How to Build a Backyard Ice Rink

Father and Son Playing Hockey in Backyard, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Thomas Fricke/First Light/Getty Images

A backyard ice skating rink is a wonderful way to spend time with the family. You can teach your children how to skate and stay active during 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. A DIY rink, unfortunately, does require some natural snowfall before construction, but it's a great way to spend a snow day with the kids. You can use wooden boards or PVC pipe to aid in the construction or go the truly no-cost approach by building it entirely out of snow and water.

When properly constructed, a backyard 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.

Build Your Own Backyard Ice Rink

  1. Start with a one inch base of lightly packed snow. This will act as a barrier between the grass and the ice.
  2. Use packed snow, wood boards, or PVC pipe to create a border and provide a minimum three-inch lip that will contain the water. The ice should be at least three inches thick to hold an average adult.
  3. Lightly spray the snow with ice and allow it freeze a few times before flooding the rink. Make sure the initial water pressure isn't strong enough to melt the snow. 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.
  4. Once the base and sides are ready, the rink can be flooded. For a solid freeze, the temperature should be about 20 F for at least three consecutive days. To fill in holes and cracks, use a water-snow slush mix as filler and allow it to freeze.
  5. 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 deal with everything backyard rink related.