Winter can be long in many parts of the country because of its cold temps and penchant for snow. What about taking advantage of the icy temperatures and building a backyard ice rink for hours of entertainment? 

We won’t pretend it’s going to be easy but if it sounds like your idea of fun, it will be worth it. Here are five tips to make the process far more manageable.

Hockey player skating on a backyard ice rink.

 

Rink-building is an involved process with multiple steps, and even if you follow them well, you could still run into issues. However, you can overcome most of these problems by learning these tips. Here’s a look:

  1. 1. Measure your yard’s slope

Even the flattest-looking yards have some slope. You have to figure out exactly how much your property has before buying the materials to make your ice rink. Water runs downhill, so if you have a significant slope in your yard, you could end up with eight inches of ice on the low side and one inch or less on the high side. This situation isn’t ideal, but it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream of building a backyard skating rink.

You’ll have to get creative if your yard has a significant slope. One method of overcoming a gradient is building up the low side with soil, plywood, or Styrofoam. You can also build higher boards on the rink’s low side to accommodate thicker ice while considering that this method will take a lot of water.

Your slope will influence the materials to buy for your boards, too. When buying wood to make your boards, ensure that it’s wide enough to hold the water you’ll need. Most rink builders will opt for 2×6 or 2×8 pieces of lumber, but if your yard’s slope is significant, you might need 2×10 or 2×12 boards on the low side.

  1. 2. Buy the right liner

The liner is an essential rink-building material because it holds the water inside the boards while you wait for it to freeze. It also protects your grass and prevents flooding if temperatures suddenly increase.

Make sure your liner is large enough to accommodate your rink before buying it. As a general rule, you should order a liner that’s five feet longer and five feet wider than your rink to ensure you have enough slack to drape over the boards. It’s also advisable to go with a white liner because it’ll reflect sunlight.

  • 3. Wait until it’s cold enough

Thermometer showing the temperature on a cold day.

 

One mistake novice rink builders tend to make is filling their rinks too early in the season. Starting the process before it’s cold enough to freeze the water will quickly create additional challenges. For example, you could end up with leaves, sticks, or even small animals in the ice! 

The ideal temperature for making ice is between +14 and -4 Fahrenheit (-10 and -20 Celsius). Warmer weather won’t freeze the water rapidly enough and colder temperatures can cause the ice to crack. Wait for a forecast with four or five straight days of freezing temperatures to achieve the best results.

  • 4. Create smooth ice

Man scraping a backyard ice rink with a specialized shovel.

 

After making your backyard ice rink, you’ll have to continue caring for it all winter long. You can start by shoveling the surface whenever it snows and scraping it after heavy use. Clearing away snow prevents bumps from forming on your perfect sheet of ice.

You’ll also want to flood the ice after people use it to ensure it’s in good condition for the next skate. You can soak the ice with a garden hose, although an ice re-surfacer is faster, uses less water, and makes smoother ice. 

There are a few creative ways to make an ice re-surfacer, including filling a cooler with water, attaching a towel under its drainage hole, and dragging it over the ice’s surface.

  • 5. Install good lighting

If you, your family, and your friends like skating at night, investing in outdoor lighting is necessary. Not only is it essential to keep you and your loved ones safe, but it also creates a nicer backyard ambiance. You’ll want something bright enough to illuminate the entire rink and that’s easy to place. 

The Lumenology wireless motion light is super convenient because its LED bulb is fantastic for lighting large spaces and its flexible tripod legs and magnetic base mean you can mount it anywhere. It’s battery-powered, too, and setting it up is a breeze, so there’s no need to mess with extension cords or power sources.

Have some outdoor fun this winter!

You don’t have to spend your winter months cooped up indoors. You can create a skating rink right in your own backyard. Though the above tips aren’t a comprehensive guide, following them will ensure your rink remains in excellent condition. 

Have you built a backyard ice rink before? What are some of your go-to tips? Share your tricks and advice in the comment section, and remember to send this information to anyone in your life who’s looking to build a skating rink.

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