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12 Tips for How to Build an Ice Rink in Your Backyard

With a few days of work and a handful of materials, you can spend the winter skating in your own backyard. While you can buy home ice rink kits, they can be costly. Here are 12 tips for building your own backyard ice rink.

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Find the Right Spot

Find the Right Spot

There are four things you should look for when choosing a spot for your backyard ice rink. Find a flat space for your DIY ice rink that's not over the septic or drain field and look for a spot with adequate lighting that is near an outdoor water source. Photo: Courtesy of Iron Sleek

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Think BigNadyaEugene/Shutterstock

Think Big

When creating your backyard ice rink, think big. And you'll need to go with a size that fits your yard. But if you have space and the budget, the bigger the better for a DIY ice rink so you'll have more room for more skaters.

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Check for Slope

Check for Slope

Your yard may look flat, but there's a good chance you have a slope. Before you start building or filling the space with water for your DIY ice rink, make sure to check the slope and know for sure where the water line will be. And add some fill if necessary for an even surface.

Photo: Courtesy of Makezine

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Bracing

Bracing

Don't skimp on bracing. Because the last thing you want is for your bracing to fail, which will create some major icing and potential flooding in your yard. And if you're handy, you can build the bracing—there are several designs online including wooden stakes and some with rebar. You can also buy bracing from some online companies.

Photo: Courtesy of Iron Sleek

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Put Down the Liner

Put Down the Liner

You'll need a liner underneath the backyard ice rink. Put your liner down only when you're ready to start filling the rink with water, or you'll end up with sticks, leaves and even possibly animals in your ice! Photo: Courtesy of kjneurer

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The Right TemperatureBastian Kienitz/Shutterstock

The Right Temperature

The best time to build your backyard ice rink is in the days and weeks leading up to the first freeze. This will allow you to set the bracing and sideboards (if using) and give them time to "freeze in." And then once you've had several days of temperatures below 36 degrees F and night temps of below 32 degrees, the ground should be hard enough and you can fill the DIY ice rink.

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Filling

Filling

It's time to get out your garden hose! Professional rink builders suggest filling the rink all at once. And if you fill in layers, it could cause damage to your liner and result in uneven freezing. Photo: Courtesy of web.cs.wpi.edu

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Patch a Hole

Patch a Hole

Timing is crucial if you find a hole in your liner. Patch holes with roofing tar or specialized patch tape, which you can purchase from some online companies that specialize in backyard ice rink products.

Photo: Courtesy of Backyard Rink

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Create a Smooth Surface

Create a Smooth Surface

You don't have a Zamboni, but that doesn't mean you can't have a smooth backyard ice rink surface. And to remove the snow, use a snow blower, shovel or broom. Then use a resurfacer and a thin layer of hot water to create a smooth surface.

Photo: Courtesy of Nicerink

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Keep the Backyard Ice Rink ClearPavel L Photo and Video/Shutterstock

Keep the Backyard Ice Rink Clear

You'll get some snow over the winter months, but do your best to keep the DIY ice rink cleared as snow acts as an insulator and will quickly stick to the ice. And when the snow falls, shovel often.

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Fill the Cracks vkilikov/Shutterstock

Fill the Cracks

If your DIY ice rink develops a crack, pack some ice shavings or snow into the crack (or hole). And then give it a light coat of water, smooth it over the best you can and let it refreeze.

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When Winter is OverCathleen A Clapper/Shutterstock

When Winter is Over

Get your liner up early when spring comes and your grass won't be damaged. And as soon as the ice melts, drain the area with a simple siphon or a submersible pump. Then dispose of the liner as you'll need a new one next year.

Rachel Brougham
Writer and editor with a background in news writing, editorial and column writing and content marketing.