What's better: "building yard", "maintenance yard" or something else?

There is a thread in the German forum about unifying the tagging for the thing that’s called a “Bauhof” in German (Bauhof – Wikipedia)
DeepL translates the Wikipedia paragraphs as follows:

Construction yard is a storage place for construction material and machines of construction companies and administrations.[1] Thus, a construction yard can be established at the site of a construction company or be a permanent facility of municipalities, which store there material and equipment for green maintenance, road maintenance and cleaning, winter service, etc. and park the necessary vehicles. In the first case, it is also referred to as a depot or construction depot, and in the latter, it is also referred to as a municipal maintenance depot. Municipal building yards are managed in various legal forms, such as public enterprises or municipal enterprises.
In most cases, the building yard also provides office, changing and social rooms for the employees.

As you can see, even the AI translates the same word in different ways.

These places are quite common in Germany, nearly every commune has one. I would guess that these also exist in the UK and other english-speaking places. If you’re a native speaker, what would you call them in your area?

Isn’t that an industrial=depot ?

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Some rambling thoughts, because I don’t really have a clear-cut answer:

What DeepL has translated as “municipal building yard” sounds like what some cities in the U.S. officially call a corporation yard – the base of operations of the city’s fleet department or public works department. “Corporation” refers to “municipal corporation” (as in municipality), not a corporation in a commercial sense.

I’m not sure that many English-speaking mappers would be familiar with the term “corporation yard”. I didn’t know the term until I moved down the street from one. Later they shut it down and replaced it with a “service yard” across town. Another common term seems to be “city yard”. I used to live in a different region where most people would refer to the city yard as the city garage. The garage is technically the main building in the yard, but we’d apply this term to the site overall.

The other day, I created a Wikidata item for the concept of a corporation yard, but a German-speaking Wikidatan quickly merged it with another item for Bauhof. This item links to an archINFORM entry for “contractors’ yard”, which is a term I had never heard before. It would be a counterintuitive term in the cities I’ve lived in, where the fleet services department mainly serves city-owned vehicles and only a select few contractors’ vehicles.

“Municipal maintenance yard” would be accurate, but you’re seeking a tag for this concept, I think it would be rather oddly specific. I don’t think most English speakers would differentiate maintenance yards by whether they’re operated by a municipality’s fleet department, a state’s highway department, a school district, or a bus company. That kind of information goes in operator/operator:type/operator:wikidata.

I don’t think English speakers would refer to this as a “construction yard” per se. It’d be more common to describe it as the storage yard or staging yard of a construction company, but other kinds of organizations can have storage or staging yards too. By metonymy, “yard” or “lot” might also refer to the highway=service area on the premises.

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When I mapped a local Council Depot, I just left it as landuse=industrial Way: ‪Miami Council Depot‬ (‪53623709‬) | OpenStreetMap

Attention. This german discussion was/is not primarily about industry/commercial operations, but about municipal building yards. In other words, those that belong to the municipality and are also operated by it. Industrial does not fit here. Doesn’t it?
Some people do not like the variant office=government + government={building_yard} I have used so far. Apart from that, how we want to call the tag in the end.

This would then be assigned to the respective craft= or company anyway. So the usage would be irrelevant here for the time being.

+1 “maintenance yard” would be my choice as well and it would fit all different kinds of such like the ones operated by a

  • municipality (= Bauhof einer Stadt / Gemeinde),
  • road authority (Straßenmeisterei / Autobahnmeisterei)
  • private construction company (Bauhof einer Baufirma)
  • others with a similar scope of work

as you said. And yes, +1 again, for the operators of these objects we do have the “operator” tags.

In view of landuse=industrial I have to admit that I share the doubt of @wolfgang8 if a maintenance_yard is really to be understood as “industrial” but well, if depot, warehousing, distribution and recycling are assigned to “industrial” (as you also pointed out), I would not see any reason why a “maintenance_yard” should not.

An alternative to landuse=industrial + industrial=maintenance_yard discussed earlier was to use the existing “depot” tag and add depot=maintenance_yard (which means upgrading the restricted meaning of “depot” as it is now).

Just to complete the details: In the german forum topic we have talked about skipping the landuse key for these objects and use “man_made” instead.

Looking forward for further comments.

