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How big is an acre? – Measuring Your Woodland ~ by Angus

How big is an acre? – Measuring Your Woodland

People who have not owned forestry or agricultural land can often find it hard to visualise what an acre looks like. This is an attempt to help you visualise how big an area one acre is.

An acre measures an area of land and is about 70 yards by 70 yards, which means about 4,900 square yards (or roughly 44,000 square feet).

A typical football pitch is about 110 yards by about 70 yards (the rules allow some flexibility in the size) so that a pitch covers about one and a half acres of field or, including the immediately surrounding land that goes with it, the football pitch takes up about 2 acres.

Another way to visualise one acre is as the area in which you could park about 150 cars. A typical supermarket, excluding the car park, covers about 0.6 of an acre (about 26,000 square feet).

A 9 acre woodland might be only equivalent to about 6 football pitches, but it will usually appear bigger than that for various reasons: you can’t see across it and a wood will have bumps and dips and other features, but the main thing is that a forest is three-dimensional. The trees give the extra dimension which makes a woodland so much more interesting and so much richer in biodiversity, and make it seem much bigger.

The other measurement often used for surface area is the metric measure - hectares. A hectare is precisely 100 metres by 100 metres and is much larger than an acre. About 2.47 acres make up one hectare, so an acre is only about 40% of the size of a hectare. One reason that acres, rather than hectares, are used in the UK is that, being a smaller measure, you get more of them in a given piece of land and it is easier to remember a round number of acres than a hectare measurement with a decimal point. However, one advantage of using hectares is that more detailed maps use grid lines where the distance between the lines is equivalent to 100 metres. The result of this is that each square covers exactly one hectare or approximately two and a half acres.

If you are trying to measure in approximate terms an acre of woodland you can pace it out as about 80 paces by 80 paces, though in woodlands people often take shorter paces so 70 yards may take more like 90 paces.

Posted in: Practical Guides, Woodland Activities ~ On: 13 December, 2007

79 comments so far

27 November, 2017

My recollection is that an acre is pre-medieval eg anglo saxon so about 7th century (or perhaps older measurement. It is what a pair of oxen could be expected to plough in a day if you were strip farming so about a furlong (220 yards) by a chain (22yards) – so an acre is actually 4840 square imperial yards (220 x22 =4840yds). Naturally it was soil and plough/team dependent until eventual defined probably by King Alfred the Great?
Pre Napoleonic Europe had a similar measurement and that is why you still find it used in rural France/Quebec for inherited small fields because thats how they were divided up when they were passed down generations I think they call it an arpent or something like that. Once Napoleon invaded a country they all had to change to his new measurements and stop driving carts/horses/donkeys etc on the left side of the road

3 October, 2017

Now setting off, measuring farm lands

17 August, 2017

thanks for the explanation, can understand more clearly now.

6 May, 2017

If you need a more precise conversion number, there are 43,560 square feet in 1.0 Acre.

15 January, 2017

Poifect, thank you!

18 November, 2016

Excellent! Exactly what a layman like myself was looking for. Many thanks

22 August, 2016

Just what I needed

Roy Greenwood
26 July, 2016

invaluable information I can use to order the correct amount of weedkiller for 2 football pitches. Thank you.

11 December, 2015

an acre is an area a man can plough in one day

10 December, 2015

Am impressed really,now if I want to start forestry farming how many eucalyptus trees would be planted in an acre of land

4 December, 2015

Wow this is enriching man, who says there is no more love in this world. It takes simple and trivial gestures like these to put a smile on someone’s face. Please people out there take a few seconds of your time to help with what ever you are blessed with.

2 December, 2015

The Reason we use Acres as a measurement. The answer is in your old school history books. Can’t remember the exact text, But it was some maths guy in 1700 worked out for a horse and plough, X steps per minute times 22 inches a step e.c.t. So 1 acre was the amount you could plough in a day

Tony Mckenna
28 September, 2015

My maths teacher had a way of helping us to remember how many square yards are in an acre.
Four boys climbed into a one acre orchard and ate as many apples as they could. They got away without being caught, so, four ate for nothing.
Silly but I can still remember it fifty years later.

ramecks mutebi
30 June, 2015

i liked the clarification on this matter, bt cn we get this published?

21 June, 2015

precisely……now i really understand all this land stuff

8 April, 2015

In reality the acre has now been replaced by the hectare in Britain. The vast majority of the population had no idea of the size of an acre anyway. A hectare is 10 000 m², which is approximately 2.5 football pitches for those who can visualise it.

5 April, 2015

How confusing can you get?

Why not simply say that an acre is 4840 square yards and then give some examples using various size rectangles?

6 March, 2015

Brilliant definition, perfectly put :-)

To Nick (above), I’d say “an acre and a half! “

28 January, 2015

“One reason that acres, rather than hectares, are used in the UK is that, being a smaller measure, you get more of them in a given piece of land”

Why would this be beneficial?

“it is easier to remember a round number of acres than a hectare measurement with a decimal point.”

Not sure this is entirely logical – how would you describe 1.5 acres of land only using round numbers?

28 January, 2015

thank you, it helped a lot

20 January, 2015

very useful. thank you.

12 January, 2015

clear n concise nicely written ! TY !

SRJohn Haimes
8 January, 2015

This exactly what I was looking for.
No toolbar or ads downloads just the correct info!
Excellent, thank you.

pholani Tshanikwe Ndlovu
23 December, 2014

Wow! I got what I wanted. Now I am going to measure my fields in hectares in Zimbabwe.

11 December, 2014


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