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[DIY Court On a Budget] How To Install a Backyard Basketball Court … Without Concrete!

We supply materials for backyard basketball (and multi-sport) courts around the country.

TLTR – Jump directly to the court tile recommended in this article, here.

Need installation? Contact us for a quote.

How to DIY a backyard basketball court, on a budget.

First, it’s important to know the 3 main benefits of building a court WITHOUT concrete:

  1. Compacted rock courts (plus plastic tiles) are a viable alternative to concrete in cases where a customer wants to remove the court at a later date, or simply doesn’t want concrete or asphalt in the backyard.
  2. It allows the customer to more easily do the work themselves, and save money.
  3. It gets around “impermeable surface” rules your city or county codes may impose, preventing concrete from being an option. Crushed rock sub-base courts + our court tiles are completely permeable so allow water to drain vertically.

Here are some brief steps to the process and a few considerations.

Step By Step Basketball Court Construction / Installation

  1. The site should be graded in a similar manner as if you were putting down a permanent base. For example, vegetation removal, leveling with a slope of 1″ per 16′ for drainage, and compaction of the ground.
  2. Once the court area has been rough graded it is best to contain the court with 6″ x 6″ x 8′ landscape timbers from Home Depot, Lowes, or local lumberyard. Straight ones work best. The timbers are used just to create a border to contain the base materials. This helps to eliminate erosion of the base over time. 4″ x 4″ x 8′ timbers can work, however 6″ x 6″ work best. They can be set down by digging out 2-3″ along a squared up stake and string line, then placed in the dug out area.

Secure the Timbers

  1. It is best to secure the timbers by drilling holes 3 per 8′ timber and driving 18″ long 1/2″ diameter steel rebar stakes thru the pre drilled holes. The stakes should be flush or slightly below the timber top grade. The holes drilled should be slightly smaller such as 3/8″.
  2. Timbers can be secured to each other using 4-6″ framing plates from Lowes or Home Depot one on each side connecting the timbers together.
  3. Leave one section or end open for bringing in base materials.
  4. Bring in compact-able base materials of limestone, granite, or road-base.
  5. Place in 1″ lifts, level, then compact with a vibrating plate compactor (rental store) or a small roller if you have access to site.
  6. Continue to add base material and compact to grade slightly above height of timbers. You can run a string line between timbers side to side to check on your grade to get it as close to level as you can. It is important to spend the time on this aspect because it will determine the quality of the court once finished.

PRO TIPS: Whatever compact-able material is used, you want to make certain that there is no stone larger than 3/8″. There are several materials available and some that are local-area specific. There are also some sand type materials that are highly compact-able and can be used on the top layer.

If the sub-ground is wet or unstable you may consider placing an inch or two of larger stone 3/4″ for stability and drainage. Often the final layer of stone around the edge of the frame will need to be compacted with a hand tamper (rental store).

After You Level the Base

  1. Once the base is leveled and compacted to grade, cover the base with a landscape fabric. Landscape fabric is usually in rolls 4′ to 6′ wide (gray and allows water to seep thru if it sits or runs off if it rains). It can be found at Home Depot in garden department in rolls 4′ x 50′ for about 10-12 cents a sq ft. Larger wholesale landscape or material outlets may have it in larger widths. The material should be laid lengthwise and stapled inside of form on ends and sides. It is placed along the lowest grade, then overlapped slightly. Place on top lengthwise as you add rows so water runs off on top of the fabric when it drains. The fabric serves as a weed and moisture barrier. It also keeps the base material from piercing the surface or the surface from embedding into the base. It is important to do a good job of squaring up your court measurements and lay your forms to a string line grade. If the court is not square, unsightly trimming may have to be done at the end. Getting the base properly compacted by doing it in 1″ lifts will help insure a more level plane and solid base for your surface. The measurement of the surface should be calculated based on the dimensions of the product and accounts for expansion and contraction. Contact the company for exact court dimensions for your forming.
  2. As you lay a couple of rows of fabric you can begin laying your court surface to avoid the wind blowing your fabric out of place.

Placing the Components

  1. It is best to place components in a 2′ x 2′ or 3′ x 3′ ft concrete wing. Components may include basketball hoop poles, lights, and net posts. Any fencing should be placed outside the form, so you do not disturb the base. The location of the anchors for the basket, light, or net post also need to be calculated for best performance. This is especially true for the hoop based on the model and overhang from the pole. Contact the company for recommendations on your basketball pole location.
  2. If your game court is on the side of a hill it is important to try and re-route any water runoff around the court. This helps prevent it from going under your court causing erosion or soft areas over time. Drain tile around the high side of the court with some gravel can help eliminate this future maintenance concern.

Install The Court Tiles

There are many different plastic court tiles on the market. After selling & installing court tiles for about a decade, we have realized that 99% of the tiles on the market DON’T WORK with crushed-rock sub base courts. The reason? They are too light weight and not thick enough.

The *only* tile in the industry that truly performs like a proper basketball court (without concrete) is from Ultra Base Systems – the Ultra Base Court Tile. These tiles are 1.25″ thick! Much thicker than any other tile in the industry. UBS designs substructure replacement tiles, so they understand how to build a tile that is structurally sound.

**Order These Tiles Here**


Compacted Base Backyard Basketball Courts

There have been many compacted base courts built over the past 30 years. They can perform and play very well over time. If for some reason a low spot develops you can always take a section of the court out. Then cut the fabric and peel it back and add some base material. Re-compact with a hand tamper and reinstall the fabric and surface. This only takes a little time and not much in terms of material cost. The key again is taking the time to get it level and compacted good initially. You want to be sure to use good compact-able materials on the final 2″ of the court base.

Compacted base court materials are less expensive than concrete or asphalt. The labor is a little more involved if you take your time to do it right but if you are doing it yourself with some help from neighbors, family, or friends it can be cost effective.

P.S. – Perimeter Borders for Backyard Courts

It’s not absolutely necessary to have a perimeter border for your backyard game court. It helps with aesthetics and containing base materials over time.

There are compacted base backyard sports courts customers have built without perimeter borders as a cost and time savings. If done this way you want to have your court grade flow uniformly with the surrounding landscape.


Contact us for a quote for your backyard or commercial sport courts.

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