Backyard skating rink – Holiday Special

The Rink Master

The Rink Master - photo by Johnny Canuck

Hi all, its time again to follow up on our (my) favorite backyard rink. A few weeks have passed since the first post and here is the follow up on my first experience at a backyard rink.

Over the Xmas weekend, Mother Nature tried to bring down the spirits and cheer of eastern Canada and northeastern USA. Fortunately, we are made of strong stuff than that and the mild weather just helped us enjoy the holidays with our families that much more. Honestly, more alcohol makes everything all good…

Okay, so the freezing rain and the above freezing temperature made for a nasty combination on any outdoor ice surface and it would have put me back a few days had it not been for my overachieving instincts… 

Holiday Weather Trouble

I basically did nothing. My thoughts where ‘why fight with mother nature? Let her make a mess one night, let her clean it up the next.’ And it worked out. The first day and night (Dec 26th) basically made a mess of the ice. It created craters and little mounds everywhere on my previously smooth ice. This was not a good thing but then the following day (Dec 27th for those who are calendar challenged) the warm weather basically melted the top layer and created a little flooding on the ice. Thankfully, and this is one of those rare times where having a south facing backyard is good, the sun helped to melt the imperfections and level off the rink. The end result was that when I went out to check on it, the rink was in almost perfect condition.

I perfunctorily scrapped and swept the ice, then sprayed a thin layer a water to help solidify the solid base I had created.

Tip 6: you must get yourself a new aluminum large shovel that is solely for this purpose, DO NOT USE it on your driveway, you’ll ruin the edge which you need to properly scrape the ice like a Zamboni, just slightly less costly and it takes up less room.

Tip 7: a nice large work area broom will do, I recommend getting an extensible or long handle so you don’t have to bend over to use it. I personally use a extensible pole for a roller.

We have been using it daily since then and the kids love it. They can’t get enough of it. To help keep it smooth and improve on the top layer, I decided to pour hot water on it on Dec 30th, in preparation for New Years Eve’s skating season. This was another great thing. I used a multitude of buckets instead of one large one (or a garbage bin) because I didn’t have a way to fill it all up at once outside and I felt that pouring that much water in one spot would create a crater in the ice and possibly create an uneven area.

On New Year’s Eve, it was another successful outing. The kids and Johnny Canuck’s kids had a blast skating after supper. They had fun chasing each other, they practiced doing jumps, twists and most importantly, they worked on stopping. All in all, it was a great evening and the kids loved skating right outside the house.

New Year’s First Spray

On January 2nd, after the all-day snowfall, I shoveled and swept it once again. Since it wasn’t snowing, I decided to water it once more. All went well but about 30 minutes after spraying, it looked outside to see that it had started to snow. I went out to shovel it the next afternoon. I have just learned a lesson: don’t water your rink if the water doesn’t have time to freeze before the next snowfall. It has simply created a crackly ice surface about 4 mm thick that cracks and breaks when walked or skated on. That’s the bad news; the good news is that the surface below it is still smooth and usable. I have spent quite some time scrapping the bad ice to get to the good ice and its not a fun time.

Tip 8: don’t water your ice if it’s going to snow BEFORE your new water freezes.

Over the last two days, the kids have used it just after supper. its a great way to get them to use up their energy and prepare them to sleep soundly. its has worked out quite well. I even surprised my wife when I went out to skate on Monday night around 10pm. What a great feeling.

I went outside with the kids last night after supper and worked with them on some drills. They found it hard and fun at the same time, yet they kept asking me to come up with new ones. I’m  not complaining!

I have just finished putting together my son’s hockey net he got from Santa. Its now outside on the rink. I think he’ll like this surprise when he gets back from school.

Have a good time with your rink. Let’s hope it stays cold for the next 2 months, sorry for those hoping for better weather…