Whether you plan to train for the Winter Olympics or are just someone who loves healthy outdoor activity, having your own backyard ice rink will be a wonderful addition to your property. Here, you will learn the process involved in site selection, grading, and building your ice rink.
In selecting a location, make sure that you have an easily accessible water source. This will remove the need to haul a long hose to the rink each time you need to resurface the ice. The next big consideration is the pitch of your yard. Yards are usually pitched away from the house to insure proper drainage and to prevent flooding. The flatter the pitch, the easier it will be to construct the rink. But, rinks can be built even on steep pitches. It will just require a greater amount of water to create a level ice surface and a careful design of the fencing around the rink to compensate for the pitch of the ground. Also, remember that if the pitch is too great then you may have only a few inches of water on one end and perhaps more than a foot on the other. The water pressure can damage the liner and the side boards. If the pitch is too great, then some grading of the underlying property may be necessary. Also, examine the site for roots and sharp rocks that might damage the liner before installation.
The size of your rink will be determined by the amount of available property on the site. The rink will be more satisfying the larger it is. But, remember that if you start with a modest sized rink, you can expand it later. Think of the use in determining the size. If it is primarily for small children, then a small rink will suffice. But if you plan to have adult skating parties, then you will need to make it larger.
The material costs involved will be for plastic and plywood. The best material to use as a liner is a seamless forty by one hundred foot standard sized sheet of six millimeter clear, industrial plastic available from most lumber yards or building supply stores. The rink boards are made of plywood which comes in standard four by eight foot pieces. The boards are attached to two by four wooden posts which are driven deep into the ground to provide support. The boards are also placed into the ground and the soil must be tamped around them to secure the fence. If necessary, both the plastic liner and the boards can be cut to accommodate size or custom shape of the rink. It is best to build this in the fall before the ground gets too hard. The plastic liner may crack from use but it is relatively inexpensive and easily replaceable from year to year. The boards should last for many years.
If you plan to skate at night, then lighting is necessary. The easiest solution is to have flood lights trained on the rink from your home. A well constructed rink can provide years of great exercise and fun with a minimum of maintenance!