Game On: How To Build 3 Popular Games Into Your Backyard Space

Part of the appeal of the summer months in the Pacific Northwest is the extended amount of time you can spend outside, thanks to our usually-moderate climate. While you might have thought about our products in terms of more traditional home improvement projects like backyard fire pits, there are also many outdoor lawn games and recreation activities you can accommodate using Mutual Materials products. With just a few basic tools, you can create one of your favorite games in your own backyard!


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3 Backyard Games for Pacific NW Outdoor Spaces

1. Bocce Ball

Bocce ball is a fun outdoor game for the whole family, employing equal parts strategy and skill. Bocce ball dates all the way back to the George Washington era and was popular with Leonardo Da Vinci, Queen Elizabeth, Galileo, and other famous historical figures. The objective is for one team to get as many of their balls closer to the pallino (target ball) than their opponents. (For a full copy of the official rules of bocce ball, visit here.)

Bocce ball is to be played on a stretch of level ground – pavement, gravel hard-packed dirt, or sand. Defining the area with hardscape pavers or blocks can add a luxury outdoor feeling to the game area and your unique Bocce Ball court.

  • TuscanStone – Before you lay the blocks, clear the area of grass, plants, debris, and lay down landscape fabric as a barrier. If you are building the Bocce Ball court onto an existing patio or paved area, you may be able to simply lay over the existing materials. Lay TuscanStone blocks in three to five layers in a large square shape, one layer at a time. An official Bocce Ball court measures 91 feet long and 13 feet wide.
  • Once you have laid the TuscanStone as high as you want the outline of the court to be, it’s time to add the sand filling. Sand works well as it’s easy to obtain and is relatively inexpensive. Depending on how deep you want your court to be, pour your bags of sand to create a smooth surface inside of the TuscanStone block court. Be sure to rake the sand so it’s smooth before playing a match.

Mutual Materials TuscanStone is featured in the above photo.

2. Horseshoe Pit

Horseshoes is a backyard game that also dates back many centuries. The game is played by the players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at stakes in the ground, traditionally placed 40 feet apart. The stake is commonly placed four feet in front of the back of the pit. The backboard should be at least one foot high and extend the width of the pit. For a full copy of the official rules of horseshoe, visit here.

To build a regulation horseshoe pit, you essentially need two identical sand pit areas far away from each other. Retaining wall block can make terrific backstop walls to define your backyard horseshoe pits and keep the sand contained. To build a backyard horseshoe game area, here are some step-by-step instructions and recommended Mutual Materials products you will need:

  • Step one of building a DIY horseshoe pit is to dig out the area you wish to build on. Consider utilizing landscaping fabric to line the bottom of your pit to prevent future weed growth in your sandbox area.
  • There are many types of Mutual Materials retaining wall blocks that work well in building your horseshoe pit in place of landscape timbers, which aren’t as durable. StackStone blocks are popular to use since they are smaller, easier to move, and have rounded corners, giving it a more rustic appearance. Flat-face ManorStone has straight sides that can create a more modern look for your horseshoe pit.
  • Once you’ve chosen the type of wall blocks you wish to use, lay one to two layers in a rectangle measuring 36 by 48 inches, the standard horseshoe pit dimensions. On the backside of the rectangle, lay 3-5 more layers of the blocks to create a backboard.
  • After your horseshoe court outline is complete, it’s time to add bags of sand. Sand works well as an inexpensive, readily-obtained fill material. Fill your court halfway with sand so the sand reaches about half the height of the border pavers. Once your sand is in, install your metal stakes and you’re ready to play!


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3. Checkers or Chess

A backyard chess and checker board are the ultimate in outdoor games. Using Vancouver Bay architectural slabs, one can create a board by alternating colors, making it a great focal point in your outdoor living space. Here is how you can build a chess or checkerboard in your backyard using Mutual Materials products:

  • To create your board, first dig out and/or clear the area you wish to build on of grass and other plantings, and put down landscaping fabric to prevent regrowth. If you’re building on an existing patio or paved area, you may be able to lay right over the existing materials.
  • Once you have measured and defined the outlines of your checkerboard area, lay alternating colors of Vancouver Bay slabs. Choose from grays, tans, blacks, and reds.


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Whether you want to play bocce ball, horseshoes or build a chess board, the summer is the perfect time to create memories and enjoy quality time with your family, entertain and enjoy your backyard. If any of your backyard improvement projects call for hardscaping with pavers, retaining wall, or stone, we’re here to help!