This one beats out both a front deck and a swimming pool.

By Maggie Seaver
September 26, 2019

For many homebuyers, homeowners, and straight-up home dreamers, a spacious backyard means endless possibilities. Fill it with comfy outdoor furniture, easily host outdoor parties, cultivate your dream backyard garden, and simply spend more time outside relaxing, playing, and getting in touch with Mother Nature—all without leaving your property. Sounds pretty wonderful, right?

That’s likely why homeowners value their precious backyard space more than any other outdoor home feature, according to a survey by Porch.com, an online home improvement contractor marketplace. It polled nearly 1,000 homeowners to find out just how highly they value outdoor yard space and how this outdoor feature influences how often they get outside to enjoy the open air on their own or with their families and pets. 

Between six main outdoor home amenities—a large backyard, a back deck, outdoor entertaining space, a large front yard, a front deck, or a pool—nearly 70 percent of homeowners named a large backyard as their number-one, gotta-have-it outdoor element. As lovely as having a pool sounds, realistically, homeowners seem to value that amenity the least (only 25 percent picked a swimming pool as their top-favored feature), especially when given a one-or-the-other choice between that and yard space. 

And interestingly, homeowners also seem to covet privacy in addition to more space: A large backyard is more ideal than a large front yard (only 34 percent), while a back deck (51 percent) trumps a front deck (30 percent). Seeing as most survey takers want these features in order to spend more time outside with their families and maintain an active lifestyle, it’s no surprise they’d want to do so in a more private, back-of-the-house spot. And on the flip side, understandably, those who have their eye on a lovely front yard are more interested in upping their home’s curb appeal than for recreational use.

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We know how dreamy the idea of a sprawling backyard is, but most homeowners and buyers really are looking to invest in making that dream a reality. In other words, they consider these elements needs rather than aspirational wants. For example, 80 percent of respondents believe having sufficient yard space encourages them to be more active. They're looking for places where they can foster a healthy, active lifestyle—not just show off impressive landscaping or host big parties and most are likely to pass on properties that lack their this desired feature. It makes perfect sense then that a place without a big backyard is pretty much a deal breaker for 77 percent of survey takers. 

So, are homeowners following through on their initial claim to need outdoor space? Per the survey, people who have a backyard reported being outside an average of 1.2 hours more every week than those who don’t. Of course, not everyone who'd love a backyard has one, but it goes to show the difference that owning a little slice of outdoor space can make. By generation, Baby Boomers spent the most time outside, followed by Gen Xers, and Millennials.

While having a nice backyard (or front yard, pool, or deck) might look fabulous and invite compliments from friends, family, and neighbors, it’s also a surprisingly practical element for boosting families’ activity levels and connection with the great outdoors. No wonder it's at the top of so many house hunters' must-have lists.

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