Tag Archives: sports

Made by mom: A DIY paver stone basketball court

The answer is “Yes!”

A well-meaning mom with no experience can build a basketball area in the backyard for her kids using paver stones.DIY paver stone backyard basketball court - AMerryMom.com

As the mom of two boys, I spend a lot of time on sports-related things.  I really never thought I’d build a small basketball court in the backyard for them, but a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!

When we moved to our house, it had a lot going for it.  What it didn’t have was a place for my boys to play basketball.  And they love to shoot basketball.

Since our driveway slopes down to the street in the front, the backyard was the only option for a basketball goal.  Some friends from church gave us an almost-new goal after their daughter left for college.  The kids were happy to have it, but it’s hard to dribble on grass!

We debated a solution for a while.  Pouring a concrete basketball court would be a big investment.  My husband was busy at work and didn’t have time to take on a DIY project.

Finally I decided I could build a basketball area myself by laying paver stones that would connect to the existing covered patio.  My hubby thought I was crazy for volunteering for that job, but I finally I convinced him I should give it a try.

After he agreed, I started clearing the sod from the area.  I recruited the kids to help some.  It was a good arm workout for all of us!  I thought that would come in handy for lifting the 16-inch square paver stones and setting them into place.

Little did I know how much more arm strength I really needed!  My trip to Home Depot to buy the materials made me realize that I needed a new deal with my hubby: if he would buy all of the paver stones and sand for the underlayment and transport them to the backyard, I would do the rest.

He was sure I would be asking for more help and he would be spending all of his time off work laying pavers for me, but I was determined to get that part of the project done all by myself.  Somehow I made it happen!DIY basketball court from paver stones - AMerryMom.comI’m not gonna lie.  It was hard work, and it took me a long time to get it done.  The project did not follow the fast pace of some of the done-in-a-weekend tutorials I had read.  (If you need a full how-to tutorial for installing paver stones, I liked the ones at The Handmade Home, Better Homes and Gardens, and Lowes.  Yep, I read a bunch of tutorials before I got started.)

To complete my project, I worked on it a little at a time for weeks.  I worked carefully to make sure the base sand under the pavers was really smooth so the pavers would lay flat. 

Besides the physical weight of the pavers, my biggest challenge was getting the sand layer smoothed out just right so the court was totally flat.  I definitely didn’t want anyone tripping over the stones!

I finally finished laying the stones and sweeping sand between them before the cold weather arrived last fall.  When I got that last paver done, I was a very merry mom!  

The last stone was hard to install with stones on two sides and the edge forms on the other two sides. I had to kinda drop it in, which messed up the sand layer on my first few attempts.  I had to re-level the sand and try again until finally I got it in right.  Whew!  Getting everything level was a lot harder for me than it sounded before I started on this little endeavor.

I did a happy dance that it was all done!  Then I couldn’t wait to usher my kids outside to try it out when they got home from school that day.  They were thrilled to squeeze in some basketball time in the backyard when it wasn’t too cold.

As much as I wanted to show off my little basketball court, I didn’t post anything about it here last fall.  Since my work was not a by-the-book installation, I wasn’t sure it would hold up.  I thought the cold weather might make the stones heave up out of place over the winter.

Now that spring has arrived after our especially cold, harsh winter, I’m happy to report that the basketball area made it through the last five months intact!  My boys have been playing basketball on it all spring.

Today I’m finally declaring success building a DIY backyard basketball court from paver stones.  And if I can do it, anyone can!  :)

2016 update – A few people have asked if the pavers are holding up well over time since I originally installed them.  The answer is yes!  After going through a few winters with freezing and thawing, the pavers are still looking good.  We have to do some weed control between the pavers from time to time, but this basketball court has been maintenance free otherwise.  We did have to buy a new basketball goal, because our original, free goal rusted.  We bought the Lifetime 1221 pro-height adjustable basketball system from Amazon (affiliate link) and have been very happy with it.  It came with free home delivery, which was handy.  The setup took some time, but it’s a nice goal.

Space planning details for our DIY backyard basketball court

Due to the space constraints in our yard, I loosely based our basketball area on a free throw lane. It’s 16 feet long and 8 feet wide.

My reasoning was that the NCAA free throw line is 15 feet from the backboard, so making our court 16 feet long gave us a foot of space for standing to shoot free throws. That worked out to exactly 12 of the 16″ paver stones for the length of the basketball court. I added a border of single bricks around the paver stones to make the final size correspond to our existing covered patio space – and to gain a little more room for standing to shoot free throws.DIY backyard basketball court - 3 points for success - AMerryMom.com

Although the regulation free throw lane is 12 feet wide, our court is just 8 feet wide.

For us, the size decisions were based on space and budget. With this size, my kids can practice free throws, layups, and inside shots.

Our basketball court definitely would be better if it was large enough to give my kids room to practice 3-point shots, but I keep reminding them (and myself) that it’s better than nothing!

