DIY a Backyard Checker and Chess Board

A life-sized backyard chess board in a backyard.
What You'll Need
Measuring tape
64 pavers (two different colors)
Chalk line
Gravel base
Fine sand
Compactor (rented)

Outdoor checkers or chess could be a way to get the kids off the video games and outside in the fresh air. Even adults like to play outside, and what better way than with an old fashioned game of checkers?

Preparation of the Site

Step 1 - Measure an 8’ by 8’ area (if your pavers are 12” square). Place stakes in each corner and use twine or string wrapped around the stakes to keep the digging lines straight.

Step 2 - Slope the area slightly away from any buildings so that rain or water hitting the area will run off the pavers. In order to make it level and have a good base for the pavers, dig into the ground to the height of the pavers, plus 4 ½ inches. As always, check for any underground utilities before digging.

Step 3 - Dig out the entire area. Pour the gravel to at least a 4-inch depth. Spray the area down with water to get the gravel to settle and then compact the gravel with a rented compactor (sometimes called a plate compactor). Next, add a ½ inch layer of fine sand on top of the gravel. Make sure the sand layer is smooth because this is the layer the pavers will lay on and you want them to be even.

Laying the Pavers

Step 4 - Pick one corner and start laying your pavers. Alternate each color: one light, one dark, one light, etc. Get the pavers as close to each other as possible. Check the level of each paver as you place it on the sand. You may have to add or remove some sand to make it level with itself and with the paver next to it.

Finishing Touches

Step 5 - To finish off your project, spread some fine sand on the top of the pavers. Sweep the sand into all the crevices. This prevents the pavers from moving and helps reduce weed growth between them.

Finding Playing Pieces

There are a couple ways to make your own playing pieces. For checkers, you simply need 24 objects, 12 of each color. Frisbees work well!

Chess pieces are more of a challenge to make. You will need 32 pieces (16 for each player). One idea is to print the chess images off your computer and glue them to buckets. For each player you need 2 rooks, 8 pawns, 2 bishops, 1 queen, 1 king, and 2 knights.

If homemade is not your thing, there are several sites where you can purchase giant size playing pieces for either game.