Bocce ball has blossomed from a little-known game to a popular must-have for at-home players as well as tournament professionals. It’s something like bowling, but played outdoors and on a surface that is not made of hardwood. In fact, artificial turf makes an excellent bocce ball surface, though purists may say you must play on crushed oyster shells.
Choosing Your Bocce Ball Surface
In order for bocce balls to roll freely without obstruction, the court’s surface must be firm and smooth. Your style of play and how often you expect to use the court will determine what type of surface you should install. If you are just playing for practice or fun – typical of most backyard bocce installations – a less expensive surface material will work fine.
On the other hand, if your court will be used for tournament play, you will probably want to spend the extra money for a professional grade material that will afford the best, most uniform play possible. Before making your final decision, you will also want to consider how much time you want to spend on maintenance and the type of preparation that must be done before your court can be installed.
Oyster shell isn’t so common these days, although it is still used by traditionalists. Pulverized oyster shell packs nicely and provides a smooth surface that can be raked and leveled between matches. While it’s nice that you can rake the surface, the truth is you will have to regularly rake, because regular play disturbs the surface. The material also becomes compacted with frequent play, so you may need to add new material as the old breaks down.
Artificial Grass for Bocce Ball
Bocce ball turf made from synthetic grass makes an ideal court surface, much like artificial grass used for backyard putting greens. It looks and feels natural and maintains a constant height. Mowing a natural grass court can leave blades uneven and packed down upon one another. With artificial grass, you get a consistent surface that won’t become matted, even under heavy foot traffic. You won’t have to worry about mowing, watering, or trimming natural grass or repeatedly raking oyster shells to re-smooth the surface.
Bocce ball courts must also be kept as dry as possible in order to perform properly. Short of covering your court with a tarp during a rainstorm, some moisture will be inevitable. The most important thing is to ensure your court is dry by match time. Artificial grass does not hold moisture, and it dries much faster than other surface materials, including oyster shell. With proper professional installation, your court will drain moisture swiftly, without risk of standing water.
When you use artificial grass for your bocce court, you also get a lovely addition to your landscape instead of a long expanse of beige.
So where should you put your bocce court?
Bocce courts are long and narrow. They can vary from 10-13 feet wide and 60-100 feet long. The exact size of your court will depend on the amount of space you have and where in your yard you want to put the court. Do you want it to be a focal point, easily accessible from your back door or deck? Or a visual element that blends more subtly into the rest of your landscaping?
No matter where you decide to locate the court, its primary purpose is social – fun for family and guests. So to complete the installation, consider surrounding it with other hardscapes and furniture, and adding containers of flowers to dress up the perimeter with color and fragrance.