You could really make a court any size that works for your yard.  I measured and sketched our backyard basketball court on paper with a couple of size options, then marked it off in the yard before getting started.

Using 16″ square paver stones, I needed 72 pavers for our court (6 rows of 12).  I used 16-inch square paver stones with a brick basketweave pattern stamped onto them. 

Before buying the basketweave-patterned paver stones, I checked to make sure the basketball would bounce OK on it – and it does.  The brick lines in the pavers don’t seem to affect the bounce of the basketball at all.

DIY paver stone basketball court

Are you planning a paver stone basketball court in your own yard?  I’d love to hear about your DIY project!

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Five ways to embrace sports and bond with your boys - AMerryMom.com

Embracing sports to bond with my guys

My husband and two boys love sports. They play, they watch, and they talk sports. And because the various sports seasons overlap, my daughter and I have learned to accept the fact that sports are part of our lives all year long.

At some point, I started to feel left out by all the sports focus in our house. I know there other moms who have been there!

I had been a very casual sports observer. Sports were always a part of my life to some extent, since that seemed to be how I bonded with my dad growing up. We cheered for the same college basketball team, played “horse” on the basketball hoop in our backyard, and went to professional baseball games when I was little. I even played softball for a few summers in elementary school.

After I grew up and got married, I didn’t pay much attention to sports. I think I watched with my hubby some and we even went to a few games, but I really couldn’t muster much interest. Then we had two boys. My husband was thrilled to have some fellow sports fans in the house.

When my oldest son – and then my youngest son – became so absorbed with sports, I realized I wanted to share more in the things that interested them. I also realized I had been missing out on the opportunity to connect more with my husband by sharing his interest with him.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!

I decided that I needed to make more of an effort to embrace sports alongside my husband and boys. These are my top five ways to engage with the sports culture in my home.

1. Be his #1 fan.

This one seemed obvious: if he’s playing, I show up and cheer. Easy.

Except in our society, it’s not always that simple. Guys often feel defined by their sports accomplishments. I had to think about things like how do I respond when he had a bad game and gets discouraged? Or when one son has more natural athletic ability than the other?

As moms, we need to know how to support our boys no matter how well they do at a sport. Whether a boy is the star of the team, warms the bench, doesn’t make the team, or doesn’t try out, he wants to know mom is in his corner.

That doesn’t mean inflating his ego or offering false flattery. It just means recognizing his abilities and encouraging him to do his personal best. When he’s playing on a team, it means supporting the work he does to practice, improve, and contribute to the team – letting him know you’re proud of his effort and commitment.

2. Learn the game so you can talk about it.

If your child loves a sport, he’ll want to talk about it with you. It’s worth a little time investment to learn enough to carry on the conversation.

I’ve surprised some of my son’s and husband’s friends by talking with them about sports. They didn’t expect me to know much about a sport or a team. I realized that many women are missing out on the chance to connect with their guys through sports conversations – just as I had missed out in the past.

My hubby was happy to teach me more about sports so we could enjoy them together. I really had a hard time understanding football and being interested in it, though. After he had reluctantly joined a fantasy football league and then found that it was a fun way to follow the football season, he suggested that I join the next year. He was right: by playing fantasy football I felt much more invested in football, and my guys all loved that I could have a genuine conversation with them about football!

3. Pick a favorite team to cheer together.

There’s something about sporting events that brings people together. You feel a sense of camaraderie when you’re cheering for the same team.

I’ve found that it’s much more fun to support the same team than to be a house divided. This can be tricky, though when kids decide to go their own way on picking a favorite team for one or more sports.

My oldest son started watching football in 2007, the year the New England Patriots had an undefeated season going into the Super Bowl. He jumped on the Patriots bandwagon back then and has remained a Patriots fan while the rest of us root for the local team.

That’s OK. We’re in agreement on our other teams. We just have to deal with a little trash talk among the guys when our NFL teams face off. That’s one part of the sports scene I still dislike, so I’m glad they don’t play each other often!

4. Celebrate the big games.

Buy snacks, host a party, let them stay up late. Personally, I think the big games get really over-hyped, but they’re important to my husband and sons. It’s fun to make them into an occasion they really enjoy and remember!

5. Get out and play.

This one may be the hardest for many moms, whether it’s because of time constraints, lack of ability, or because dad usually does it. Even though it’s not my favorite thing to do, my boys think it’s fun (and sometimes funny) when I go out and shoot the basketball with them for a few minutes, pass the football, play catch with the baseball, or try to score a soccer goal against them.

Maybe it’s because they like to laugh at how bad I am at their sports. But I think it’s just because it shows that I’m willing to spend time with them and be involved with the things they enjoy. I treat this like vacations – I don’t do it too often, but it makes for fun memories!

Do you get out and play sports with your boys?  How do you cope with your own kids’ sports obsession?