How to Build a Backyard Skating Rink without Damaging Your Lawn

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backyard ice rink Building a backyard rink in the winter is a great way to get your family outside and having fun on the ice. But when spring rolls around, will your lawn have paid the price? To prevent long term lawn damage, we’ve put together a few tips for building a lawn-friendly ice rink. There are two options when it comes to creating a rink:
  • Pack down the snow
  • Use a plastic liner
Although most people resort to a plastic liner (a WHITE one is essential!), we think that the foot method, although a little more time-consuming, is much less impactful on your lawn come spring. No matter which method you use, it’s important to measure off the area of your lawn that you want to convert to a rink. After measuring, we recommend building a sturdy wooden frame along the perimeter that is at least 5 inches tall to create the rink. If you live in a heavily wooded area, try to center the rink so that it doesn’t have many tree limbs over it. When leaves and sticks fall on the ice they attract warmth and cause holes to form in the ice if they aren’t cleared off.

How to Build an Ice Rink without a Liner

This method is one that requires a bit more patience, but if you do it correctly, come spring, it’ll be like nothing ever happened to your lawn! The first step is to wait until there is snow and freezing temperatures well into the forecast. For most northerners, that’s right around the end of December or in January. Measure out where you want your rink to go, then get your heavy boots on and stomp down on the snow. This is a great family activity that goes much faster with a few sets of feet stomping the snow down. Stomp until there are no holes or ridges and it looks smooth and tightly packed. Spray water over the stomped area as you go. It’s important to spray the water, don’t just dump a hose on it, because the stomped snow can’t stand up under a lot of pressure at first. We recommend spraying the rink daily, especially at night so that it will freeze. As soon as it’s frozen and shiny enough, lace-up the skates and get out there! Although this method can be a little more labor intensive, the water will be absorbed back into the lawn when the first spring thaw rolls around, leaving no blemish behind!

How to Build an Ice Rink with a Liner

If you are setting the rink up before the first frost (which we recommend!), the step is to rake the rink area so that the liner won’t be ripped by any leftover sticks. We should note here that it’s very important that you use a white liner and not a black or blue liner. A white liner will deflect warmth and cut down on lawn damage, whereas a black or blue liner will attract heat from the sun and melt the rink. After you’ve put the liner in place, leave it as is. Leaving time between set-up and the first frost will allow the grass to go dormant. Once it’s consistently below freezing temperatures, it’s time to fill the ice rink with water. With a liner, we recommend filling the rink all at once. Once it freezes, you can go over it with a squeegee.

Caring for Your Lawn

After skating season has come and gone, and the ice skates are packed away, it’s time to consider caring for your lawn. Regular fertilization and weed control can help your grass grow thicker, greener and tougher – even after a harsh winter with plenty of outdoor fun. Contact your local Spring-Green to find a lawn care package that’s right for your lawn and budget.