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Whether you’ve been on the house hunt or curiously scrolling through Zillow lately, you might have noticed that the amount of green space surrounding new builds seems to be shrinking. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, data shows the average lot size for a recently constructed, single-family home reached a record low of 13,896 square feet in 2020 (for context, that number was 18,760 square feet in 1978). 

Homeowner-contractor matchmaking service Angi recently released its Lot Size Index for 2022, which analyzed the acreage of 393,312 listings across the U.S. The report suggests this lack of outdoor space is predominant in densely populated cities where growth boundary restrictions are put in place to prevent urban sprawl. In more rural areas, on the other hand, there are minimum lot-size zoning laws to prevent developers from dividing up neighborhoods. On the lookout for more land? You don’t have to give up on your dreams of a lush lawn just yet. Angi notes that these are the states where you’ll get the most bang for your buck: 

  • Vermont (average lot size: 78,408 square feet)
  • New Hampshire (average lot size: 49,222 square feet)
  • Maine (average lot size: 45,738 square feet)
  • Montana (average lot size: 43,560 square feet)
  • Alaska (average lot size: 42,422 square feet)

Still, if going bigger isn’t in the plans, a smaller lot doesn’t have to limit your outdoor enjoyment. We’ve seen quite a few bright ideas for making the best of a less-than-sprawling lawn. 

Take the Plunge

Even homeowners with palatial spaces are opting for pint-size swimming pools. Whether you’re making room for more alfresco activities (pickleball, cornhole) or simply don’t have the grass to spare for an Olympic version, a prefabricated plunge pool is a good idea anywhere. 

Pick a Pocket (Garden)

Courtesy of Lily Kwong

You may not even need a yard to make the most of your time outside. Pocket gardens have become one of the most sought-after exterior additions and can be made compact enough to fit on a fire escape. 

Don’t Look Back

Backyards often have all the fun, but when the square footage surrounding your home is limited, try taking advantage of other areas. Outfitting the front yard with drought-resistant Astroturf and a dining table for entertaining friends and family is an easy way to expand your exterior’s horizons.