Lawn Games

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Lawn Games

Lawn Games
You spend a great deal of time and money making your yard the envy of the neighborhood, but do you ever really get to enjoy it? Do you dream of spending more time outdoors with family and friends with no electronic devices in sight? Tempt everyone outside with lawn games. A few are described here to get you started, and a computer search will reveal many more. Let’s play!

Cornhole
People of all ages enjoy this traditional beanbag throwing game. You can find boards for sale online, or make your own for a fun DIY project. To play, place boards 27 feet apart, making sure they are stable and don’t wobble when a player makes a throw.

Competitors start with four beanbags. They stand beside one board, pitching each beanbag in an attempt to get it through the hole of the far board. A bag through the hole earns three points, while a bag that remains on the surface, called a “woody,” is worth one point. Simply alternate throws between players, and when all bags are out, count points. At 21 points, you win!

Turf Tip: Concentrated foot traffic in the same area is hard on your grass and will stress and eventually even kill the plants. If your family loves to play, move the boards to a different part of the lawn each time you set up to avoid bare spots. Avoid play on tender sprouts of newly laid sod or freshly seeded lawns. Also, never play on drought-stressed grass.

Yardzee and Giant Jenga
These two lawn games take the well-known tabletop games to gargantuan proportions. Both are readily available at stores, but could also be made by hand from online instructions.  If you remember Yahtzee, you can play Yardzee, but instead of shaking the dice all at once, players roll each four-inch die onto the grass until all five are out. Scorecards are laminated and reusable.

Giant Jenga is simply Jenga on steroids. The pillar of wood blocks is stacked, and each player in turn selects a potentially removable piece, sliding it gingerly from the stack and then placing it atop the tower. When the tower starts to wobble, step back —  this one can get to be almost five feet high. See how tall your family can stack it before it falls!

Turf Tip: If your family loves to play in the yard, and you are in the market for sod, Zoysia and Bermuda are two of the heartiest grass varieties. Both create dense lawns that stand up well to heavier foot traffic.

Croquet
This oldie but goodie is making a comeback, perfect for family togetherness or a neighborhood tournament on the lawn. The game requires a set of wooden balls and mallets with wire hoops, called wickets, and two end stakes. Check out yard sales for used sets, or buy a new set from any big box store.

The playing court for croquet can be any relatively level and recently mowed lawn. If you have a small yard, simply adjust the distances between wickets to fit your lawn space. Setup and rules of play are too involved for this post, but generally players swing the mallets between their feet to hit the ball forward, taking turns threading their way through the wickets from one end of the court to the other, finally hitting the end post.  

Turf Tip: Heavy foot traffic compacts the soil underneath your lawn, making it difficult for your grass to access the air, water and nutrients it needs. If your family plays hard in your yard, or if you have clay soil, aerate each spring and fall. Rent an aerator and then rake half of an inch of fine compost across the affected areas to keep your grass happy.

Whether you spend quality time playing Yardzee with the kiddos or host a neighborhood gathering for cocktails and croquet, it’s definitely time to head out to the yard and play!