Washington's Largest One-Day Bocce Tournament
Saturday, April 21st, 9 AM - 4 PM at the Bellingham Sportsplex - All proceeds benefit the WDRC. Beer Garden, Bounce Houses, Free Face Painting, Salmon BBQ, Raffles, and More! Admission is Free. Salmon BBQ is $10 each.
After fielding 5 to 20 inquiries about bocce court construction per day, 7 days a week for the past dozen years, I feel the right to weigh in on some things. When I set out in 2001 to build a recreational bocce court there were few resources and those were regionally specific. We have oyster farms in Washington State, and I thought from what I read that oyster shell would make a good component in my surface. Turns out the last person to build an oyster shell court from scratch died about 200 years ago and didn’t leave notes. Resources like the US Bocce Federation; The Joy of Bocce; David Brewer; and Playaboule were the most helpful. In recent years great players from our US Bocce Team like Michael Grasser and Benji Tosi have created sites. Mario “Striker” Pagnoni has completed the 4th edition of his “must have for every bocce player” book the Joy of Bocce. The DIY network has filmed several episodes on various ways to construct a bocce court.
Boccemon on Bocce Courts
It has been said that of the people who play bocce in this country, 90% play either on a beach or a lawn. That being said if one wants to include people from all abilities and ages in the game a court is the best venue to do this. Once the decision has been made to build a court the budget should start with the surface. All the rest can be done cheaper with less impact on the overall enjoyment of the game. The surfaces are listed in order from the most expensive to least expensive.
I am not big on synthetic anything. It’s not my thing. I know that Del Web has built many synthetic "bent grass" courts. In most environments, they need replacing about every 7 or 8 years. If you choose this option, however, don’t install it in a shady area as moss will cause you to replace it quicker than destruction by UV rays. When Campo di Bocce opened a second location in Livermore, CA they shifted to a new self-leveling “rubber-like” material. Now the Palazzo di Bocce in Orion, MI; the Italian-American Athletic Club, of Stockton, CA, the Marin Bocce Federation of San Rafael, CA, the Italia America Bocce Club of St. Louis, MO, and Pinstripes, which has locations in Northbrook and South Barrington, IL, are using this same surface concept. It does very well indoors. This surface is mostly for restaurants or indoor venues, used for Punta-Raffa-Volo. It is expensive, but virtually maintenance free. This surface is very fast and more for the sport of bocce than recreation.
There is a ton of information on building an oyster shell court but little contributed by people with actual trade skills or bocce experience. The main reason an “oyster court” is low maintenance is due to the small particle size. It is much easier to fix court defects with fine oyster particles than with grit like decomposed granite, infield clay, or even stone fines for that matter. A well-blended oyster shell court can self-level in heavy rains eliminating the need to do anything but play on many days in many parts of the world.
Watch this video clip showing what we consider a worse case scenario maintenance. We restored the court in less than 10 minutes. Most weeks we spend less than 5 minutes to keep our court ready for play. The beauty of a Boccemon oyster court is that it can play fast or slow by adding or denying water. Besides playability people love that there is significantly less maintenance with Rain Country Blend. The old style California oyster courts required court owners to have a ready supply of oyster flour on hand for frequent reapplication. That just isn’t practical in most parts of the country and besides… …where does the stuff go? One of the first large-scale “pay to play” public venues in the United States came in the form of 8 oyster shell courts at the Campo di Bocce in Los Gatos, California. We have helped thousands of people seeking information about bocce court construction around the country.
Clay is a premium surface when kept in level condition. However, it really was meant for lighter balls, not 2 lbs bocce balls. Personally, I believe these are great for clubs with a maintenance staff but not so much for recreational backyard courts. There are 4 clay courts in Vancouver B.C. that are immaculate and a privilege to play on. We were informed the volunteer spends between 20 and 30 hours a week to keep them playable for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday use. For that, I would rather have a Zen Garden and play bocce at the neighbors.
For bocce court tools - no company compares with the quality and value of the Lee Tennis products which we feel honored to be able to supply our clients. Rollers – Get a steel one rather than plastic if you get one at all. Most of the tools we list on our website are competitively priced. The roller you might want to search the Internet for. Many court owners build their own tools. Some are very intent on a level court, like this retirees:
If you're going to own bocce balls, they should be Italian-made. For a further understanding of how we came to this opinion, consider these experiments by Bede Kortegast of Playaboule. Jason Del Vicario, of Bocce.ca, also sells Perfetta bocce balls, shipping out of Vancouver, B.C.
