Building a Petanque Court in SE England

By Mr.Bordsenius at 2012-08-29

Having talked about it for years (especially during games in French holiday villas), I finally decided it was time for action and set about my own construction.

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I found it quite hard to get to the bottom of all the bits of advice on the internet (and translating global building terms to things people in the UK understood) – how many tonnes of what to fill how big a hole etc... So, having completed the job, I thought I would share the experience with others – it may be useful.


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1.) Size – I went for roughly 14 meters long and 5 wide at the ends (4 wide in the middle) – I went for a curved design on one side to make it more aesthetic in the garden – overall 63m sq. Final length was dictated by size of railway sleepers (2.4M) without cutting them (6 sleepers long by 2 wide)

2.) “Don’t dig it yourself” was good advice, so I hired a man with a digger to go down 6 inches of topsoil (We dumped this on my land too, which saved costs – a lorry to take away 35 tonnes of topsoil would have been more than the man with the JCB!)

3.) I put Railway sleepers around the edge

4.) Next up was 20 tonnes of sub base type 1 (big bits of gravel). I did consider hardcore, but the advice was really that you spend so much time crushing it, you might as well skip this step and just get the sub base. It’s around 20 GBP a tonne

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5.) This was compacted down. The digging, dumping hard core and crushing was done in just over half a day, by a man with all the kit.

6.) Then for the topping – this is where it was hard to figure out what to do. It seems like the best stuff is self binding gravel (6mm to dust). To add complications to this, I wanted a yellow top, like the gravel paths in Richmond Park. This turned out to be an expensive ‘want’, but I did find a cheaper alternative... If you want the good self-binding gravel, its about 120 – 150 GBP a tonne and I needed about 6-7 tonnes.. that seemed like a lot of money for a petanque court. I tracked down 3 main suppliers in the UK (Cedec ‘Gold Gravel, made by CED, Grundon ‘Coxwel path gravel’, Breedon ‘Golden Amber’).. anyway, quite expensive so I found some 6mm to dust granite gravel at about 35 GBP (its grey colour) ... I got 4 tonnes, which is enough to cover and I plan to add 2 more of the Cedec when I am feeling flush.. in the meantime its playable with just the 4 tonnes of 6mm – dust granite.

7.) This was all hand raked around to be level, then compacted down... at this point we were ready to play.. nice. To this point has cost 1150 GBP

8.) I then added a flower bed around the side and back and a patio at one end, but clearly these are optional extras. Overall very pleased with the result and it plays well

I am sure there may be better ways/materials but I think this was quite a cost effective method

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