Saturday, February 5, 2011

Backyard Ice Rink

Its bitter cold outside, the yard is covered with snow.  What's there to do outside?  How about ice skate!  I've always wanted to attempt an ice rink in the backyard.  The fear of dead grass and a ton of work is what has held me back.  This year I decided to do some actual research on making one of these and learned that they can be as simple or as complex as you like.  I favored really simple, and it turned out to be just that.

This picture shows the gist of the process.  Find the flattest area of your yard.  This is really really important.  Small slopes make a huge difference in how much water you use.  Our rink is about nine inches deep in the back right corner and three inches in the foreground.  Once you find an area, use a snow shovel to scrape a rectangle out.  Leave about an inch of snow down to protect the grass.  The snow around the edges help provide support for the tarp.  We used a single giant sheet of 6mm plastic that we got from Home Depot.  get white if you can.  Black heats up fast and melts the edges.  Some websites say that you can use only snow to hold up the tarp.  We found that with the depth that we needed, that we needed some boards too.  We just stuck scrap boards in the snow around the perimeter and draped the plastic over it.  

The next step is to add water.  This should be an easy step.  It won't be if you didn't put away your hoses in the fall and they are filled with ice.  We thawed them out in the laundry room sink.  We did not use an outside spigot to fill the rink, we were worried about pipe breakage.  Instead we connected to the spigot just before our water softener and ran the hose out a window stuffed with towels around it to keep the draft out.   It works well, not only for the initial filling but also the homeboni process.

It didn't take that long to fill the rink but you'll want it to freeze for a few days before going on it.  Aim for at least three inches of depth minimum.

Maintenance is simple.  After skating or after snow, shovel the surface.  Then resurface it with another coat of water.  For the smoothest surface, do this in the evening when snow is not blowing around.  Make sure that the water you are using doesn't combine with snow on the surface or you get rough spots.  You can either prevent them by using hot water or just making sure your surface is clear enough.  That's it!  It took us a couple of hours to set up and takes about five minutes of time to resurface after each time we skate.  So worth it and its creating lasting memories of our winter garden.

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