10 Lawn Game Trends for Backyard Fun

Set your backyard up to be the happening spot for summer barbecues and pool parties this year with these popular lawn games.
Deirdre Mundorf Avatar
A group of friends playing a Cornhole bean bag toss game in a backyard of a home.
Photo: iStock

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If you want to make your backyard a blast, adding some lawn games is one sure-fire way to make that happen. “Lawn games are extremely trendy and an amazing drawcard to have at any event,” says Aurelija Gintaliene, the COO and co-founder of Breezit, a wedding and event planning business. She adds, “When we are helping plan garden-themed weddings and events, we come across many hosts who want to incorporate lawn games as part of their entertainment for guests and children who are in attendance.” 

So, whether you’re coordinating a wedding or another large event, hosting a backyard cookout, or are just looking for some ways to keep the kids busy when the weather is nice, fun and hands-on yard games are certain to be a big hit. Read on to discover some of the top games to try, including a few options that you can make yourself. 

1. DIY Beach Ball Bowling

Happy little girl playing with a beach ball in the grass with her father
Photo: iStock

If you’re looking to boost a boring backyard with a fun lawn game that you can DIY in a flash, even at the last minute, then it doesn’t get much better than beach ball bowling. You’ll only need 10 empty aluminum soda bottles and a beach ball. Set the soda bottles out on the yard — if you want to be a bit crafty, you could even paint them in fun neon colors first — and roll the beach ball towards them to see how many you and your guests can knock over. 

If desired, you could pick up a few additional supplies to make outdoor bowling lanes so multiple guests could play at the same time. Just set out a yoga mat as the lane and attach a few pool noodles together to create the bumpers.

2. Pickleball

A person serves a pickleball in the sunshine.
Photo: iStock

Whether you’re a pickleball superstar at your gym or you’ve never played a round of the sport, building a pickleball court in your driveway or backyard could make your home the coolest spot on the block. A regulation pickleball court is 30 feet wide and 60 feet long, but even if you have less space, you could still set something up that will be fun for all. Once the space is planned out, grab a portable pickleball set, such as this one from Zdgao, and you’ll be all set.

3. Outdoor Jenga

Oversized Jenga blocks sit outside.
Photo: iStock

“Many online shops sell large Jenga pieces that you can set up and play with outdoors. This game is suitable for all ages and is a welcomed sight at any event,” says Gintaliene. 

The extra large blocks add a fun twist to a familiar favorite. This set from Sport Beats comes with a carrying bag and includes several randomly numbered blocks. For some added fun, you can create your own rules for the game and make each player do something fun if they pull a certain number from the ever-growing tower.

4. DIY Giant Outdoor KerPlunk

An oversized pull and plunk game sits on the grass.
Photo: Academy Sports + Outdoors

If you’ve never played KerPlunk, it is a thrilling game of luck and strategy that involves carefully pulling out plastic sticks from a cylindrical container and hoping that you aren’t the one that causes any of the marbles resting on the sticks to fall. This DIY yard game version applies the same basic concept, just with oversized materials. 

The cylinder “canister” for the game is made with marbles, and wooden dowels stand in for the plastic sticks. After connecting the chicken wire together to form the cylinder, you’ll just need to put it on a wooden base and toss a few plastic balls (like these from Click N’ Play for a child’s ball pit), and you’ll be ready for some nail-biting, yet fun, competition. For last-minute party planners, Academy offers this AGame Jumbo Pull N Plunk Game.

5. Cornhole

Two men having fun playing a cornhole game.
Photo: iStock

You can’t have an article about lawn games without mentioning cornhole. The game involves trying to toss your bean bags into the hole at the top of your opponent’s cornhole board. You earn three points for getting the bag through the hole, or one point for getting the bean bag to land on the board. 

There are lots of great cornhole boards available for purchase, such as the GoSports Classic Cornhole Set, a favorite in our guide to the best cornhole boards. Alternatively, if you’re in the mood for a relatively simple project, you can also DIY a few cornhole boards for your yard.

6. Kan Jam

Two young people play a game of Kan Jam.
Photo: Amazon

When you’re searching for the best lawn games to play this summer, you can’t go wrong with Kan Jam. This game takes elements from familiar games, such as cornhole or horseshoes, but adds a unique twist. It involves throwing a frisbee-like disc towards your opponent’s kan. The goal is to get the disc to land in their kan. Beyond the challenge of perfecting your aim and throw, your opponent can also try to block the disc from entering their kan, increasing the difficulty level. This fun lawn game is great for two players or four players (with teams of two working together).

7. DIY Outdoor Twister

Family playing Twister outdoors.
Photo: iStock

Whether children or adults are playing, a game of twister can be a combination of fun, challenging, and hilarious. If you want to add this exciting game to your next backyard gathering, you can easily make a temporary board right on your grass with the help of a little yard paint and a large, cardboard circle stencil. You’ll need four different paint colors and will want to create the classic twister grid by spacing them out evenly (with about 6 inches between each circle). Then, just make a quick DIY spinner, and let the games begin. For easier cleanup, spread the classic game of Twister by Hasbro over the grass.

8. Kubb

Two people playing Kubb wooden game in the yard.
Photo: Amazon

Kubb — pronounced koob — is a Swedish game that many believe has its roots in the Viking age. The rules of the game are a little complex for newbies, but combine elements of chess, cornhole, and horseshoes as teams work to knock down their opponents’ kubbs (wooden blocks) by throwing a wooden dowel across a wide field. Play continues until one team knocks down all of their opponents’ kubbs, and then successfully knocks down the king that sits in the center of the field. This kubb set from GoSports includes all the wooden pieces you need for the game, along with a case for storage and transport.

9. Bocce Ball

A young woman in a wheelchair and friends are playing bocce ball.
Photo: iStock

Bring some retro trends to your backyard with a bocce ball yard game, such as this set from Franklin Sports. The set includes eight bocce balls and one smaller pallino ball. Players will work as a team to try to roll their bocce balls closer to the center pallino ball. To make the game more exciting, you can knock the other team’s ball away from the pallino ball to try to win the round and earn your team a point.

10. Oversized Chessboard

Two kids playing large garden chess.
Photo: iStock

Can you imagine playing chess outside? On a giant board? Well, you don’t have to imagine it. You can buy oversized chess pieces, like these from MegaChess and make your own chessboard using panels, lawn paint, or even more permanent pavers. 

“This is a pricey one, says Gintaliene, “but if you are planning to have it in your yard, you can purchase it and include it as part of your landscaping efforts.” She adds, “This is suitable for all ages, and the large pieces make it an exciting game.”