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I grew up with a pond in my backyard. The neighborhood kids would come over when the ice got thick enough and we all would skate for hours playing fun pick-up hockey games or pretending to speed skate. At some point my mom would decide we needed hot chocolate and graham crackers, and we'd reluctantly remove our skates and peel out of our winter gear and sit around my kitchen table with rosy cheeks discussing our great shots on goal and our epic falls on the ice.

Our backyard doesn't have a pond, but the kids and I got into the Stanley Cup playoffs last year. My little girl wants to learn to skate just like Sidney Crosby, and my son has his heart set on developing his goal-tending skills to score a cool customized helmet. There are a few rinks in the area that put down ice in the winter, but as a pond skater I find the crowded ice to be pretty limiting as far as trying new things. We has great success with our rink last year. Now as we wait for the next Stanley Cup winners to appear on CBS to hold the cup aloft, we can't wait for it to be winter so we can skate our backyard!

Our backyard is fairly flat, which makes it a great candidate for a homemade rink. There are several high-priced readymade rinks and rink kits on the market, but we're a DIY-style family. If your yard is challenging consider investing in a kit.

What you need:

PVC pipe for the perimeter

Heavy weight plastic sheeting for the basin

Extra PVC to cap off ends

Weights to weight and secure the tarp

Step 1: Pick a Size and Plot the Perimeter

1. Decide the size of your rink. I made a small rink as my kids are still small. I walked out a 20x30 space in the back of our yard. Just enough space for them to learn a few tricks and stops and enjoy some shots on goal. It is fun to have a big space where games are can be played, especially with a lot of people, however, maintaining a sheet of ice larger than 20x30 can be a tough bit of work.  Once you make a size plot your perimeter!

Step 2: Set Up the Pipes

Now that you have your permiter set up you should dig a small gutter for each side of piping (not deep at all just deep enough to stabilize the piping). You might be able to get away without doing this step, but I'm pretty committed to making the rink a fixture of our backyard. Once you cut piping to size, reserving extra pieces to join corners. Place the piping around the perimeter, joining each corner with extra PVC and staking it to the ground.

Step 3: Lay Tarp and Add Water

Lay the tarp on top of the piping and secure with weights (I use bricks left over from our patio project) to stabilize the overhang of the tarp and use weights to tidy in the interior corners. Once assembled, it should resemble an oversized kiddie pool. Wait for the first deep freeze to fill. Fill with about 4-6 inches of standing water and let freeze for a few days before skating. Waiting for a solid freeze before adding water is important, this is because it will help freeze from the bottom once there is water and having rock solid ground underneath will help maintain the water if there are any leaks.

*Pro Tip - You do NOT want to be in the situation like this image until you are ready to clean up for the summer!

Step 4: Wait a Few Days Then Test the Ice

You must carefully test your surface before jumping on, nobody wants to fall through almost frozen water, it's so cold! If your surface i thoroughly solid its game time! You do research on rink rakes and diy Zambonis to keep the ice smooth and fresh!

Step 5: Maintenance

Maintenance: Maintain the cleanliness of the rink by sweeping the ice free of debris and don't forget to invest in a floodlight or two to make night skating a possibility. The ice will chip and get rough the more you use it, just like a pond. I feel the character of ice helps build skating toughness, but be sure to clear the very rough patches and feel free to use a snow shovel to smooth especially jagged or snowy ice down.

While the backyard rink isn't quite as nice as having a large pond, I am excited to share the joys of outdoor skating with my kids come winter.  I hope my wife watches from the window as diligently as my mom, and calls us in to keep us warm with hot chocolate and graham crackers!
<p>I'm not following how you built this. You show wood planks in the photos but don't list them in the materials list. You mention PVC pipes, but I'm not sure I can make any out in your photos. And the 'dig a small gutter' just makes it all less understandable. Also, none of your photos seem to be of the same rink....?</p>
<p>That's cool :) !! Wish our winters got so cold!!</p>
<p>Wow awesome instructible.</p><p>Defenitly gotta build it next winter.We got a pond but its not alwas cold enough in the winter (Germany) and the pond isn&acute;t big enough for over 20 people so i will build this.</p><p>Thanks for the good tipps that you showed us in your instructible </p>
Nice post, I bult one 32'x 48' for several years. I did have problems with the pitch in my yard. A full 12&quot; drop over 75'. So make sure you plan for the drop. It was fun to skate in your backyards- Neighbors loved it too!
How much damage does it do to the grass underneath the ice?
Thanks for this Instructable! Living in Melbourne, Australia and playing ice hockey, this is one of my dreams (we only have 2 sheets of ice to play on and share with all other ice sports). Such a healthy, cheap and fun source of entertainment.

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