Do You Need A Flat Lawn for Croquet?

Croquet is one of the most popular backyard games. It is fun for players of all ages and designed to bring families together. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that your backyard is not a tournament croquet court. 

When it comes to setting the field, the main question is whether or not you need a flat lawn for croquet. 

In short, you don’t. Although croquet is best played on even ground and shortly mowed grass, you can also play the game on other surfaces, uneven terrains, and even on slopes. The beauty of backyard croquet is that it leaves space for imagination, allowing you to set up an entry-level, regulation, or difficult course.

What surface do you play croquet on?

Traditionally, croquet is played on grass. Short turf and even terrains are preferred, especially if you want to learn to play the game professionally. 

If you don’t care about rules and regulations but only about fun, you can play croquet on whatever surface you like. 

What is the best surface for croquet?

Defining the best surface for croquet is difficult. In the end, it all comes down to your needs and preference. 

Do you want to learn croquet professionally or only play for fun? 

What type of grass do you have in your backyard? 

If you don’t have grass at all, what type of terrain do you have? 

Do you like challenges or want to play an easy game?

The answers to the questions above can help you decide what surface is best for you. There are several options you can choose from. 

Natural Grass

Grass is the traditional surface for croquet. Even though the game was probably played on dirt when it was first invented back in the thirteenth century’s France, the posh Englishmen transformed croquet into a traditional garden game in the seventeenth century. 

While the game rules and court set up changed over time, grass remained the preferred surface.

Since most American homes have a front or backyard lawn, playing croquet on grass shouldn’t be a problem. If your terrain is even or only has a slight slope, mow the grass as short as possible (paying attention not to mow it too low, depending on the type of grass you have). 

Short grass allows the ball to roll freely, making passing it through the wickets and score points easier. 

Tall grass slows down the ball, but leaving it taller could be advantageous when playing on sloped terrain. You may also want to leave the grass taller if you want to add some extra challenge to the game – especially when all players are adults.

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf is an excellent grass replacement and works particularly well in paved backyards. However, there are a few things to know before heading to the store to buy some. 

Short artificial turf is generally frustrating to play on. Unlike grass, artificial turf poses little to no resistance when the ball rolls. That’s why you should choose a type of artificial grass with longer infills, even if it is more expensive than basic turf.

The type of equipment you use is also different. Look for croquet game sets designed for artificial grass or indoor play. These sets have wickets, stakes, and flags installed on weighted supports or feature widened ends that you can bury in the turf infill without puncturing the fabric backing.

In addition to the game set choice, also consider the turf installation. Turf rolls are easy to stretch along the yard, but you might have to use an adhesive to keep them in place. Artificial turf tiles are generally more expensive than turf rolls, but they are more solid and stable on the substrate.

When choosing the turf type, also consider your terrain. Turf tiles work best on even terrains and paved surfaces, whereas turf rolls can adapt to the relief.

Dirt

Originally, croquet used to be played on dirt. Courts were generally set on even dirt expanses with few or no obstacles in sight. 

That said, you can play croquet on dirt no matter what the terrain looks like. In fact, obstacles such as small pebbles, roots, sparse vegetation, boulders, and furrows can add a unique set of challenges to your game

When camping, playing on dirt might be preferred, especially if the terrain is even and scattered with tall grass patches or overgrown vegetation. Use a regular garden croquet set for dirt playing.

Sand 

Unlike dirt, sand is soft and deformable, but that’s what makes it a good choice for those who like a challenge. 

If playing on sand is more of an obligatory choice (such as playing croquet during a seaside vacation), you should set the court near the edge of the water in an area with hard-packed sand. The court should be as free of seaweed and driftwood as possible. 

Such an area is a perfect choice for a standard backyard croquet set. 

If you want to play on dry sand, use the croquet set style recommended for artificial turf. Although you can puncture the sand all you want, dry sand might not be strong enough to hold the stakes, wickets, and flags upright. 

Rocky Terrain 

Playing croquet on rocky terrain is uncommon but not unheard of. This terrain choice is popular among proficient players who want to add some challenge to the game.

Because large rocks can stop the ball, you should choose a rocky patch scattered with smaller rocks or pebbles rather than boulders. The type of croquet set you should use depends on how hard the terrain is.

Can you play croquet on a sloped lawn?

Croquet isn’t traditionally played on sloped lawns, but nothing stops you from setting up a court on uneven ground.

The secret to playing croquet on a sloped lawn is a taller mowing of the grass. Taller grass blades can slow down the ball and stop it from rolling too far down the hill. Setting obstacles along the court edges, such as boulders, sand bags, or tree limbs, can also make the game less frustrating. 

No matter where you decide to set the court, remember that croquet is an adaptable game that you can play anywhere. So no, you don’t need a flat lawn for croquet.