from scratch may be daunting. You could always look on HomeAdvisor Landscaping for local companies, and see what they could help you with.
Well, as with anything, there are pros and cons to both. Building a court yourself can be a great experience, but it may not be for everyone.
Pros and Cons Of Self-Installing A Bocce Court:
- One of the pros of self-installation is that you will save money. With a contractor, you will be paying for materials along with labor. As a result, your bill will be much higher than if you just installed it yourself.
- Another pro of self-instillation is that it can be a great bonding time with your family. Working together on a project like this, and then seeing the result of your work, can be a great bonding experience that will be made even better when you play on the court you made.
- Also, there is a sense of self-satisfaction that you will get when the job is done. There is nothing like enjoying the fruits of your hard work and being able to brag about your bocce court building skills to your friends and family when they come over to play.
- One con is that it will take some time to make yourself. If you do not have the time or patience to spend a day (or possibly more) making this court, then it may be in your best interest to hire a contractor.
- A very notable con though is all that could go wrong. Draining could be installed wrong resulting in your court turning into a pond, measurement could be made incorrectly resulting in an uneven course, the layers could even be put down incorrectly resulting in a less than the satisfactory surface. All these issues that could occur will just cost more time and money on your end.
Pros and Cons of Hiring A Contractor
- The biggest pro of hiring a reputable contractor is that you can rest easy that the court will be installed correctly. Although there is room for human error, the chances of something being installed wrong is much lower, especially if you hire someone that specializes in court installation. If they offer a warranty on their work, you’ll be covered if something does go wrong.
- Another pro is of hiring a contractor is the time that you will save. As mentioned above, this project could take a day or more so if you are busy, hiring a contractor is a smart move. They also will probably be able to do it faster as they should have experience in installing courts.
- The biggest con of hiring a contractor is the price. You will be paying a lot more than if you were just to do it yourself.
- Another con of hiring a contractor, is finding the right one that will not try to overcharge you for the work that is being done can be hard.
Whether you choose to make the court yourself or hire a contractor, I promise you will be happy once it’s installed because it’s a great way to spend time with family and friends.
The Cost: Contractor vs. Self
As mentioned above, there is a price disparity when it comes to making the court yourself or hiring a contractor. It’s worth talking about a little more in-depth just so that you can decide whether it will be better to build it yourself or hire a contractor.
When building a bocce court yourself, you can expect to spend just under $1000. You can get those costs even lower if you already have some of the equipment or somewhere you can borrow it without paying.
You can save some money, and still have the bulk of the work done for you by hiring a landscaper. I recommend HomeAdvisor Landscaping for a start, you’ll have to see what the landscapers in your area can do but I’ve found good companies on there.
Bocce Builders of America is a company that will install a bocce court for you. They’re a professional company that will come to your location and build a bocce court according to your specifications.
When done by a professional team, the cost of your bocce court construction will depend on factors such as the size, material you choose, etc. But, Bocce Builders of America does note that, if you use a high-end surface, “on a 12 foot by 60-foot court you can spend $3-8k, $13k, or $27k on the surface alone.”
This just gives a good idea of how a high end professionally made court with the best materials can cost a ton of cash.
But, if you don’t feel as though you can make the court on your own, don’t fret over the price. There are ways you could get a lower cost by compromising in some areas through using lower-quality material, having a smaller court made, etc.
Now that you have installed the bocce ball court, you can look forward to summers filled with great memories of playing your friends and family in bocce ball. Now, you just need a Quality Bocce Ball Set Guide. If the court is installed correctly and everything goes smoothly, you’ll be having the time of your life in no time. Happy bocce-ing!