Uses for an old tennis court?
May 22, 2015 9:18 AM   Subscribe

I am considering purchasing a river-front house that is on a few acres in Cottage Country, Ontario. One of those acres is taken up by a Tennis Court (okay, it is probably not a whole acre by itself but it is really, really big). The court has floodlights, is fenced about twenty feet high on three sides (surrounded by a mature forest on those sides so I assume it was to keep the balls in) and appears to be in good condition - still used by the current owner, actually. Buuuut, *I* will never play tennis and I know my yoga-loving but anti-sport school-age children would never use it either. However, I don't want to rip it up and then find out a few years from now I could have re-used the space/materials in a useful way. Some vague ideas we have thrown around: set up a trampoline (no need to mow under it), erect an above-ground pool, have local punk bands play on it to an audience on the hillside overlooking the court, build a yurt for yoga, put bunkies on it for visitors (the property is large, the house is small) there anything obvious I am missing?
posted by saucysault to Home & Garden (31 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Might be a good spot for raised bed gardening or a fenced in play area for dogs.
posted by pappy at 9:23 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Raise chickens? Or other small animals? Build a tiny cabin for guests? Cultivate some kind of special plant life? Make a pond and arbour as a tiny private garden? So many possibilities abound. I wish you well in whatever you do with it.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 9:33 AM on May 22, 2015

Best answer: Roller-disco!
posted by Nerd of the North at 9:36 AM on May 22, 2015 [11 favorites]

Maybe don't set up a trampoline where the ground is paved. Someone bouncing the wrong way and falling could be really castastrophic!

Do you/your family have any interest in rollerskating or rollerblading? Skate boards?
posted by witchen at 9:36 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

Combination nursery garden and yoga practice area.

I wouldn't put animals in there as their primary home. Chickens like to scratch, rabbits like to burrow, goats like to eat everything, etc.
posted by aniola at 9:40 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Roller-disco, with local punk bands.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:42 AM on May 22, 2015 [10 favorites]

Surprisingly, just googling "uses for old tennis courts" generates a ton of results! I guess this is a pretty common problem...
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:45 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Gigantic chess/checkers?
posted by achrise at 9:47 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm going to go with the punk-rock shows, too.

But seriously, this is an asset to the property you might want to keep, if it has so much room elsewhere. It will help you sell the place, down the road. Meanwhile, maybe there is a tennis-playing court-less neighbor, who could be interested in organizing a small informal tennis club with privileges to play there. You'd collect a little rent, enough at least to pay for maintenance (if it's a clay court there's a necessary annual spring prep done by pros).
posted by beagle at 9:51 AM on May 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

Put in a solar panel farm.
posted by OrangeDisk at 9:51 AM on May 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Have you ever seen or read The Secret Garden?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:56 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Paint a labyrinth on it and use for meditation. In the largely-unused-for tennis courts in a couple of our former neighborhoods were repurposed as basketball courts. In another subdivision, the nets deteriorated and it was a spot for running RC cars around. Put a pole-barn structure over the area and use it for storage.
posted by jquinby at 9:58 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Buy a bunch of chairs, build a platform and start hosting house concerts. Maybe consider a canopy overhead.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:02 AM on May 22, 2015

Best answer: Build a greenhouse within the tennis court.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:04 AM on May 22, 2015

Can you flood it in the winter and make a skating rink? You would need to put in some sort of little lip around the perimeter, if there isn't one already.

How about making a big race track for R/C cars?
posted by bondcliff at 10:06 AM on May 22, 2015

The trampoline idea isn't a bad one (modern trampolines have safety nets around them so the fact that it's not grass isn't really a big deal in terms of falls). They'll mess up your lawn pretty severely otherwise. Same with an aboveground pool, although you might want to look into how thick the underlayment of the court is, because the weight of a pool might be too much for it. I've seen people crack thin asphalt driveways with above-ground pools.

I agree with others that while it may be of no value as a tennis court to you, it may be of significant value to someone else, and I'd try hard to preserve it.

Other ideas: if there's a shortage of tennis courts in the area, could you make yourself some money by renting it out? The current owner might know people who would be interested in paying for access to it. In my area, tennis courts are sort of a hotly-contested item, with the municipal ones only available in 2-hour chunks with a long advance reservation period for peak times, and the private tennis clubs are very expensive. If you have lots of other space on the property, rather than converting it to something else, it might be best to keep it as a functional tennis court and let someone else pay to use it. The current owner can give you an idea of what the maintenance expenses are, if any.

And putting up a portable basketball hoop is a good idea; you can actually do that and still have it work as a tennis court, if it's not a permanently installed hoop. You'd just need to take the net down. (Or you could do what I used to do as a kid in gym class, which is just play with a single hoop and only on one side of the net.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:20 AM on May 22, 2015

Turn it into a bocce court or maybe pickleball
posted by mikepop at 10:28 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Don't put a trampoline here. Nets don't make trampolines any safer, says the British Journal of Medicine, "There was no evidence for a decline within the injury cause-categories that should be prevented by [net enclosures] from 2002 to 2007. " I would take this to mean that a netted trampoline on pavement is as bad an idea as a non-netted trampoline on pavement.

