A Guide for Building Your Own Backyard Basketball Court

Updated: Jan. 18, 2024

A DIY backyard basketball court will make your house the most popular place on the block. Here's what you need to know before jumping in.

Nothing says summer like pickup basketball games played late into the night. If you had a hoop and a driveway, kids from up and down the street could crowd in to play, peel off for dinner or homework, then later fall asleep to the slap-slap of basketballs still pounding the pavement.

A garage hoop is great. And certainly, if you live near a park, you can play full- or half-court games with actual court lines. But what if you could build your own? How cool would that be?

You can! It’s a big project, but doable with helpers and planning. We’ll walk you through the basics to give you an idea of what you’re getting into.

Planning Your Backyard Basketball Court

With a project this size, it’s critical to begin with a well-thought-out plan. Before you pick up a shovel or concrete form, map out your ideas with software like SketchUp, and investigate how much this whole thing is going to cost.

Here’s where to start:

Choose the size

Decide how much space you can dedicate to your court. Compared to football or baseball, basketball requires a smaller playing surface, but you’ll need to give up part of your yard.

College and NBA courts are 94 feet long by 50 feet wide. If you can do that, wow! Congrats!

If that’s too big, cut it down to a half-court or even smaller. With a half-court, you’ll still need the 50-foot width, but only 47 feet for the length. Don’t forget to allow for room to run out of bounds, so building up to the side of your brick house doesn’t work.

If a half-court won’t fit in your yard, scale it down to whatever dimensions you can accommodate.

Choose the playing surface

Backyard basketball courts usually start with a concrete slab, which you can play on or cover with other materials. Here are some popular options:

  • Modular tiles: Interlocking polymer tiles sit on top of the slab. They’re easy to snap together and provide great drainage. Get multiple sport boundaries printed on your court by companies like VersaCourt. Play basketball one day, pickleball the next!
  • Acrylic: Durable acrylic coatings can be applied to the slab with or without cushioning systems underneath the custom-color playing surface.
  • Asphalt: Most of us have played on an asphalt court; it’s a common choice for schools and parks. It’s softer than concrete and relatively inexpensive compared to other options. But it doesn’t last as long.

Get a permit

Any time you’re planning construction on your property, particularly a project as large as a basketball court, call the city or check their website to see if you need a permit. Unless you live in a really rural area, you probably do.

Draw up your plans before you apply. Verify any easements to your property boundary. And if you plan to take down trees, make sure that’s covered in your permit application as well.

Building Your Backyard Basketball Court

Before you start your project, call 811 or go to call811.com to have any underground utilities marked. Calculate the amount of fill, concrete or asphalt you’ll need for the court and schedule a delivery.

Option 1: Concrete slab

This is the foundation of most backyard basketball courts, and it’s hard work. Enlist a few helpers if you’re pouring the slab yourself.

For half-courts or larger, it may be worth it to hire pros. At the least, rent a skid steer to make your job easier if you have a lot of dirt to move.

Here are the basics:

  • Mark the corners of your court and check the slope with string and a level.
  • Remove vegetation and level the ground by adding or removing dirt. Depending on how much dirt you want to haul away, you can build up the court from ground level or dig down so it’s flush with the ground.
  • Set concrete forms and square the corners. Allow a 2% slope for rain to drain off before staking in the forms around the perimeter.
  • Add gravel fill to four inches below the top of the forms. Tamp down the gravel. Add rebar or steel mesh.
  • Pour concrete from one end of the form to the other. Wear rubber boots and drag the concrete toward you with a 2×4 screed and rake, leveling the concrete to the top of the perimeter forms.
  • Smooth the surface with a float. Do finishing work and cut control joints to prevent random cracking.

Option 2: Asphalt court

Instead of pouring a concrete slab, you can install asphalt. If you’ve ever seen a highway or driveway put in, you know this isn’t as DIY-friendly. To get that smooth surface, asphalt should be leveled with a one- to three-ton roller.

Installing asphalt is messy work, too, due to its composition of gravel, sand and sticky binders like bitumen.

Just like concrete, the base is key. You’ll need well-compacted soil, plus a tamped or rolled gravel layer. Drainage on top of the court is also important, because water pooling can reduce its life. Unlike concrete, you don’t need forms to install asphalt because the edges are sloped into the ground.

If you’re going with an asphalt court, hiring a contractor will probably be your best bet.

Add playing surface

Depending on the surface you chose, when the concrete cures, add your playing surface or paint lines if you’re sticking with concrete. Modular tiles ship disassembled so you can fit them together like a puzzle. This is the most user-friendly of the playing surface options.

If you choose an acrylic playing surface, you can hire someone to apply the surface or DIY. These applications start with a primer and resurfacer, which prepare the court and help with adhesion. Next comes multiple cushioning layers, and finally the acrylic surface layer.

If you choose an asphalt court instead of concrete, there’s nothing more to do except add the boundary lines with paint.

Add basketball goal

By now, you should know what kind of goal you’re installing. Portable goals are inexpensive and work well. But if you’re building your own court, you might as well add a permanent goal that sits on a footing. These are available from brands like Goalrilla and Silverback.

Follow the instructions that come with your goal, but in general you’ll need to dig a three- or four-foot footing. Do this with a post-hole digger. Or, to make it easier, rent or invest in an auger.

The goal footing should be close to but separate from the court itself, to prevent vibration. Once you dig the hole, insert a concrete form and pour concrete into the hole. Sink the anchor system that comes with the goal into the concrete, making sure it’s centered and level. Once this cures, grab a helper and bolt the goal to the anchors.

Add lighting and landscaping

Now that you have a court, you want people to watch you play, right? Spruce up your court by adding benches for spectators as well as landscaping to integrate the court into your yard.

Keep in mind that for safety, leave at least three feet of unobstructed out-of-bounds space around your court, according to NCAA official rules. Ten feet is preferred.

And finally, depending on the size of the court, your porch light probably isn’t going to cut it for night games. If you’re installing a permanent basketball goal, look for light attachments like this one from Goalrilla that go right to on goal, or install floodlights on footings around the perimeter.