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How to Build Your Own Ice Rink in the City

Yes, you can build a hockey rink on a city lawn. Here, expert tips for creating a skaters’ paradise.

Illustration by Jason Schneider
Illustration: Jason Schneider

1 “Get 20 sheets of 4-by-8-foot treated plywood. Cut 10 of those in half lengthwise. The shorter pieces form the walls, and the uncut pieces go on the ends to catch any pucks that miss the net,” says Mary Cook Gallagher, who’s managed to squeeze a rink big enough for four-on-four play into her (admittedly spacious) Sauganash yard for the past eight years.

2 “With a sledgehammer, pound fence posts into the ground in the shape of a 40-by-80-foot rectangle. You want 20 36-inch posts on each of the long sides and 10 58-inch posts on each of the short ends—spaced two per board.”

3 “Connect the plywood sheets to the posts and each other with screws and flat steel brackets, and secure the corners with L-brackets. Make sure the screws aren’t so long that they go through the plywood.”

4 “Next you’ll need a plastic liner. We order ours, which costs $500, from Wilmette Bicycle & Sport Shop. If you give them the dimensions of your frame, they’ll have a perfectly sized liner ready for you to pick up.”

5 “Carefully roll the liner directly onto the grass. With spring clamps, attach it to the sides every few feet. Make sure the bottom and sides of the liner lie flat.”

6 “When it looks like you’re going to get three consecutive days of below-freezing weather, fill the rink with 12 to 14 inches of water. If you fill it too early, it’ll make a big puddle of slush.”

7 “Once the ice is frozen, it’s slow to melt, even during a warm spell. Keep snow, leaves, and other debris off the surface. Leaves create heat as they decompose and create holes in the ice.”

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