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  • The Ruthless Maker

Building a Backyard Ice Rink: Easy Way to Measure Slope for an ODR (Outdoor Backyard Ice Rink )

Updated: Jan 15, 2022




This is my second year building an outdoor ice rink ODR in my backyard. Last year, I made the mistake of eye-balling the slope of my yard (the difference in height from one end of your yard to the other) and determining it was flat enough for a rink. Big mistake. I ended up having to rush to the lumber yard half way through filling the rink to get more wood. I had to raise the back wall of the ice rink so it didn’t overflow while the front part of my ice rink was still dry. What I didn’t realize was even though I couldn’t visually see it, there was in fact a slope to my yard.

This year, I’m learning from my mistake. I made it a point to am measure the slope in the yard so I knew my ice rink boards were tall enough. Here is the easiest way to figure out the slope of your backyard:


Tools You Will Need:


How To:

Step 1: Draw a line approx 6" up from the pointy end of both fence pickets



Step 2:Take one fence picket and hammer it into one corner of the rink with the rubber mallet. Hammer it into the ground up to the line you drew on the picket.

Step 3: Take the second fence picket and hammer it into the opposite far corner of your ice rink. Hammer it into the ground up to the line you drew on the picket.

Step 4: Tie your mason twine to the first fence picket and mark its location on the picket with a marker.



Step 5: Take the other end of the mason twin down to the second fence picket and tie it off on the picket.

Step 6: Place the line level on the mason twine approx equal distance between the two fence pickets.


Step 7: Make adjustments to the height of the twine on the second fence picket until the line level bubble is in the middle (indicating the line is level). Mark the twine location on the second picket with a marker. TIP: ensure the twine has no sag to it due to the weight of the line level by pulling the twine taut against the second picket before tying it off.

Step 8: Pull out both fence pickets and align them side by side on the ground. Take the measuring tape and measure between the twine location line you drew on the first picket and the twine location you drew on the second picket. This measurement gives you the slope of your yard. The difference in height from one end to the other end of the yard.



I determined that my ice rink will have a slope of 9" from opposite corners. This means that if I have 4" of ice in the shallow end of my ice rink, the ice at the opposite end will be 13" thick. To accommodate this difference, I'll be making the boards on the back end of the ice rink 24" high and adding extra bracing.


Follow me @theruthlessmaker on Instagram for more behind the scenes of this outdoor backyard ice rink build or subscribe to my You Tube Channel by clicking the video above and hitting subscribe.


Thanks for following along!


~Ruth aka The Ruthless Maker~

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