Make a backyard ice rink

Embrace the great Canadian winter in your own backyard! Read on for how-tos, tips and more fun ideas

Dave Curcio

Thinking about making a backyard rink this year? It’s the perfect place for new skaters to find their legs and hockey fans to practise their slapshots. It can also be a neighbourhood hub or the site of a moonlit date (no sitter required).

Dave Curcio, contributing associate art director and dad, tells us why he digs his homemade rink:
“We skate almost every night after dinner — it’s great exercise. And when neighbours or friends drop by, the adults hang out around a bonfire (check your local bylaws) or enjoy some social time, while we keep an eye on the kids.”

Here’s how to make your rink:

1. Start by deciding where in your backyard the rink will go. An ideal spot is a large piece of lawn that’s free of rocks or other obstructions.

2. You can find all the materials you need at your local hardware store. Ask for 2-by-10 pieces of lumber (the total length should equal the perimeter of the rink), bolts (to fasten the boards) and a tarp that’s large enough to cover the area, with a little overhang.

3. Lay the lumber down in the desired shape of the rink, then bolt the wood together, reinforcing it with extra pieces of wood for support.

4. Next, lay the tarp over the wooden outline and press on it so the tarp is resting on the ground and the extra length is resting on the outside of the wood.

5. Bring the extra length overtop and tuck it under the wood, creating a seal so water won’t escape when you fill the rink. (You can also use a stapler to attach your tarp to the wood.)

6. Using a hose (early-season rainwater can help you out!), fill the entire surface with water about 2 cm (1 in) at a time; this prevents bubbles from forming. Let it freeze solid, then repeat until the ice is just about level with the wood.

7. After a few days of temperatures around -10°C, your rink should be fully frozen and ready for fun.

A few helpful tips:

  • We highly recommend you use a level to find out whether your backyard slopes, and build the boards higher at the side of the rink where the ground is lowest; otherwise, the water may flow out over the edge.
  • You’ll need to flood your rink from time to time. Pick a clear day and use a fine mist; a full blast of water will make the ice bumpy.
  • Clear the ice immediately after every snowfall to keep the surface smooth.
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