A backyard ice skating rink is a wonderful way to spend time with the family, teach children how to skate, and stay active in the cold winter months. A small rink is really not that hard to build if the conditions are right, and of course you reside in a northern climate
When constructed properly, a homemade skating rink will not kill a lawn. Construction techniques will vary slightly depending on the resources available and who is providing their time tested wisdom. Basic, no frills rink construction involves the following:
- Start with a 1" base of lightly packed snow. This will act as a barrier between the grass and the ice.
- Use packed snow, wood boards, or pvc pipe to create a border and provide a minimum 3" lip which will contain the water. The ice should be at least 3" thick to hold an average adult.
- Apply several light sprinklings of water to freeze before flooding the rink. This ice layer prevents water from soaking through the snow and reaching the grass. A sheet of plastic or tarp can also be used as a liner to prevent water from soaking through to the grass.
- Once the base and sides are ready, the rink can be flooded. To freeze the ice solid, the temperature should be about 20˚F for at least three consecutive days. To fill in holes and cracks, use a water-snow slush as filler and allow it to freeze.
- Winterkill is most likely to occur in the spring when freezing and thawing occur. When the rink starts melting take measures to speed up melting and draining of the water. Snow banks and boards around the edges of the rink should be removed so the water can run off. Breaking up the ice and spreading out dark materials (like charcoal or Milorganite) may speed up the melting.
The sky's the limit when it comes to the details and extravagancies of a backyard rink. A quick look on the internet will reveal huge, elaborate rinks with lines painted on the ice, scoreboards and home-made Zambonis. Companies like Nice Rink and Rink Rake help the homeowner create the rink of their dreams and websites like backyardrink.net deal with everything backyard rink related.