Backyard Ga-Ga Ball Pit ($300)

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In my never-ending search for ways to get my kids off electronics, I decided to build a backyard ga-ga ball pit for my son as a birthday present. If you haven't heard of ga-ga ball, you're missing out!

Ga-ga ball is a game played in a fenced in "pit" similar to dodgeball. I believe it originated in Israel or became mainstream their. My son learned to play at a summer camp many years ago and we play as a family at public parks that have permanent pits.

A ga-ga ball pit typically consists of a large octagon fence 15-20ft in diameter with a height of 24-36 inches. This Instructable will show you how to build a ga-ga ball pit for your backyard that is 32inches tall with a diameter of ~20 ft in diameter. My total cost came to just under $300 and was complete in about 2 hours with the help of my brother, my son (age 12) and my son's friend (age 13).

Step 1: Gather the Materials

It actually took me more time to load the lumber, pay for it and get it home than it did to actually build the pit. Below are the full materials and tools needed. I had the hardware store cut the 2x4s to length. The 2"x10"s are at stock lengths. My local hardware store had some 2"x10"s that were damaged by a forklift during unloading. I offered to buy the damaged lumber at 75% off and they agreed. That saved me about $20!

Materials:

1.) 2" x 4" Pressure treated lumber at 32" lengths (qty: 16) (I bought four 2x4s at 12ft lengths cut to size)

2.) 2" x 10" Pressure treated lumber at 8ft lengths (Qty: 24)

3.) 3" Course thread wood screws (qty: 200)

4.) 1.5" Course thread wood screws (qty: 100)

5.) 3" Door or Gate Hinges (qty: 16) like this

Tools:

1.) Hand drill

2.) phillips driver bits

3.) Circular saw if you choose to cut the 2x4s yourself

Step 2: Build a Wall #MAGA!...kidding

Build one side walls of the pit by laying down (3) of the 2x10s, squaring them up and laying two of the 32" 2x4's over top at the ends. Set 8 or 9 of the 3" screws in to hold them all together at each end. Each side should have 16-18 screws. Make sure the 2x10s are evenly spaced and flush with the ends of the 2x4s.

Step 3: Build Seven More Sides

Once you have one of the sides built, build 7 more on top to ensure that all wall are square and identical. I had the kids take over for this part. This is probably the first project where my son and his friend helped more then they hindered, making this a huge milestone. I remember when my son was about 4 and always wanted to "help out" with my projects. Looks like that training is starting to pay off!

Step 4: Prepare the Pit Zone!

I have a section of my yard that's too shady to grow decent grass. I chose this area for the pit so it was easy to shave down with my lawn mower set to it's lowest height. Took about 10 minutes to shave it down, pick the rocks out of my shins and rake the area clean.

Step 5: Connect the Side Walls

Using the 1.5" screws and door hinges connect the sidewalls and build the octagon. This is the step where lots of money can be saved. You can buy gaga ball pit braces on line for ~$400 but the $30 in door hinges work great! Shout-out to my co-worker Kevin McMaster for coming up with this idea!

Don't get hung up on making the walls all level and perfect. Let the walls follow the ground surface and it'll be fine. The wall junction on't have to be perfectly flush with each other. If it's +/- 0.5" it'll be fine, no one will notice or even care once the games begin!

Step 6: Have Fun!

Learn the rules if you don't know them and have fun! We've had about 14 people in our ga-ga ball pit playing at one time and there was plenty of room for more. This has been one of the most heavily used projects I've taken on so far and I'm hoping this pit gets many more years of solid use!

Drop me a message if you decide to build you're own ga-ga ball pit from this Instructable!

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    9 Discussions

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    jeanniel1

    11 days ago

    Gosh, wish you'd posted the rules of the game so it'd be all in one place! Maybe an addendum or attachment? I love the fact this gets kids out of the house and off electronics. Major thumbs up for this project!

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    cfleis1

    20 days ago

    Please vote for me in the “Backyard” contest!

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    cfleis1Jimichan

    Reply 20 days ago

    Yup! 2,300 views and your the first to call it out! I couldn’t fit all 8 sides within the trees so I used 7. Still works just great! One of the trees is dying so when I take it down I’ll add the 8th side.

    Thanks for checking out my instructable!

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    Gusgonnet

    20 days ago

    amazing! Great idea and thank you for introducing me to Ga Ga Go.

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    jprussack

    21 days ago

    Love some Ga-Ga!!

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    seamster

    24 days ago

    I've never heard of this game, but I'm guessing my kids would love it. Thank you for sharing this, and for turning us onto a new outdoor game! : )

    1 reply
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    cfleis1seamster

    Reply 24 days ago

    Your kids would love it! Since building the pit, I’ve gotten to meet many new kid and parents in the neighborhood!

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    Penolopy Bulnick

    24 days ago

    This sounds like a great idea for getting kids outside and you could use a fence like this for so many things! Little kid play area in general, large sandbox, or a humungous ball pit :D