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Not a native speaker but I’ve dug around a bit to find to find out what they’re called where I live (UK) and it looks like they’re all called depots.

A depot is used for the housing and dispatch of vehicles and/or large scale storage … depots are likely to include both vehicle and storage functions. If they are of reasonable scale and modernity, depots are also likely to include purpose-built staff welfare facilities and supporting office accommodation for management and administration

Source: https://www.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk/storage/uploads/Depots_Report.pdf

That’s from a report called “what can we do with our depots?” about local authority depots (council depots). The definition above seems to fit the German “Bauhöfe” quite well?

I know the OSM Wiki page for industrial=depot only mentions vehicles, but maybe the person who wrote that page just forgot that they can be used to store goods too?

(The German version of that page specifically mentions “Bauhof einer Gemeinde” as one example.)


Certainly could be a =depot, but that does stay for storage of vehicles e.g buses.

Yes, vehicles are parked here overnight, but there’s a lot more going on than just that?

Used landuse=industrial + industrial=depot with few having the add on tag depot=construction, but also landuse=industrial + industrial=construction, not a lot of those


They can, but is the public “Bauhof” an industrial facility? If industrial is defined as mainly goods production, I would say no. It’s main task is service and maintenance.

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Going back to the main question, am I right in thinking most people here would be OK with “maintenance_yard” as a value for such a “combination of vehicle depot and storage yard”, whatever the key would be?

@Kovoschiz What I don’t like about =maintenance_yard is it doesn’t explain what it is for. Vehicle depot already does maintenance for train, and is where track maintenance is often based in. depot= can be eg =road , =winter_service , =park etc.

That is a valid concern, that’s why we were looking if there is an English equivalent that is as widely understood as the “Bauhof” in German.

A German will see a sign to the “Bauhof” and know that’s the place where the municipality stores the equipment and materials needed for road maintenance and keeping the public greenery and buildings in good condition, as well as the place where they store and repair the vehicles they have.

If there really is no well-fitting term in English, we could either define a new value and explain its very specific meaning on the wiki, or we could try and build the meaning through more generally understandable tags.

True, but there are many tags giving a more generic idea of the object, like company=construction just to name one. At the time being we do not have any tag at all for these maintenance_yards so it would be a step forward agreeing on one.

Again giving all the details could be difficult - a municipal maintenance_yard usually engages in

  • (local) road maintenance
  • public green maintenance
  • cleaning of public areas
  • road and site signage
  • winter services

I’d say tagging maintenance_yard + operator=xxx municipality + operator:type=public would give enough details to understand the character of the object. The same applies to maintenance_yard + operator=Mikkes Construction Company + operator:type=private.


As another point of reference, a query for industrial=depot “yards”, “garages”, and “depots” in the United States turns up many facilities that seem to be relevant to this thread. Here are some representative examples categorized by operator, with some typical ancillary functions in parentheses, that you can verify in aerial imagery:

There are also 26 depots throughout the country named “Buoy Yard”. I’m surprised there isn’t already a seamark:* tag for this type of facility.

Anecdotally, I believe many more of these facilities aren’t as easy to search for because their names are identical to their operators.


Thank you very much @osmuser63783 and @Minh_Nguyen for these examples!
I’ve done a few more searches on G* Maps to follow up. As far as I can tell, just plain “depot” seems to be the common denominator in the UK. Most often they are only named after their locaion: “ABC street depot”. Very few seem to have the operator in their name, like “Lancashire Highways Services Singleton Depot”. “Council depot” shows up a few times in Northern Ireland.
I could not find out anything conclusive from Ireland.
“Council Works Depot” is kind of common in Australia.
In the US there also seem to be a lot of different names. “Depot” is still used, but various kinds of “yard” seem more popular. The locations may just be called by the operator: “County Department of Highways”.

So it looks like “maintenance yard” is not a very common term in the English speaking world.
That said, depot=public_works or depot=maintenance exist already and might fit?
Or should we not care too much about the value, since the depot key already says everything in combination with operator / operator:type?

Thanks for your research. Most of the examples given are in fact objects relevant to the initial question. Nearly all of them are tagged as landuse=industrial + industrial=depot, a few additionally with “maintenance” added in the name or a separate tag depot=maintenance.

