When we say court, we mean court, since the surface of a bocce ball court is much like the surface of a tennis court. So we were talking about creating a surface for the court.
The first thing we had to do was determine where on his property we could lay it out. We had two options. The first was using the side of the house. You know the area that no one uses, so you throw some gravel down and let the dogs poop there? Yeah, that side. It sounded good on paper, but bocce requires a wide space (10 to 13 feet) and the side of the house maxed out at four.
We decided that laying it out horizontally, perpendicular to his house at the edge of his property was the way to go. Length-wise, it wasn't quite official, but it was pretty close. But the width was there, which was perhaps even more important. Danny is also a rose freak and he has a number of very mature rose bushes along the edge of his property line. We didn't want to uproot the bushes, so we decided to keep them and do our best to not damage their roots in the process. When it was all said and done, the roses would add an exquisite border on one side.
The official length of a bocce ball court is 79 feet. The official width is the aforementioned 10-13 feet. The first thing we needed to do was rip out a strip of lawn that ran along the rose bushes. Danny's backyard was just about 67 feet, so even though it wasn't the official length, it was fine. We decided to go with the 10 foot width.
Once we ripped up the lawn, we graded and flattened it out, using a roller. We needed it to be really level and using a level, we got it straight and true.
The court needs to be similar to standard tennis courts with a minimum 3 inch base of crushed stone on a compacted sub-base and then covered with 2 inches minimum of clay type materials compacted for a hard, smooth, level surface. The top surface must be kept as level as possible and kept treated with a fine grade of loose topping clay that can be brushed to smooth the court.
Keeping the clay conditioned and compact is essential. A continuous watering system under the clay surface (like good tennis courts have) is preferred. Drain holes must be provided to prevent standing water on the court. Bocce court contractors are hard to find, however, tennis court contractors are more plentiful and can easily do excellent bocce courts.
We decided to call in "Roger The Dodger" the one guy who has put in every private tennis court in a 100 mile radius. He installed a water system that could keep the clay compact. He did such a great job that we let him install the rest as well.
We then built the boards. They need to extend 6 to 12 inches above the playing surface. We used rigid, treated lumber two inches thick. We backed them with 4x4 posts that were spaced four feet apart (you can also use concrete). The sideboards have to be supported or have a hard plastic/rubber bumper along them so that a ball hitting the sideboards at an angle greater than 30 degrees will consistently bank off the sideboards.
Once we installed them, we painted the appropriate lines, brought in some killer solar path lights (ten of ‘em) and spaced them six feet apart. We added four solar post lamps as well and voila! Night bocce.
Danny picked up a sweet ball rack on E-Bay. And he got some balls in the deal as well. He's been having a ball ever since.