How To: Build a Horseshoe Pit

An annual rite of summer, horseshoes is a lawn game beloved by players of all ages and skill levels.

How to Build a Horseshoe Pit


When summer is on, it’s time to get outside and play. If you’re looking for ways to make your backyard more fun, why not build a horseshoe pit? There’s more than one way to approach this easy, inexpensive project, but the basics hold true no matter your approach.

- Box material (e.g., 4 x 4 or 2 x 6 pressure-treated lumber)
- Fasteners (galvanized screws, spikes, or rebar, depending on your box material)
- Circular saw (or another cutting tool appropriate for your lumber)
- Play sand (five or six bags per box)
- Stakes (included with your horseshoe set; alternatively, use 1-inch diameter rebar at least 24 inches in length)
- Sledgehammer
- Shovel (optional)
- Landscaping fabric (optional)


1. Measure Your Space. In a “regulation” pit, horseshoe stakes should be exactly 40 feet apart. Those stakes should sit within a box that, while at least 31 x 43 inches, measures no larger than 36 x 72 inches.

A common size for backyard boxes is 36 x 48 inches. You can make only one box, but horseshoes technically involves two boxes: one for stakes and one for pitching. So in all, a 48-by-6-foot rectangular area must be set aside for the game.

Note: Orient your pits in a north/south direction so that you can play comfortably all day.

How to Build a Horseshoe Pit - Game in Progress


2. Build Your Boxes. Assuming a pair of 36 x 48-inch pits, you will need to cut eight pieces of lumber—that is, four pieces measuring 36 inches and four pieces measuring 48 inches. Using fasteners appropriate for the lumber you’ve chosen, assemble the wood pieces into two identical rectangular boxes.

3. Set Your Boxes. You can get away with simply setting your boxes on the ground, but it’s preferable to dig trenches so that each box can sit flush to the ground. If you want, place landscaping fabric at the bottom of each pit. This suppresses weed growth and keeps sand from sinking into the dirt.

4. Set Your Stakes. Set your stakes a minimum of 21 inches from the front of your box. Be sure the stakes are sticking up about 14 or 15 inches from the ground. Drive the stakes on a bias, so they lean toward the other pit at a slight angle of about 3 inches.

5. Add Your Sand. Fill both pits with sand. The type used for sandboxes is the best and most accessible in stores. Depending on the exact dimensions of the boxes you’ve built, expect to use five or six bags of sand to fill each pit. There’s nothing left to do now but to grab a brew and start pitching….

If you want to invest more real estate and effort, you can upgrade your pit with backboards and pitching platforms. Most of the time, however, a no-frills design is more than enough to enthrall players of all ages and skill levels. If only “scoring a ringer” were as easy as it is to build a horshoe pit!

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