This time, consistently freezing temperatures is a very good thing.
Here in Toronto, with people looking for ways to get outside and enjoy the winter amid COVID-19 (when many ice skating rinks are closed or limited), backyard rinks have surged in popularity.
But how do you build a backyard rink?
Note that you will need temperatures in your hometown to be consistently below freezing for this to be successful. So check the forecast, and then go off and build your rink.
1. Scout the Surface. Look for a flat area, the less it slopes, the better. A shaded or protected area prevents melting.
2. Clear the Area. Shovel right down to the grass or dirt. Ice loses strength and will crack if there is snow or debris underneath.
3. Build a Frame. Frame it out almost like a sandbox. The walls don’t have to be very high at all. Alternatively, you can use an existing porch frame.
4. Line Your Rink. Once the walls are built, put down a white tarp that covers the entirety of the empty rink before preparing to fill the space with water. (white reflects heat and will keep the rink frozen for longer)
5. Build a Base. Use cold water for the first flood. Start at the lowest spot. Stop when the water is level and allow a sufficient amount of time for the water to freeze.
6. Additional Levels. You will want to do thinner layers, once a day. This allows old and new ice to bond and strengthen. In about a week — or two to three inches of ice — the rink should be ready for some family fun!
7. Tender Loving Care. Regularly shovel, maintain and water the rink. It will extend the life of your rink and keep the surface smooth.
Here are instructions for constructing your own ‘Homeboni’ (Homemade Zamboni):
- Using a large plastic storage container, drill a few small holes on the bottom side.
- Attach a rope or pulley to the side of the container.
- Clamp a large towel to one the side of the container.
- Fill the container with hot water (you may need to do a few shifts to fill it up completely).
- Drag the container across the rink in straight lines. As you pull it, the water will leak through the holes, while the towel simultaneously smooths out the surface of the ice.