Building Your Own Backyard Games

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Playing yard games is not only a fun and inexpensive way for the family to spend some quality time together, but it’s also a great way for the whole gang to get moving and stay fit. Some games can provide serious exercise and show the kids that staying active is more fun than sitting in front of the TV all summer. If you’d like to kick up your family’s backyard entertainment a notch or two, consider building a game together. Always keep safety first; wear adequate eye protection and use a sander to smooth the rough edges of wood or other splintery materials.



At its simplest, Cornhole is a bean-bag tossing game that gained great popularity in the Midwest—hence the name. An easy way to build this game is to cut a round hole in a piece of plywood that’s approximately 2×4-feet and elevate one end of the plywood sheet on a cinder block. To play, stand back and see who can toss the bag through the hole the most times per turn. Of course, you can make a more elaborate and attractive game by building a shallow box, painting it and adding different sized holes to change the skill level.

Pipe Ball

Pipe ball is a combination of horseshoes and skeeball. To make a Pipe Ball set, cut a 10-foot length of 4-inch drain pipe into four 14-inch long pieces, three 11 ½-inch long pieces, two 9-inch long pieces and one 7-inch long pieces, and then cut a 30-degree bevel at one end of each pipe. Spray paint the lengths in different colors and let dry.

Rack the pipes in rows with the shortest in the front and the tallest in the back. Three inches up from the flat end, mark the pipes where they touch each other and drill a ¼-inch hole on the mark. String zip ties through the holes to securely connect all the pipes.

Place the number decals inside the pipe near the top of the angle so the players can see them. Designate the back row as being worth the least amount of points and the give the shortest pipe the greatest value. To play, set the pipes on the lawn and take turns tossing tennis balls into them.

Ladder Golf

Ladder golf requires “bolas” made from a short length of nylon cord with a golf ball attached to each end. The ladder is made from a series of dowels placed in an upright 2×4 which is secured to a T-shaped holder. Simply drill three 1-inch holes, 12 inches apart in a 48-inch tall 2×4. Slide 36-inch long dowels through each of the holes so they are centered on the 2×4. Paint the game in festive colors if desired.

To make the bolas, drill a 1-inch hole through two golf balls, string a 14-inch length of rope through a ball, tie a knot at the end and repeat with the other ball. A set of eight bolas is ideal. The object of the game is to toss the bola toward the ladder and hook it onto to one of the three rungs.

Building your own backyard games will make summertime barbecues and family gatherings even more fun. Don’t be surprised if your house becomes the most popular hangout on the block. The cost of building your own game is considerably less than one afternoon at the putt-putt course and your family will be creating memories that last forever.


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