Another option is to stick in a couple of nets and turn into a hockey-play area. I know you said your kids aren't interested in sports, but you can bet all the neighbourhood kids will show up with the rollerblades and sticks and your kids will be instantly popular. Even if they don't like sports, they probably like popularity.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! You are all coming up with great ideas! I had actually googled a fair bit but hadn't found too many ideas. To address a couple suggestions: There aren't really a lot of neighbours around, so renting isnt really feasible. We have another area that will be used as a labyrinth (I prefer the idea of walking barefoot on grass); there is already a basketball net but seriously, my family does not do sports. I like the roller skating and giant chess idea - I would never have though of that! I will look into the weight requirements of a pool, I hadn't known that was an issue and a greenhouse is a GREAT idea - esp if Justin is elected and certain herbs become legal to grow again ;) And yes, kitchen parties with live music are just a given with our group of friends and my husband's bands.

If I decide to get the place I'll host a mefi mosquito meetup just a little north of Toronto! Keep the suggestions coming!
posted by saucysault at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2015 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Sounds like a perfect place to set up an outdoor movie theater!
posted by erst at 10:37 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

You say it's only enclosed on three sides. I wonder how expensive it would be to build a sort of elevated earth amphitheater by the open side? That wouldn't ruin the court but would be awesome for shows.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Maybe it can be a fenced off vegetable garden. My family has planted a garden and it needs to be fenced off anyway to stop bunnies and deer from eating the vegetables, so you would have a very nice fencing solution. You'll find a lot of ways to use the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, basil, etc. you can grow in your garden.

It sounds like you don't like sports, but if this is in Ontario Canada, you could make a nice little ice rink for the winter for either hockey or just skating around. Otherwise, the pavement could also serve as a roller hockey or basketball area. Maybe your family will engage in more sports if there's a facility available? Heck, if your kids skateboard, put a ramp in there for them.

You could dig it up and put a pool or hot tub there, and just take advantage of the flood lights and fencing.

You could add a full bar there with seating and a barbecue pit and make it a patio that sits away from your house. Maybe you'd have room for an outdoor wood-fire pizza oven! Yum times.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:45 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

If it were mine, I'd crow crazy vines all up the 20' walls and turn it into a bird sanctuary (if you don't have bears to worry about) and make it a sort of patio/deck/grill area and have a pulldown movie screen to show movies at night.
posted by jessamyn at 11:41 AM on May 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

You could make it into a beautiful patio/container garden area, put some tables and chairs there, and have the most elegant garden parties. Plant trees next to it, and maybe build a ramada / open roofed structure for shade and beauty.

Can you run a hose out to that spot? That would be for watering plants (unless you want to plant succulents and/or use _very_ big containers). You might consider adding a fountain too, but you'll need to change the water regularly.

If you want, you could build a low wall around the edges, possibly with planter containers integrated into the wall.

Be careful about placing planters/containers directly on the ground; there's no need to damage the court surface with rot if you can avoid it.
posted by amtho at 11:59 AM on May 22, 2015

They don't play tennis but would they shoot hoops?

BBQ/Entertaining area.
Outdoor chess set.
Outdoor movie theatre.
Skateboard ramp.
posted by wwax at 12:54 PM on May 22, 2015

We used our neighbors for roller blade hockey and for basketball. Also for games of dodgeball. I have also seen games of foursquare played on old tennis courts.
posted by AugustWest at 12:57 PM on May 22, 2015

I have hippie friends who play tennis. Also, a paved fenced area sounds like a good place for a party with dancing.
posted by theora55 at 1:02 PM on May 22, 2015

There are a lot of sports and games that seem intimidating but can actually be a lot of fun...and you can make up your own. My favorite way to play "tennis" involves tennis balls, 4 players, one tennis racket and one baseball glove per side. The racketer hits, the opposing glove chases and catches then passes to the racketer on their side to hit. (there are no burning pine cones involved.)

its a great way to play with kids.
posted by th3ph17 at 2:15 PM on May 22, 2015

Nthing "rent it out".

If you're not going to use it as a tennis court, perhaps cover the surface with something. Tennis courts take maintenance; summer heat and winter frost will warp the surface so that water pools on it, and then you'll get algae growing in the water making it slippery. It will need regular cleaning. Eventually the surface will crack; you'll need to get it resurfaced every few years.

Things I did as a kid on a tennis court on a relative's farm:

-- practice bike riding
-- spend many happy hours roller skating
-- learn to use a pogo stick
-- learn to walk on stilts

If your kids skateboard, it might work for that too.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:55 PM on May 22, 2015

A local apartment complex laid down artificial turf on their tennis court - instant dog park!

We have a corner of our yard covered in artificial turf. It's actually hard to tell it's not grass unless you get up close and look for the seams.

I would grow hops vines all around the sides and up the light towers. I'd also build a huge pergola in the middle and cover it with strings of white lights. I'd also install a firepit and have some places for hammocks and adirondack chairs.

You could also put platforms on either side for zip-lining.

Install a skateboard ramp.

Order a whole bunch of those fiberglass sculptures they use for public art projects, pay local artists to decorate them and have your own sculpture garden.
posted by Ostara at 7:23 PM on May 22, 2015

Response by poster: Those of you that said my kids may take to tennis were right. We have a few dozen rackets and hundreds of tennis balls and they do play it a lot. We spent most of Thanksgiving playing tennis, actually.

Thank you to all for the great ideas. I am sure we will explore more of them in the Spring.
posted by saucysault at 8:43 AM on November 1, 2015

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