Skating is a great way to enjoy the winter. It gets the kids outside and moving around in the fresh air. One of the best parts of skating is that it is pretty affordable. Once you have skates, you’re set!
But what if there isn’t a skating rink in the area? If you have enough space, water, snow and lots of cold weather, you can build your own skating rink. It’s as easy as watering your lawn.
Snow shovels and garden hose with water source.
Plastic Sheeting such as drop sheets or vapor barrier, Lawn/Sod Roller, Construction grade 2 x 4 wood (pressure treated preferable), Plywood (exterior/pressure treated preferable), Outdoor Paint Primer, Screws or Nails.
Puddle Rink Instructions:
Find a flat area of land preferably clear of any obstacles such as trees, posts or large rocks and within reach of your garden hose.
With a good layer of snow on the ground (at least an inch), start packing down the area you want your rink in. Using a lawn roller makes quick work of it or you can get your kids to just run around so that the snow packs down. Give the area a light spraying of water to get it mushy and let freeze overnight. Continue to give a light spray and freeze a few more times until a thick layer of ice starts to form.
Hockey Rink Instructions:
Determine the height of the boards while leaving an area open for people to get in and out. A minimum of one foot in height is recommended. Cut your plywood to size and paint both sides and edges with primer. Two to three coats may be needed.
Build your board supports out of 2 x 4’s by making a triangle as shown. Attach your boards to the supports. Depending on the size, you may need a support for every four feet of board. When butting two boards together use a support to fasten both boards to. Screw or nail from the boards into the supports. Make sure not to have any exposed screws or nails.
Once in place, start building the ice surface the same way as you would a puddle rink.
Use plastic sheeting to keep the water from draining.
For a puddle rink: After the first snow fall, shovel the snow to form the perimeter of your rink. Place plastic sheeting around the perimeter with one side going up the snow bank. This will help form a “bowl” to help keep the water in.
For a hockey rink: Once the boards are in place, lay your plastic sheeting around the perimeter and staple the edges at least 3 – 4 inches from the ground to form a “bowl” to keep the water in.
Make a wooden bench near the rink entrance for kids to lace up their skates. A short ice path leading to the rink will make it easy for the kids to get there.
Always water at night for maximum freezing.
Keep your garden hose in a heated area when not in use.
Make sure you use a water source that won’t freeze. You may want to bring the garden hose out through a window in your basement to avoid freezing outdoor pipes.
Snow acts like an insulating blanket and therefore must be shoveled off the rink so that the ice can freeze. Always remove the snow before watering.
If it snows, shovel the area from the middle of the ice surface towards the edge and start to form your snow banks for a puddle rink or remove the snow entirely for a hockey rink. Always leave an area open where people can enter and leave the ice surface.
When watering you may notice air pockets form underneath. Let your water run over the spot until it breaks through the top layer and fills the air pocket with water. You may have to step on the air pocket to crack the surface so that the water can fill the space. When watering, it is best to make thinner layers of ice than trying to fill the area like a pool.
– ALWAYS make the kids wear a helmet on the ice. If they don’t have a hockey helmet, use a bicycling one.
– When playing hockey, always keep the sticks on the ice.
– Feel free to paint your favorite team logos on your boards.
– If you can, sell advertising on your boards to local businesses.