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The Best in Backyard Games


June 2014

Written by
Emma Wilson


Backyard gamesOnce summer rolls around and the sun decides to show its face for a while, everyone tries to maximize time outside. Turning your backyard into an outdoor living room means more than just setting out a few lawn chairs and a grill, though, and “fun in the sun” means more than just throwing the ol’ pigskin around. We’ve gathered up a collection of some classic, quirky and do-it-yourself backyard games to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sunshine time.

Corn Hole

Summer may not be football season, but that’s no reason to forget to set up this tailgating favorite out back. The setup is simple: two angled wooden platforms, each with a six–inch hole, and two sets of four beanbags, each set a different color. The two teams compete to tally the most points by tossing the bags at the platforms, earning three points for sinking the bag in the hole and one for landing the bag on the platform. Basically, it’s about as easy as it gets and fun for all ages. The best part of corn hole? You’ll always have one hand free for a refreshing drink to beat the heat.

Ladder Golf

Slightly more difficult than Corn Hole, the rules of Ladder Golf are fairly similar, just with different equipment. According to the official Ladder Golf rules, players toss bolas, “two golf balls attached together with a piece of nylon” at a three-rung “ladder.” The top rung is worth three points; the middle, two; and the bottom, one. Players can either aim for the rungs or knock off other players’ bolas—and it’s all part of the fun to try and distract the player who’s tossing. While you can purchase a Ladder Golf course online, they’re also easy to DIY with some PVC pipe, golf balls, and nylon string, so you can customize your course to Augusta standards. 

Crazy Croquet

Speaking of customizing courses—that’s what Crazy Croquet is all about. Take some of the pomp out of this classic British game by turning your backyard into a mini-golf-style croquet court. Just find what’s lying around and add a few hazards in the way of the wickets. Bricks, boards, baby pools and more can serve as obstacles. Half the fun of Crazy Croquet is just putting the course together! Then, break out the mallets and give it a go—Will and Kate will be jealous!


Ready to bring a little Euro chic to your backyard? Just string up a few café lights and bring out the bocce. The rules of the game are easy enough: two teams of up to four players compete to get their balls closest to the “jack,” a smaller ball that serves as a marker. The real fun lies in the strategy and skill, though. Sometimes it’s best to move the other team’s balls farther from the jack; other times it’s best to move the jack closer to your team’s balls. All you need is a bocce set and a bordered-in court, and you’ll be on your way to having a blast with such a simple game.

Backyard Board Games

Sure, we’ve all heard of giant outdoor chess, but what about taking other games off the board and into the backyard? With just a little DIY work, living room favorites like Scrabble, dominoes and Jenga are guaranteed to be hits at your next garden party. For Scrabble, just paint the letters and points onto wooden tiles. If you want those “double word” scores, you can turn your deck or patio into a board. Otherwise, you’re ready to go. Dominoes are even easier: just paint the dots onto wood or cardboard rectangles and get to playing. Jenga is probably the easiest game to translate outdoors. All you have to do is cut two-by-fours into 60 equal pieces (a home improvement store will do this for you in a flash), then sand them and start stacking! 

There are a ton of ways to get the most out of your backyard time; we hope these ideas will get you started. Just remember to put on that sunscreen and drink plenty of water! 

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