6. A Place to Play
Let the games begin: Built-in sport courts put turf areas to good use.
From swing sets to tree houses, play areas for young kids have found a place in suburban yards as long as there have been subdivisions. But at-home recreation areas don't have to be limited to children's use or to costly, space-hogging tennis courts and swimming pools. Croquet lawns, putting greens, horseshoe pits, and the like are popping up in more backyards as homeowners strive to build in areas for family and friends to have fun on their home turf.
The Goodwins thought they were putting in the bocce ball court for the benefit of three grown sons who live nearby. "But we go out there all the time with guests, too," says Doris.
A simple bocce court, such as the one shown here, can be assembled in a couple of weekends for about $750: All it takes is enough 2x12s and wooden pegs to make a 12-by-60-foot frame, several tons of gravel for a well-tamped base, and enough stone dust for a 6-inch playing surface. Bocce balls not included.