In the earlier quoted topic in the german forum that was one of the options discussed and I’d say this is a reasonable approach. If any of these facilities would be tagged as

landuse=industrial + industrial=depot + depot=maintenance + operator=*
(+probably a name if a “real” name is existing) it should be very much clear which kind of depot is operated at that location.

These are all existing tags so no new tag would have to be introduced. Could that be a solution?

I have to add that a minor problem is the use of the landuse=industrial tag for german users, as has been expressed in some earlier posts. The reason is that the german understanding of “Industrie” is different from the meaning of “industry” - in real life as well as in OSM. The english “industry” covers more or less any kind of productive or profit-making enterprises whereas the german “Industrie” is restricted to “large scale manufacturing enterprises”, comparable the “manufacturing industry” in english (which is only a subset of “industry” in general).

That is why some users claim that a depot or maintenance yard cannot be landuse=industrial because nothing is manufactured there whereas for english speaking users this is perfectly fine, because all kind of warehousing, transport, storage and maintenance business is “industrial” (probably more specific “light industrial”). I’d say this would be well worth to be discussed in a separate topic to clarify the differences and streamline the use of the affected tags.


However, I disagree to a certain extent. Industrial has the same main meaning in English:

the companies and activities involved in the process of producing goods for sale, especially in a factory or special area. INDUSTRY | English meaning - Cambridge Dictionary

Unless you want to refer to an entire sector (finance, IT and so on) or in America other trades are also included.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite fit here. A “building yard” is more than just a depot. Especially because “depot” in the sense of industrial=depot only means the parking and maintenance of vehicles.
However, a “building yard” also includes workshops for other activities (e.g. electrical workshop for traffic light systems) and offices for the general administration of the municipal building administration.

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I am aware that you are not happy with the proposed tagging approach and I do not want to argue about the exact or main meaning of “industrial” or “industry”, but just want to point out some facts:

  • All kinds of transport, warehousing, storage and similar business are understood to be “industrial”, as mentioned before by english speaking participants and also reflected in the wiki (industrial=*).

  • The term “depot” ist not limited to places for parking and maintaining vehicles as actually described in the wiki. A municipal maintenance yard could well be described as a depot and it wouldn’t be a problem to include that in the wiki page. Here are some more translations of “depot”, just as examples.

  • Several english speaking mappers have mapped such facilities already as industrial=depot (+ some kind of “maintenance” occasionally), as you can see by the examples listed by @Minh_Nguyen earlier. It may probably not be perfect but it seems to fit good enough to be used frequently.

That said I believe the proposed tagging is the best approach we have seen so far and it is not just theoretical stuff but derived from de facto use. Any idea for a more precise tagging?

A German Bauhof is, in English, a depot.

I tend not to concern myself much with the tagging schema of things on the map; I tend to prefer to just add things to the map, follow whatever the established tagging is, and let tagging changes sort themselves out between other contributors such as everyone else who has replied to this thread.

That said, one tag I’ve always, always had a problem with is industrial=depot.

A place where vehicles are stored and served.

A depot is anywhere where something—raw materials, manufactured goods, motor vehicles, rail cars, whatever—is stored in large quantities. I have no idea the history of this tag and why one particular type of stored “thing” became the definition here, but it’s absurdly specific and thus incorrect.

It’s this ridiculous over-exact definition of industrial=depot that has caused this confusion. Broaden the definition of depot to the storage of any “thing” and this “problem” goes away. A Bauhof is but a depot used for construction materials, road maintenance equipment, vehicles and other sundries. Call it a “city yard”, a “maintenance stores” or what have you: it’s a depot all the same.

That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.

Anywhere where I’ve added them to the map I’ve just put them under landuse=industrial with no further specificity, but I’ve always silently bristled at not tagging them industrial=depot—following the pre-existing definition—when I know damned well they’re depots.


Yes, I go along with that. But this definition has been established so far. I don’t care how we solve this in the end (new key or reinterpretation of industrial=depot).
It would be easiest:

  1. industrial=depot is extended to all areas for corresponding purposes. However, a distinction would have to be introduced here if necessary; example: Is the depot incl. offices of a roofer a craft=roofer and therefore landuse=commercial or is it a landuse=industrial, industrial=depot?
  2. as a consequence, landuse=depot is classified as “deprecated”.

I think we could find the solution here. But with the current “definition” the previously suggested tagging would be wrong.