Mr. Blandings Builds His Badminton Court

Badminton is a great sport. You can play it as gently or as fast as you like. Sometimes the volleying gets so wickedly manic, you burst out laughing when finally someone misses the shot. 30 minutes of that gets your heart rate up, too. You don’t need a lot of strength so I don’t think size or gender matters much. You do need some hand-eye coordination — or racket-eye coordination, I should say — but you develop it as you play.

Badminton birdie dropping for the serve
Serving! [photo by Tsutomu Takasu]
We’ve had a badminton net up in our yard for several years. We enjoy whacking that birdie back and forth after dinner, not keeping score. But the ground was sloping and the apple tree was encroaching on the court. So we decided to level the area and put in a regulation size badminton court (20′ wide x 44′ long). With actual grass sod, instead of 90% dandelions!

Two Schools of Badminton Court Building

I figured we’d just cut into the upper side of the slope and pitch it over to the lower side of the slope to bring it up, put in a few retaining bricks, and lay down the sod…et voilà.

Bill had bigger ideas. While I am of the “That’ll do” school, he is of the “If you’re going to do it, DO IT RIGHT” school.

It used to be a yard...
It used to be a yard…

His vision entailed renting a trench-cutter to bring a water line for a hose, and a Kubota tractor to do major earthwork and road improvement. Bobby ripped around on the Kubota in a dusty top hat, scraping and grading and proving that an immense amount of destruction can be accomplished with a single excavating machine.

The retaining wall could not be made with whatever we had lying around, but had to match the garden bulwark and extend much longer than I envisioned.

This also required hiring the quirky master mason who put in the garden bulwark. Because Ted doesn’t have the back anymore to lift and shove these blocks nowadays, we also conscripted his son to be his brawn. Justin is a fully functioning jack-of-all-trades in-the-making and was very handy.

Nice, straight wall!
Nice, straight wall!

Several trips to Home Depot were needed to cart 100 or so 42lb blocks, and then cart them back again because they did not match the blocks we used in the garden bulwark. And then more trips to bring the right ones.

However, in the end, Ted and Justin put together a beautiful, level, straight retaining wall with integrated steps. Great work!

The Saga of the Topsoils

So the grass would have something to grow in, we brought in topsoil from 3 different compost/topsoil/gravel companies. The first load from Vern’s Organic Topsoil on Bond Road, Poulsbo, was an appalling abomination with plastic and broken glass in it. Organic?? But you don’t see the trash in it until you’ve spread it and watered it to get it to settle. And then what do you do? Demand they come scrape it off? As though that’s going to happen!

Kebab supervises Indigo Topsoil deliveryKebab supervises Indigo Topsoil delivery
Kebab supervises Indigo Topsoil delivery. (Not sure why there is no indigo blue in their logo…)

All I can do is state here, for anyone who is googling organic topsoil in Poulsbo, WA: DON’T BUY FROM VERN’S ORGANIC TOPSOIL. A better topsoil company is Indigo Topsoil. Nice looking dirt, and no plastic.

Bill also had gravel brought in for the driveway. Lots of gravel. I don’t know how Kebab the Corgi can walk on it, frankly.

Now for the Green Part

Our plan had been to bring in grass sod and just roll it out and start playing. But that began to look like a lot of money. And a lot of ferry fares ferrying it over to our side of Puget Sound. Although warned that seeding a lawn often fails, we’ve decided to give it a try. (More trips to Home Depot…) I’ll let you know how it comes out, but no badminton till next spring.

The retaining wall and more piles of topsoil to be leveledThe retaining wall and more piles of topsoil to be leveled
The retaining wall and more piles of topsoil to be leveled

(And if you don’t know the Mr. Blandings referenced in the post title, run to your library or click below to watch this hilarious 1948 Cary Grant and Myrna Loy movie about a New York City family renovating a country house…)

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
Get this movie from Amazon!