How to Build a Horseshoe Pit

Maybe you’ve already made your backyard a private oasis, added a fire pit, built a sandbox for the kids or otherwise created an outdoor destination for the whole family. Keep going and build simple horseshoe pits for when you host friends and family at your next outdoor get-together. Follow these instructions on how to do it and then get down to scoring some ringers!

Step 1: Prepare for Pit Placement

Plan the layout for your horseshoe “court.” Keep the size of your yard in mind. You need to have enough space for two pits with stakes 40′ apart. While you can make it as simple as pushing two metal stakes into the ground 40′ apart, this project will show you how to install two pits containing sand with their corresponding stakes.

Safety Alert!

Remember that you will be throwing slightly heavy pieces of metal around your yard. Install your court in a location where there is no danger of accidentally hitting passersby, or any structures or other objects in yours or your neighbors’ yards.

Determine the exact locations of each pit. The stakes should be 40′ apart and a minimum of 21″ from the front of each box. Use a measuring tape to measure out a 40′ distance and mark these locations with landscaping paint or wooden stakes. Then measure at least 21″ from the stake location to determine where the front of each box will be. You can mark these locations with some landscaping paint as well. From there, measure out two 36″ W x 48″ L areas, facing each other. Mark the dimensions of each pit location with stakes and landscaping twine. Push stakes in the ground at each end, and then wrap the twine around each of the four stakes until you have a 36″ x 48″ area for each.

Step 2: Build the Pit Frames

Construct the pits with a type of wood that resists water, weather and insects. Consider pressure-treated wood, composite decking or cedar boards. Purchase four 2″ x 12″ x 8’ boards to construct both pits. Cut the pieces to the required length using a table saw or circular saw. Use a framing square to ensure that the junction between each two boards is square. Fasten the boards together with three 3″ wood screws in each outside corner using a power drill.

Helpful Tip

Have someone help you hold the boards in place when you are putting in the wood screws.

Step 3: Excavate

Install each pit frame partially below ground level to make it sturdier. Using a shovel, dig down 4″ inside the staked out location and remove all soil inside the area to that depth. Tamp it down using a tamper so that it’s level.

Add a 1″ layer of sand into the excavated areas. Pour it in and spread it using a bow rake (use the top of the rake head, not the tines) or by hand until it has been leveled out at 1″.

Helpful Tip

You can place a level in select spots inside the excavated areas to ensure that it is level both before and after adding the 1″ of sand.

Next, cover the areas with landscape fabric. Use shears or a utility knife to cut the fabric to the correct dimensions. The sand and fabric will help with drainage, as well as keep grass and weeds from growing up and through the sand in the pits.

Step 4: Place the Frames

Remove the stakes and string you used to mark each pit location and place the frames into your excavated areas. Use a rubber mallet to lightly tap the top of the frame at 1′ or 2′. intervals so that it settles into place. Ensure that the landscaping fabric edges are completely covered by the frame. Trim any excess from the outside of the frame with a utility knife.

Step 5: Set Your Stakes

Drive your metal stakes into the ground. Use two 1″ diameter metal stakes, 24″ in length. Use a mallet or small sledgehammer to drive the stakes into the ground, leaving them 15″ above ground, at a slight angle towards the opposite pit.

Helpful Tip

Your local True Value store sells horseshoe sets that contain the shoes and stakes that you need to start playing.

Step 6: Fill the Pits with Sand

Fill each pit with play sand. Play sand is “cleaner” than regular sand, because it has been sifted and washed and is not as dusty or dirty as construction sand. This will help minimize dust and keep the sand inside the pits. Fill each pit at least halfway to the top with sand. To estimate how much, multiply the length x width x height to get the volume.

Helpful Tip

Cover your horseshoe pits with tarps when not in use. It will help keep the sand within the pits, keep it dry and prevent objects and animals from getting into the sand. Use bricks or similar heavy objects to weigh down the edges of the tarps and keep them securely in place.

Now you’re ready to throw! Enjoy your time with friends and family while breaking in your new horseshoe pits.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.