Go Green- Eco-Friendly Back Yard Ice Rink Go Green- Eco-Friendly Back Yard Ice Rink

If you live in an area with cold winters and enjoy a backyard ice skating rink for yourself or the kids, consider how to go green with your design. There are ways to build your rink and not harm the environment.

What You Will Need:

•    Wooden stakes
•    Roll of string
•    String level
•    Shovel
•    Rake
•    Garden hose with an adjustable nozzle

Step 1: Soil Preparation

Before the winter starts, you need to plan the area where you want to build the rink. It is better to prepare the area before the “deep freeze” arrives. The best location is a flat area of your backyard that is a large enough to have an enjoyable rink. Use the wooden stakes to mark the corners and tie a string to each stake to define the area.

If the area has grass, cut it and remove it in sections. You can replace it after the ground work preparation is complete.  Loosen the soil and with a stiff rake, level the area and remove any large rocks and sharp objects. To check for a level area tie a string diagonally from the boundary stakes. The height of the string should be the same measurement from the base of the rink to the string at both ends.

Gently hang a string level onto the string to check for level. Adjust to make the area as level as possible. Remember water seeks its own level, so if the area is not level, you will have thick ice in one spot and thin ice in another.

Step 2: Rink Boundaries

If you like, you can build up a mound of soil about 6 inches in height to define the boundaries before winter starts. Otherwise wait for the winter freeze and your first big snowfall. If the rink is for figure skating, this kind of boundary should be fine. If you plan to use it for hockey type activities, you might want to build a wooden frame level with the rink surface. You can build before the snowfall, or else make sure the frame is smaller than the boundaries and add as you start filling the rink surface.

Once the temperatures drop below freezing, and you have a good snowfall, build up the boundaries with snow. Pack the snow down until firm and formed. Lightly spray water over the snow to moisten and let it freeze solid. Continue this process a few times until your boundary mound has become solid.

Step 3: Rink Surface

After the boundary mound is solid, start spraying water on the rink surface area. If there is snow on the rink surface, pack it down as much as possible, trying to keep it level. Next, you need to add water to build up the surface at small increments. The best is about 1/3 inch of water and then let it freeze overnight. After you have a decent base layer, add the water from a running hose. Spraying can leave a surface that is not smooth. Continue adding water in increments until you have 1 ½ inches of ice thickness. Over time as the ice cracks, add an additional layer of water to fill in the cracks and smooth the surface.

By using the soil and fallen snow to create the skating rink border and wood to frame and define the area, you are not using any materials harmful to the environment. After the spring thaw, you can return your yard to its original condition.

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