This Bocce Court & Horseshoe Pit installation is our featured project of the month, and this family-operated winery at Dancing Apache Ranch wanted activity/game play features for a special events wine tasting room, as well as one for a more private “family” gathering space. Their choices were bocce & horseshoes, and we couldn’t have been happier to create this for them!
We first had to meet with the client to select the location for each amenity, and after a little brainstorming and checking out our other bocce & horseshoe courts online, we think we nailed it…the bocce court selection was directly adjacent to this cool outdoor tasting room. The view from the bocce court is the barn-converted tasting room on one side, and the vineyards on the other….PERFECT!
If that wasn’t enough, we also installed new matching-themed landscape lighting with bronze fixtures and a programmable timer. Now the competition starts with wine and goes on into the dark…
Next came the locale for the family horseshoe pits, and the natural spot was right next to the most popular family gathering area. Where you ask?...why, the kitchen / outdoor dining ramada of course! This added sports amenity really brings the family together, both young and old, and the simple style ties that ranch theme destination together full circle. With a little sod removal and some grading, this completed install was a total ringer, with everybody a winner.
Adding sports amenities to gathering spaces is a great way to bring family and friends together. From the bocce court at the tasting room to the horseshoe pits at the Ramada, the installation of these two activities included all the finishing touches. One look at the bocce court proves why we are the top bocce court builder in Arizona!
As with every project, we provided our “like it was my house” service.
Moss is found in most environments where the ground is tightly compacted, moist, and shady for a couple weeks or more. The issue is not that it occurs but how you deal with it. Here is a worst case type scenario where a court was left all winter without balancing the PH. The court didn’t see direct sunlight for 5 months of Fall and Winter of 2010 and it is quite damp
Moss is going to grow in high alkaline environments. If you want to get rid of the moss then you need to change the ph of your court. Whatever you do – “DO NOT TRY TO SCRAPE THE MOSS OFF!" If you try to physically remove the moss it’s roots may hold tight and lift pockets of your surface (like in the image below) and you will lose that material. Depending on the amount of buildup (depth of moss) you may start with a SHARP square nosed shovel. This technique can be used on thicker growth. If you can -”cut” the moss that is above the surface and remove it without pulling up the roots – Do it!
Note that in this image the moss constitutes only about a third of the height of this plug. The other two-thirds is surface material which is held together by the moss roots. Replacing this is inconvenient and more costly than moss retardant. The court will need to be treated two to three times annually for best results. Note that any natural surface subject to similar conditions will develop this growth if allowed to propagate. DON’T LET IT! Simple as that. If there's no excess ground moisture, moss won't be an issue.
At this point, there are several ways to treat moss. One is:
- One part household bleach and two parts of water in a pump sprayer.
Another I have recently heard works well (have not tried yet) is:
- 1 gallon Vinegar
- 2 cups Epson Salt
- ¼ cup of Dawn Dish soap (not sure why Dawn)
- Put in a pump sprayer and apply early after the morning dew has dried up.
Moss hates being trampled or otherwise agitated. I have found that while most algaecides kill moss they also convert it to fertilizer which feeds the next bloom. Since we started looking for the best solution we have yet to find anything that works better than a steel bristled broom. The costs are high for this type of tool for most residential courts so consider this... Magnolia Brush sells a Carbon Steel Wire Deck Brush (minimum size to buy would be 12") for about $17. Just walk up and down the court dragging the brush. No need to use it like a push broom just drag it. Your moss will hate you for it.
If your issue is grass or weed growth, a brush torch can be a very effective tool. The bocce court will play much better if organic vegetative “clumps” are incinerated. This should only be necessary if grasses or mature weeds are allowed to establish. None of us like to be neglected and this is how your bocce court expresses itself when left alone. Fight vegetative growth by using your court more frequently.
Once the moss has been reduced or eliminated scrape up ¼” or so of surface and massage it through a 1/8” hardware cloth. (wire mesh). By screening, you will produce a fluff that can be reapplied to the court.
Once screened, reapply the material to your court, removing that which does not pass through the screen. I like to zigzag the court with my broom before dragging straight down from each end.
In order to smooth court, we recommend that you finish with a light spray from a fine nozzle or a good rain.