A LAWN IS a
thing in your backyard that needs mowing, weeding, and expensive
fertilizing. A bocce court is a party.
Brewer installs parties.
the San Rafael landscaper behind Boccebrew, has installed 30 or so bocce courts in backyards, parks and wineries in
the past three years. He’s turned a lot of lawns into parties since
the day he discovered bocce in a friend’s backyard five years ago. “Everybody
had a glass of wine and everybody had a good time,” Brewer
is a game in which colored balls are rolled down a flat, rectangular
course. A mixture of lawn bowling and shuffleboard, the bocce players
master strategy and touch to get their four balls as close as possible
to a target ball or “pallino”.
sounds simple, but mastery of the game is elusive, and the social,
talking, bragging fun is endless.
latest court creation was completed at David and Nancy Cherneys’
Novato home last week. The Cherneys were going through a total
remodeling of their house and yard when a landscaper suggested a bocce
court. “We had this long narrow spot, and we were thinking about
putting in a putting green,” David Cherney says.
A round of referrals and calls led them to David and Sandy
Brewer and an invitation to a game in the Brewers’ backyard. The
Cherneys brought their teenage daughter. Everybody got to play on the
“On the way home, we called them, and said, ‘When can
you start,’” David Cherney says.
a typical response, Brewer says.
People like the game because it is social, an “icebreaker,”
a game that anybody can play at any athletic level.
“It’s a very welcoming game,” Nancy Cherney says.
The court can be installed in nearly any yard that is big
enough and can be made flat enough. Brewer, a landscaper contractor,
started with a weed choked patch of land in his own backyard.
"I looked at it and said, 'I'm going to put a bocce court
here," he says.
Brewer, a landscape
contractor, started researching the make up of the courts and has
developed his own design, consisting of 9 inches of materials in four
layers and a drainpipe.
It starts with a layer
of ¾ - inch drain rock.
of that, he spreads a layer of “class II base rock.” Topping that,
he adds a mixture of oyster shell and ground clay. The final layer is an
even layer of finely ground oyster shell. “Everybody has their own
technique, their own system,” Brewer says.
satisfied with his technique. His own court lived through El Nino,
draining evenly when it had 4 inches of standing water. The surface is
soft and sand like and does need to be smoothed out occasionally. “It’s
a lot less maintenance than a putting green,” he says.
cost, installed with wooden side railings runs between $10 and $12 per
square foot. In the case of a 48-foot-by-9-foot court like the Cherneys
have, the construction tab can run as high as $6,000.
he started going commercial three years ago—“I looked on the
Internet and nobody was doing it,” says his wife, Sandy—bocce courts
have grown to 70% of his landscaping business.
will build courts smaller or larger, depending on the size of the
customer’s yard and budget.
built regulation-size (90-foot-by-13-foot) courts for parks and
installed a 70-foot-by-12-foot beauty for a Mill Valley homeowner.
you’re aiming to go professional, a smaller court is fine for most
people. “You can have as much fun or as much competition no matter
what size,” Brewer says.
Cherneys are having fun and they haven’t even moved back into their
home; remodeling is proceeding on all fonts.
neighbor are all excited about it,” Nancy Cherney says.
Cherney is busy perfecting his game. Their teen-age daughter Liza is
playing, too. “Everybody can play and everbody can enjoy it,”
And nobody has to mow it.