How to build a backyard ice rink in collaboration


Jenn Nawada, a landscape expert, and Nathan Gilbert, a carpenter help homeowners build an ice skating rink in their backyard. Jenn and Nathan discuss the best season for building a rink, and then make sure that the yard is flat enough to accommodate the project. Nathan shows Jenn and the homeowner what hardware and lumber he will use to build the rink. It’s easy to assemble and take apart. Jenn then tells Jenn which plastic type to use for the base of his rink.

The three of them decided on the layout and size, then set about building the rink. Jenn shows the homeowner how she determines the height of the top of her ice. Nathan explains how to use the hardware for creating corner joints and butt. After adjusting the frame to the right height, the three men fill in any gaps with additional wood to make sure the rink can hold the ice. Jenn and Nathan then roll out the plastic sheet, attach it with staples and fill the rink using a gardenhose.

Are Backyard Ice Rinks a Ruin to Grass?

If you put it up and remove it at the correct times, an ice rink will not harm your yard. It is winter grass, so wait until the first freeze before building it, and then remove it before spring begins.

  1. Choose a spot that is level in your yard. A minimum ice thickness of 3 inches is required for backyard rinks. Clear the area of snow and yard debris.
  2. Measure and drive a concrete stake at each corner to determine the layout.
  3. To determine the height of your rink frame, pull landscaping string from one stake and place it at the other. The minimum height is 3 inches. Therefore, the string and the level will determine the depth of the lower part of the rink.
  4. Galvanized brackets or lag screws are used to attach framing lumber from one end to the other to create the sides of your rink. Galvanized screws can be used to attach corners, before fixing them with heavy-duty corner brackets.
  5. Drive concrete stakes around the perimeter of the rink by squaring the frame. Make sure they are driven lower than the top of your frame.
  6. Adjust the frame by leveling it and screwing in the concrete form stakes. Any gaps beneath the frame should be filled with scrap lumber.
  7. Place the sheet of plastic inside the frame. Once it is folded, place it in the center. Let it hang loosely in the rink. Make sure it extends at least 1 foot beyond the frame. Attach the plastic to the frame’s outside.
  8. To simulate a hockey rink’s centerline, spray paint some PVC boards with red paint. You can also make a face-off circle using red PVC tubing. Place them in central part of the rink.
  9. Use a gardenhose to fill the rink. The size of the rink will determine how long it takes to fill. The conditions and volume of water will also affect the freeze time.


Jenn and Nathan constructed the ice skating rink from a series 2x10x16′ KD boards. These boards can be found in lumberyards and home centers. Nathan used a series galvanized brackets made by Simpson Strong-Tie to secure the boards together.

Jenn and Nathan used white polyethylene 28×64′ 7mm from J. Freeman, Inc. to hold the water in their rink. Some companies might even specify plastic for ice skating rinks.

Nathan used some PVC board and red PEX pipe to create the details surrounding center ice. These can be found in most home centers.

Kelstrom Landscaping, Inc. provided expert assistance for this segment.

Shopping list

  • String for Landscaping
  • Construction lumber
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Galvanized brackets
  • Galvanized screws
  • Galvanized lag screws
  • Concrete form stakes

Tools & Materials

  • Shovel

  • Hammer

  • Tape measure

  • String line level

  • Screw gun or impact driver

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