Landscape & Hardscape Ideas

Skinny spaces: Games and ideas for narrow outdoor areas

We all have those little strips of yard or patio that are too small to be decked out but too big to be ignored. Don’t despair. There’s hope for those skinny spaces. Here are a few ideas to turn those neglected spaces into destination spots.

A shuffleboard court is a fun addition to any outdoor space. Shuffleboard started as a coin-sliding table game back in the 14th or 15th century. Today, official floor courts are 52 feet long and 6 feet wide, but a court can fit into a space that is 28 feet long and only 3 feet wide. Quikrete has a DIY guide for building your own shuffleboard court. Outdoor Shuffleboard tables are perfect for even smaller spaces.

Outdoor yard games for narrow spaces

Bocce is a yard game that’s making a huge comeback. Derived from the Vulgate Latin bottia, meaning boss, bocce’s simplistic rules make this age-old game great for all ages. Installing the long, narrow bocce court is a fantastic solution for utilizing that side of the house or patio that no-one uses. A regulation bocce ball court is between 8 and 14 feet wide and up to 91 feet long, but home courts can be any size. 8 to 10 feet wide and up to 60 feet long is a good area for a home bocce court. Popular Mechanics has a DIY building guide that can get you started.

Horseshoe pits are a traditional addition to a backyard. According to the National Horseshoe Pitching Association, Horseshoe pitching originated during wartime as a game soldiers would play during idle time. Bob Vila has a project page for building your own horseshoe pit. The pit can be as simple as two square, sand-filled boxes several feet apart from each other with grass or patio in between. A Horseshoe court doesn’t take up a lot of actual landscape space.

Cornhole is also taking over lawn parties. Similar to Horseshoes, the game’s origins aren’t known. Cornhole became popular in Cincinnati about 15 years ago and spread throughout the Midwest and the Northeastern US. Played with two boards and bags of corn (or pellets), cornhole is a tossing game that is suitable for all ages because the landing boards can be adjusted to increase or decrease difficulty. The best part of cornhole is that the boards and bags are portable. The game can be set up anywhere in the yard. The American Cornhole Organization has a page to settle all family arguments about equipment, rules and regulations.

Outdoor pub games for narrow spaces

Outdoor bars outfitted with traditional pub games adds even more excitement. If you have roof cover over your space, a shuffleboard table might be something to consider. Look through this site for some hints on space requirements and options.

A pool table may also liven up the space. Pool tables come in small sizes. Check out this guide to measure your space to see what size pool table could work in your narrow area.

As with any outdoor furniture, shuffleboard and pool tables will benefit from being covered at night and in inclement weather.

A vertical post or wall near a narrow space can be used to hold a dart board. The Professional Darts Corporation doesn’t list a width of a dart board space, but basic measurements of the length from the toeline to the board is 7 feet, 9.25 inches (we’re guessing that quarter inch makes a difference).

Have fun

Narrow spaces don’t have to be mere holders of extra lounge chairs. Introducing games to your yard is inviting your guests to get up and play. Turn those awkward aisles into active zones and your family and friends will never want to stop playing.

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