building a tennis court in the backyard

MichaelChang

Hall of Fame
I am not sure if I am asking the question at the right place. But here it goes. Imagine if you house's backyard is big enough (60x120) for a tennis court. Of course the backyard currently is with grass and not quite level. How would you proceed to make a court there. By making a "court", I mean either you make a real tennis court, or make it "playable" for tennis.

Does anybody have any thoughts or experiences on this? different options, costs, etc? thanks.
 

nyc

Hall of Fame
I remember a thread where someone posted detailed progress about constructing their own court.

I do highly recommend NOT to do it on your own if you want it to be level, playable and lasting for more than 3 months.

If memory serves me well, construction of a court runs between $25-50k and lights another $25k
 

lstewart

Semi-Pro
I've wondered before why you could not have a low quality homemade yard court if you had the room, and could get the ground reasonablly level. I would think you could hit on hard packed dirt, if you got rid of the grass. It would be sort of like a baseball infield, except you would need it to be a little more firm. I would assume you could have it somewhat playable with about the same amount of effort a local facility puts into their infield for baseball games. Of course rain would be an issue. Probably would not be great, but I've played on some backyard clay courts that I thought were just about unplayable.
 

MichaelChang

Hall of Fame
I've wondered before why you could not have a low quality homemade yard court if you had the room, and could get the ground reasonablly level. I would think you could hit on hard packed dirt, if you got rid of the grass. It would be sort of like a baseball infield, except you would need it to be a little more firm. I would assume you could have it somewhat playable with about the same amount of effort a local facility puts into their infield for baseball games. Of course rain would be an issue. Probably would not be great, but I've played on some backyard clay courts that I thought were just about unplayable.
that is what I was wondering too. to make a grass/dirt court with possibly play some other sports on it? after all, a grass/dirt court is more fun for kids/family. but it seems just very hard to level it, if I would hire someone to level the dirt surface, and then put on some thin layer of grass?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Levelling is easy, just rent a Bobcat with a shovel and go at it.
You can buy laser levellers at HomeDepot or any hardware store for under $150.
Rest is labor, yours.
Now, erosion is a problem, but you can run water dispersal channels UNDER the court, with perforated rock and 6" PVC perforated pipe.
Hardest part is what to do first. Hire a soilologist, and engineer, or just start moving dirt?
 

zapvor

G.O.A.T.
its tough to get level........theres a reason it costs so much. esp over such a long distance.
 

goran_ace

Hall of Fame
OP, have you considered installing a rubberized/plastic tile surface like flexcourt or sportcourt?

It's going to extremely difficult to turn your normal backyard lawn into a grass court. With the cost effort of court construction and all the seasonal and daily maintenance involved you might as well just build a hard court or sport court out there if you've got the room.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
It's labor intensive to level out a court sized lot, because the substrate can be composed of different materials, and each behaves differently over time, thru heat, pressure, earthquakes, usage, water, and dry spells.
I helped build a "field of dreams" little league field a dozen years ago, me being a decent, though waaay underpaid Bobcat driver.
Erosion is killer.
It's basically almost impossible to kill all the different weeds that can grow thru anything short of solid steel (which corrodes over time and allows weeds to grow thru). Plastic sheeting DOES NOT work, even 6 layers.
Construction costs are all tied into the sub flooring, the structure that support the top layer...the court.
 

zapvor

G.O.A.T.
you can do it like you do a drive way.

gravel, rebar etc underneath and then the layer on top. should be fine for a while
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
The notion that you can simply level the dirt, even level it very well, and have a playable surface is a pipedream. What keeps a court level is the very carefullly layed layers of rock and gravel underneath that facilitate a stable level and also allow adequate drainage. (And drainage is NOT simply needed so you can play sooner; drainage underneath minimizes the formation of small puddles and streams on the court that rearrange the dirt and ruin the leveling). Bottom line: you'll spend more time trying to keep it playable than you will playing.
 

2ndServe

Hall of Fame
my mom has space for a court, I was thinking about laying cement and then artificial grass/turf on it. I think that's the cheapest option. I'm wondering if you go this route do I need to get city permits? It's a pipe dream anyways as she doesn't like tennis.
 
