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Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of learning a lot about rinks, liners, frames, stakes and Mother Nature. Here I will list a few lessons learned as I think of them or learn them as the case may be.


Lesson 1
Mother Nature can hear you and will do just the opposite of what you desire. Proof? All winter people complain about the cold and the warm weather doesn't seem to come fast enough. Put a rink in your backyard and pray for cold and watch the grass continue to grow in January.

Lesson 2
Do not "think" your yard is level, "know" it. If you think it is level, try putting a rink in, you'll suddenly discover just how NOT level your yard is. In the prime of summer my yard looks relatively level with all the lush green grass. When you put up a frame for a rink and have a 2x6 on one end of a 34 foot run and a 2x12 + a 2x4 at the other there is NO question as to how level my yard isn't.

Lesson 3
Bigger IS better. The first rinks was 19x32 and although that “sounds” big, watch a 6-year old and a 9-year old fight for space without getting in each other’s way. Never mind trying to get on the rink WITH them. 34x34 is BIGGER and everyone is comfortable (the 4 of us) until we invite 40 people over to enjoy our rink WITH US. We all were not on the rink at the same time, but it did get crowded at times. So, 34x50 (maybe 34x55 if I get lucky) is what I am shooting for next year. Unfortunately that is as big as I can go so it better be enough.

Lesson 4
Kids are not as meticulous as adults, especially obsessed ones trying to keep that "perfect" surface, when it comes to snow removal. We had a small storm come in overnight and I didn't have time to clear the rink before I went to work. The kids "started" the job while I was at work. I came home to paths in the snow and footprints all over the place. The edges of the paths were melted and frozen again, the footprints did the same and the North edge had melted on its own. After an hour of shoveling and scraping and a coat of water I may have saved the rink for one last weekend of skating before the season ends. In the kids defense they are 7 & 10 and the 7-year old was the one who did most of the work as she wanted to "help Daddy" and the rink is quite a bit to shovel for a 7-year old.

Lesson 5
The frame should be high enough to hold the minimum 3" of water PLUS three more inches at a minimum. This keeps the puck in play rather than having to keep chasing it off the rink all the time. Even higher boards should be used behind the goal when you have "big kids" (read adults that think they are 12 still) taking wrist shots at the PVC goal.

Lesson 6
The "Ice Resurfacer" is an absolute MUST for the backyard rink master. If you don't have one, get one. If you don't want to pay $150+ for one, make it yourself. You will not regret this investment.

Lesson 7
A liner can be used two years in a row as long as you do not go bigger. The excess liner you "thought" you rolled up and kept out of harms way WILL likely have a few surprises for you and make you have to do silly things. Like wade in the rink with trash bags on your feet/legs trying to find the leak, so you can repair it.

Lesson 8

Snow/slush is NOT the worst thing that can happen to your rink. The effort you need to put in to resurface a few times is far less than the effort you will use to struggle with the slush with your trusty shovel. If you can't snowblow it before it all becomes slush, let it be. It will freeze solid and you can just put a couple coats of water down and you are back in business.

Lesson 9

Kickplates are a MUST if you want to use the liner for more than one season. The kids WILL use the boards as a brake and put nice holes in the liner, kickplates will stop this and help preserve the liner for a second/third season.

Lesson 10

An ice scraper is one of the "essential" tools a rinkmaster needs to maintain his/her rink. Keep it sharp and keep it handy.

More to come...

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