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David and Amanda Welliver's Backyard Rink 2007/08
Saint Paul, MN  USA


Feb, 2008
Rink
10' x 20'



Amanda writes:

"Thank you so much for keeping this site - I wish I'd found it before I started my project! The information here has gotten me back on track several times.

My son turned 5 in January and decided he wanted to learn to skate. I enrolled him in lessons, but I knew he wasn't going to make any progress in 30 minutes a week. I have had back surgery and am wary of being on the ice myself, and wasn't sure how to get him to the neighborhood rink - his younger sister is still not quite ready to be on the ice, and my husband is an accountant which means he's working extra long hours this time of year.

Last Monday (Feb. 4) we decided to give a backyard rink a try. My son and I worked together to level the snow and chop out the remains of a snow fort from December, and by the evening I was spraying what I thought would be my first layer of a snow-base rink. A look at the weather soon convinced me I needed a liner system if we were going to get anywhere - temperatures were above freezing on Tuesday.

What I ended up doing was constructing a frame system similar to a kit sold many places. I was really just planning to use snow walls and some 4 mil vapor barrier, but there I was in the PVC pipe section to get parts for my ice groomer, and I ended up with an entire frame. I used 5 foot lengths of 2 inch pipe for the frame, with 1.5 inch pipes inside for stability between sections. For corners, I have 1.5 inch electrical conduit, in a 90 degree bend. I slit open some 2" landscape drainage tubing and placed that over the framing to hold the liner in place. The system is lightweight and very easy to level - this year I used snow and the blocks of ice from the aforementioned snow fort, but next year I plan to use PVC T-connectors around the rink, and can cut lengths of pipe as needed to insert into the T to make some spots taller. (I will probably use a larger size that the 2 inch pipe can slide through.)

We had our first skate this afternoon (Saturday) and my son is already gaining confidence and improving in his skating. We finally had a cold snap this afternoon and I've been able to put down a few new floods in the past few hours. By tonight I think we'll have perfect ice. Because our rink is so small (around 10' x 20') I find that about 4 buckets of water is plenty - a lot easier than dragging the hose in and out several times a day! [update: the bitter cold was good for one thing: allowing me to get several hot water floods on the rink. We now have a solid and smooth sheet of ice, nothing like the bumpy mess in these pictures. I'm not willing to risk condensation on the digital camera to get a good shot of it, but I'll send an update in a few days I hope.]

We're loving this and already looking forward to next year! My goals for the spring and summer are to find a way to either paint the black landscape tubing or find a different color of plastic, to avoid edge melt, and then to figure out how to make the rink a little bigger (isn't that proof that the bug has bitten?)! As you can see we're quite limited by our garage, fence, and the giant cottonwood tree in the backyard.

Thanks again, and thanks to everyone who has sent in tips. It's made this whole process a lot less frustrating and a lot more fun!"

Good job with your rink Amanda. Thanks for the picture.

 
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Last Updated on November 25, 2009.