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max

Legend
Interesting thread; good to hear ollie and lee's comments. I sometimes drive past farmyards where there's a beauty level grassy space and dream.
 

tennytive

Professional
I wouldn't think level is a good idea. Doesn't each side have to be pitched to some degree for drainage?

The court I learned to play on as a kid was higher at the south end. Not so you'd notice but definitely pitched.

Our neighbors have a half court basketball concrete court. Drives us nuts, but has been there with no maintenance or upkeep for decades. I thought that could work for tennis, but since it's scored for expansion/contraction, you'd have to do that on the lines of the court so as not to affect the bounce.

Lotta money no matter how you look at it. Think of how many years you could belong to a swanky club for that amount of coin.
 

mmk

Hall of Fame
I wouldn't think level is a good idea. Doesn't each side have to be pitched to some degree for drainage?

The court I learned to play on as a kid was higher at the south end. Not so you'd notice but definitely pitched.

Our neighbors have a half court basketball concrete court. Drives us nuts, but has been there with no maintenance or upkeep for decades. I thought that could work for tennis, but since it's scored for expansion/contraction, you'd have to do that on the lines of the court so as not to affect the bounce.

Lotta money no matter how you look at it. Think of how many years you could belong to a swanky club for that amount of coin.
And play indoors during bad weather. Still, if I were really loaded, I'd do it. One of my college teammates had a court at home, but his family has a brewery in Golden, CO. They could afford it.
 

zapvor

G.O.A.T.
The notion that you can simply level the dirt, even level it very well, and have a playable surface is a pipedream. What keeps a court level is the very carefullly layed layers of rock and gravel underneath that facilitate a stable level and also allow adequate drainage. (And drainage is NOT simply needed so you can play sooner; drainage underneath minimizes the formation of small puddles and streams on the court that rearrange the dirt and ruin the leveling). Bottom line: you'll spend more time trying to keep it playable than you will playing.
yea. any competent contractor can level it fine. it just costs money.
 

zapvor

G.O.A.T.
I wouldn't think level is a good idea. Doesn't each side have to be pitched to some degree for drainage?

The court I learned to play on as a kid was higher at the south end. Not so you'd notice but definitely pitched.

Our neighbors have a half court basketball concrete court. Drives us nuts, but has been there with no maintenance or upkeep for decades. I thought that could work for tennis, but since it's scored for expansion/contraction, you'd have to do that on the lines of the court so as not to affect the bounce.

Lotta money no matter how you look at it. Think of how many years you could belong to a swanky club for that amount of coin.
yea i think when we say level we mean level for tennis, not 100% level. no court is 100% level for that reason
 

MichaelChang

Hall of Fame
Thanks for all the inputs guys.

I am guessing maybe to make it like a dirt surface like baseball is the easiest/quickest way to go? but probably even this would need intensive labor and not something I can do myself, within reasonable time (like a 3month time frame?) I probably should consult some construction guys and start from there. I have also read about rubber/plastic surfaces which can be installed but then the bouncing is bad as I read.
 

Relinquis

Hall of Fame
considering the other uses you could have for the land/backyard and access you have to other, quality, tennis courts it might not be worth it unless you do it properly.
 

lstewart

Semi-Pro
I don't know... seems like we are having two different discussions. Clearly if you want a real tennis court in your back yard that will be readily available all the time, requires little maintenace, and plays up to normal standards, you would have to spend the money to have one that meets normal quality and construction standards. But if you have a level back yard with enough room for a "play for fun" court, I bet you could come up with a dirt court that would be fairly playable for social tennis, when it is not too wet. I remember as a kid having friends that had basketball goals set up in their back yards (including me) with just the grass under it. If you played enough, the grass would be worn down to just the dirt, and you could dribble on it. Of course a court like this would not be perfect, and would not be tournament quality. But again thinking of a small town baseball infield, and the amount of effort I've watched go in to it for maintenace, I bet it would work half way decent. The positive would also be that you would still have your back yard for other purposes if you changed your mind.
 

zapvor

G.O.A.T.
or you can do it SUPER cheap:

1 rent those stampers to level teh dirt.
2 pour out concrete on top of the dirt, mixed with enough sand to give it more texture for tennis
3 let dry and hit the court!
 
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