Photo by sciman111

My father always made backyard skating rinks for me.

THAT WAS WHEN I still enjoyed winter activities, before I complained about shoveling, cars skidding on slippery roads, and five-foot snow drifts blocking the front door.

Just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics, here are some simple instructions for constructing a backyard skating rink so you too can practice your stellar crossovers, flying spins, and Mohawk turns.

1. Pick a flat, level surface for the rink.
The size depends on how big you want it to be, but remember, the rink needs to be maintained.

2. Using a shovel or snow-blower, cut an outline in the snow. Clear the inside of the outline until you reach the ground, but don’t actually dig into it. Pile the snow around the edges.

3. To apply the base, remove the spray nozzle from a garden hose and spread water evenly over the rink.
Use a moderate flow so the water does not affect the texture of the rink’s surface. Leave the water to freeze overnight.

4. Apply the top layer of ice in the same manner as demonstrated in step 3. When the rink has frozen, walk on the surface to see if it cracks under pressure. If it does, apply another layer of water. Keep adding layers until the surface can withstand your weight.

Photo by PMcK


More Ways to Improve Your Rink

Some people suggest using a liner or tarp instead of just clearing out a piece of ground for the ice. The liner will hold the water and help keep the surface level.

While not necessary, using boards is a fun addition if you’ll be using your rink for hockey. Rink boards help to prevent pucks from getting lost in the snow, and make flooding the rink easier.

Upkeep and Maintenance

To fill in any chips or holes caused by skates, use a hose with a spray nozzle to spray above the rink’s surface. Do not spray directly on the rink.

Another suggestion is to re-flood the rink with hot water. The water will melt any areas with bumps or indentations, making the ice easy to flatten with a metal trowel or shovel. Be sure not to walk on the rink after a light snowfall, as your footprints will freeze into the ice.

Community Connection

Do you have any tips for improving your backyard rink? Share them in the comments.