How to Maintain an Outdoor Rink

An ice hockey net sitting on an outdoor rink
When consistently cold weather sets in, you soon hear that outdoor rink calling. Or maybe that’s the kids asking to skate on the pond out back. Either way, you know there’s a lot of work ahead of you to make that coarse ice smooth. Unfortunately, a Zamboni isn’t practical for most pond hockey rinks. But did you know you can get similar results with a garden hose and a little sweat equity? In this article we’ll explain how to Zamboni a pond and provide some tips for resurfacing and maintaining a pond ice rink.

If you would rather work up a sweat skating around with the kids, consider hiring someone to snowplow your pond for you.

Related Topic: How to Plow Snow

How to Make Pond Ice Smooth

The beauty of a pond ice rink is that it’s nearby, free, and in the open air. The downside is it’s often pitted with bumps. Perhaps a previous thaw left slushy, uneven ice to refreeze. Or maybe the wind left bumps when the water froze. Now it’s rough, taking away some—not all, but some—of the joy of skating. Here are a few tips on how to smooth ice on a pond.

  • Add a Fresh Layer of Ice: You can fill most of the lines and smooth out bumps by adding a new layer of water. Using a hose, you can either pump water from the pond itself, or if your house is close enough, you can use the water from your well to spread an even layer of water over the cleared ice. Because the water is warmer than the ice, it will melt the top layer, smoothing out the surface before freezing again.
  • Add Extra Gloss: If you want a glasslike finish, heat the water before spreading it over the pond. The extra heat makes quick work of those bumps, leaving you with sleek, smooth ice.
  • Work on a Cold, Clear Day: If it’s too warm, the new layer of ice won’t freeze as quickly. Between −7° and −20° is a good range for rink maintenance. Try to pick a calm day because the wind will put ridges in your ice.

Resurfacing Pond Ice

If it’s been a while since you used the pond, or if you’ve had significant snowfall since, you will have your work cut out for you. To resurface pond ice before the next hockey game, use these tips:

  • Clear the Snow: To resurface the pond rink, you will first have to clear the snow. A good shovel could get the job done, or you may opt for a snowblower.
  • Repair Cracks: Once your pond is cleared, you may notice some small cracks in the ice. As the ice gets thicker, it puts pressure on the ice. Because there is no room to expand and shrink, the ice will crack. But not to worry, you can repair these cracks using ice mortar. Collect some snow and wet it with a little water until you get a mortar-like consistency. Flatten the mortar into the cracks using a shovel or trowel. Water alone cannot fill these cracks because it would simply run through to the pond water underneath.
  • Smooth the Ice: Once the cracks are patched, you can use either the hose or heated water for a glossy finish.

Related Topic: Snowblower or Plow: What’s Better?

Professional Snow Removal Services

Uncovering your pond and making it into a rink everyone can enjoy is a great way to make memories with family and friends. Sometimes the hardest part is finding time to maintain the rink when you still have snow in the driveway that needs to be plowed. If you need a hand with snow removal, The Grounds Guys can help. Give us a call at (888) 972-8063 or request a job estimate online.