People often dream of a spacious backyard where their dogs can roam and children can play. They may want a pool, a shed, or a patio, and the size of the backyard often dictates what you can have in it.
How big is the average backyard? Depending on which statistics you use, the average backyard ranges from 8,500 square feet to 10,871 square feet, or about a quarter of an acre. In the U.S., many determining factors contribute to average backyard size from zoning laws, house size, and property prices.
The article below shows you how average backyard size varies from state to state and explains why it can be different. It also offers some tips on how to improve your space.
Are Backyards Smaller Now?
Backyards once were a larger open space meant for the family and friends to enjoy. It was where you played football, had barbecues and ran with the dog. Backyards have since shrunk down by about 15 percent.
Average backyards were once about a quarter of an acre and now are .2 acres. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the shift to a smaller backyard began in 1995. The median lot size went even smaller to under 8,600 square feet in 2015. That was a first since tracking began by the Census Bureau’s Survey on Construction (SOC).
It went slightly smaller, a 2-foot reduction, in 2017 when the median lot size was 8,560 feet.
Houses Got Bigger
Another factor contributes to the reduced backyard size beyond reduced lot size. House size increased, and that reduced the amount of acreage left for the backyard.
The average square footage for a home in 2001 was 1,725 feet. It grew by 10 percent to 1,980 over the years. This can be attributed to market demand. People rather have more inside space than outside.
Some states that concentrate on large homes rather than big backyards include Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Texas. Bear in mind that all of those states typically have larger property lots than other states as they include ranches, farms, and other spacious properties.
Some areas, due to zoning planning, topography or price, have larger lot sizes than others. States like Montana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Maine, and Louisiana, all have larger lots for the average homeowner than other states.
Vermont is at the top of the list for large, average lot sizes. The average homeowner’s lot in Vermont is 75,794 square feet. That is the entire lot, front yard, home, and backyard. Those who choose smaller homes can enjoy a massive yard in Vermont.
New England, generally, has larger backyards than those living in the West. States with the smallest average backyard include Arizona, California, and Nevada. Those on the West Coast have an average backyard of 6,534 square feet. That is only .15 acres, and much smaller than the average homeowner.
MIdwesterners have the average size backyard with must running around 9,583 square feet, amounting to 22 acres.
People Use Their Backyards
Homeowners find lots of ways to use their backyard space, even if it’s a small yard. The U.S. Census Bureau reported less than 9 percent of new single-family homeowners in 2018 had no outdoor features. That is a small group of 840,000 new property owners.
Those who add outdoor features are picking things like decks and patios first. That industry 3 percent growth every year from 2014 until 2019. The American Society of Landscape Architects states that people are also investing in fire pits.
One fascinating fact about backyard use is that while people want low-maintenance yards, they are putting more emphasis and plants. Homeowners are planting more vegetable gardens but are also more interested in native plants to their area as well as plants that are drought tolerant.
Determining the Right Backyard Size
While many may dream of a large backyard, they may regret it as it may not get the use they were anticipating or it requires a lot more work to maintain it than they realized. Everyone wants a cozy, comfortable backyard for family and friends to enjoy, and the best way to ensure that is to determine the backyard size that best fits your needs.
Start by looking at average backyards where you will be living. Look at the size of your family and the number of pets you have or plan to have. Think about what features you want in the backyard to see if there is room.
Features may be a patio, a pergola, a pool, a shed, or an outdoor kitchen. You may want fruit trees and a playground for the children. All of these should be considered even if you don’t plan to install them right away.
A large determining factor will be the cost. You have to look at the purchase price as well as the cost of maintaining it. Grass will need mowing and you probably will need landscaping. You may also need to weigh the option of a smaller house with a larger yard versus your dream home with a small backyard.
Once you plot out your plans and needs, you can figure out how big your backyard should be.
Utilizing a Small Backyard
Many people in other countries have small backyards, even courtyards, as their outdoor space. Yet, they use creative methods to make it feel more spacious and personalized. You can use some of the same ideas to make a smaller space feel warm and happy.
Adding some points of light color to a backyard space will make it feel bigger. This can be in painting the porch, plant containers and even blooming plants. Bright colors make people happier.
Backyards are meant to be used but one that has lots of storage, furniture, and many toys scattered around will make you feel pinned in.
An easy way to create more backyard space is to clear your backyard of the unnecessary brush. Trees, shrubs, and foliage can get overgrown and limit your space. Cut everything back to make for more play areas and to visually look cleaner.
How much room do you need in your backyard for a pool?
You can decide how big you want your pool based on the amount of backyard space you have. Pool sizes can vary but the average size for a pool in the U.S. is typically 15 feet by 30 feet. You will also need to consider areas for walking, sitting, or laying around the pool and any landscaping as well as a fence.
What is a good size for a sports court in the backyard?
Different sports have different courts but you can create a court that works for a variety of sports from basketball, volleyball, and badminton. A standard residential basketball court is a half-court, which is 18 feet by 18 feet.
A volleyball court is larger at 59 feet long and 29.5 feet wide. However, you can scale that down since you will just be having family fun games. Badminton courts are smaller so you can easily have a court that’s 30 feet by 20 feet to accommodate your sports needs.
How large are lots for townhomes?
The typical lot for a townhome is 100 square feet. However, some urban townhome lots are 60 square feet.