Turn up the heat on your summer with a little friendly competition in the backyard
Credit: Flickr/Dorothy Moerlein

Turn up the heat on your summer with a little friendly competition in the backyard

Picture this – a gorgeous sunny weekend, a tall cool drink in hand (a refreshing twist on old-fashioned lemonade, perhaps?), friends and family gathered on the deck or at the beach, enjoying the languid weather. What could be more perfect? Until everyone starts to get a little bored...that is.

That's when you whip out a few rollickin’ old-fashioned lawn games to get everyone laughing and having a good time. Whether for pure fun or playful competition, these lawn and beach classics will turn any gathering into an event worth remembering.

Bocce Ball
Credit: Flickr/jmayer1129

Bocce Ball

Bocce Ball, which originated in Italy, is a lawn bowling game. If you want to see it first hand, you can usually find Italian elders playing the game in Victoria Park off Commercial Drive.

It is typically played on a gravel or asphalt court about 16 feet long, but grass lawns work almost as well. One team throws the smaller ball – the “jack” or “boccino” – about halfway down the court. Each player or team has four larger balls they take turns throwing in an attempt to get their balls closest to the jack.

Bocce Ball Set, Canadian Tire, $69.99

Petanque
Credit: Flickr/wallyg

Petanque

Petanque is Bocce’s famous French cousin. Similar in style and form, this version of the game is played with a little wooden ball called a “cochonnet” (try saying that in your best French accent!) Every player or team gets a turn throwing their coloured balls closest to the cochonnet.

Things may get competitive once the cold drinks start flowing and Uncle Jim covertly knocks Aunt Susie’s ball out in an attempt to improve his own position. Just a warning!

Swiftflyte Petanque Set, Cosco, $38.99

Croquet
Credit: Flickr/Delaina Haslam

Croquet

Croquet brings a little British culture into your backyard. The game consists of little metal brackets set up in a linear course of your own design. Each player gets a wooden mallet and a set of coloured balls with the goal of hitting the balls through each bracket to reach the end of the course.

It’s a little more difficult than it sounds, especially if the course has unexpected bumps and curves. Liken it to a classier version of mini-golf.

Croquet Sets, ToysRUs, $19.98 and up

Cornhole
Credit: Flickr/dalydose

Cornhole

Cornhole is an undiscovered gem here up north. Born in the Midwest, this game was originally played by Native Americans who filled pigs bladders with dried beans and tossed them for entertainment.

Today, thankfully, it's a little less messy. Cornhole consists of two boards with pre-drilled holes about 6" in diameter. The boards are set up directly opposing one another about 25 feet apart. Each player stands beside their board with four bags filled with dried corn and attempts to toss them into the hole of the opposite board. Simple, yet oodles of fun, this one is kid-friendly and a great workout for those biceps!

Cornhole Sets, Amazon.com, prices vary

Frisbee Golf
Credit: Flickr/clarkmackey

Frisbee Golf

Frisbee is, of course, the perfect beach game, and its newest incarnation, Frisbee golf ("disc golf" for purists, "frolf" for jokers), makes for a great backyard version that will get the whole crew comparing their discs and working on their shots.

A small investment in a disc golf basket can provide a great target, with the goal being to simply land the Frisbee in the basket (harder than it sounds!) You can also circumvent the expense by simply tying a tree - or some other highly visible stationary object out of the way of humans - with coloured tape to use as a target.

5 Backyard Lawn Games