Residential Ice Rinks

How to plan your residential ice rink

Having an ice rinks in your back yard is a relatively new concept to most people. Here is useful information to help you choose the rink you want and to get it when you want it.  Please feel free to call RJM Landscaping, Inc 413-564-0627 and we will be happy to go over your options.

Start the planning process early

We get very busy with outdoor ice rinks in the late summer and fall. To ensure your rink is ready to go in November we urge you to book it before the end of June. Permanent outdoor rinks with a base of concrete are typically constructed in the spring and summer so it is wise to plan far ahead. Lead times vary with season and are 8-10 weeks in spring and summer, but 12-14 weeks in late summer and fall.

What will the rink be used for?

Before choosing the size of your rink, it is important to consider what you would like to use the rink for.

  • Will it be strictly for the family to use as a recreational skating surface?
  • Will it be used to train the goalie in your family?
  • Do you want to be able to play 3 on 3 with your pals?

These uses, and many others, will help to determine the size of the rink that you should consider.

Determine the size

RJM Landscaping will custom fit the rink to your available space and needs. While portable rinks can always be made bigger, permanent rinks cannot. When selecting a permanent ice rink, remember the kids will keep getting bigger. Portable rinks cannot only be enlarged; they can also be installed in concrete later. For families with smaller children (2-6 years old), it may be better to start with a smaller portable rink and expand it later.

Snow removal, ice maintenance, and installation costs are also important considerations when determining the size of rink best suited for you. See our sizing chart to help you compare rink sizes.

Call RJM Landscaping for budget pricing or simply to help you decide on which option suits you best.

Find a suitable location

Sometimes the choice is obvious, and other times there are many possibilities. If you are trying to decide the best location for your rink be sure to consider the following:

  • A more level area will minimize ground leveling and excavation work
  • A nearby or underground water line will reduce effort when flooding the rink
  • Proximity to a warming area can be important
  • Keeping away from large tree roots saves excavation work and prevents damage later
  • If space permits, choose a suitable location off to the side rather than overpowering your yard with the rink in the middle
  • Keep space on all sides for ground maintenance and snow removal

When considering a rink indoors, try to find an existing clear span space that can be rented or leased to save on capital building costs. Building a structure to house a rink can be extremely expensive. We can help you research alternative options, such as fabric structures or steel buildings, and put you in touch with the right people.

Snow removal, ice maintenance, and installed costs are also important considerations when determining the size of rink best suited for you.

Electrical power

In smaller homes, older home or for larger rinks, your residential electrical service may need to be upgraded for the refrigeration equipment. Check with RJM Landscaping about the electrical needs of your preferred rink size and then have your electrician compare to what you have. Generally larger rinks require an electrical service upgrade and these costs can vary.

Check with your city or town

Check with your local municipality. Every town is different, but you would typically require at least one or more permits, including a building permit, construction permit, electrical permit for the refrigeration equipment and maybe even a green space approval for replacing grass areas with concrete. RJM Landscaping can help guide you along the path, do don't be concerned about contacting us for that.

Book the construction of your residential ice rink

Once you have made the consideration above, call RJM Landscaping right away! During your planning, feel free to call us anytime to discuss your ice rink project. We are always glad to help. If we have not yet been to your ice rink site, we will come out and help you plan your rink.

How to choose your rink size

We specialize in rinks of all shapes and sizes, and can install them virtually anywhere! Here is some useful information to help you choose the rink size that is best suited for you.

Size Options Information
Less than 800 sq. ft
(20' x 40' or smaller)

Portable rink
Pool rink
Indoor or outdoor

Suitable for goalie training and families with small children up to 5 years old.

Also great for children learning to skate and for small yards.

1400 sq. ft. to 3200 sq. ft
(28' x 50' to 40' x 80')
Poratble rink
Permenant sport pad
Indoor or outdoor

Suitable for training and families with young children ages 6 – 18yrs or kids 3 on 3 and recreation.

Sport pad is suitable for basketball or tennis in summer.

3840sq.ft. to 7200sq.ft.
(48’ x 80’ to 60’ x 120’)

Poratble rink
Permenant sport pad
Indoor or outdoor

Suitable for training and families with young children ages 6 – 18yrs and adult 3 on 3 and recreation.

Sport pad is suitable for basketball, lacrosse or tennis in summer

More than 7200sq.ft.
(80’ x 180’ to 85’ x 200’)



Poratble rink
Permenant sport pad
Indoor or outdoor

Suitable for communities and municipalities.

Can be used for full hockey games or ball hockey and lacrosse in summer.

For comparison, an NHL hockey rink is 85' x 200' (17,000 ft. sq.) and an Olympic hockey rink is 100' x 200' (20,000 ft. sq.).

Portable vs. Permanent

RJM Landscaping can design, build and install the rink of your dreams. We can install portable or permanent refrigerated ice rink systems that can guarantee you 5 full months of real ice. Call today, we would be happy to help design and build the ice rink system that suits your needs.

Portable ice rink systems

Before choosing the type of rink that you would like, it is important to consider your options. Portable ice rink systems are ideal for those that have limited space and limited budgets. This is the most cost effective ice rink model. In this system, the chiller unit(s) are connected to the portable rink piping grids that carry the refrigerant, or antifreeze liquid, called Glycol.

We refrigerate our smaller rinks with a 4-ton refrigeration chiller and the larger rinks with a 10-ton refrigeration chiller. Both of these chillers can operate on single phase (residential) power and are ideal for private backyard rinks. For rinks that are 1800 sq.ft. or larger, we will use multiple 10-ton chiller units or large packaged refrigeration units, similar to those you find in arenas.

The piping grids are then attached through a series of pipes and quick disconnects to create your refrigerated ice rink. In the spring and summer, these grids are disconnected from the chiller unit(s), rolled up, and stored away in dry protected area, affording you the use of your yard space again, without damaging your existing lawn or patio.

This system is modular and can be made larger, relocated or sold in future, making it ideal for indoor training rinks and for families that are still growing. It can also be upgraded to a permanent system later if desired.                       

Permanent ice rink systems

While a permanent ice rink requires more of an investment, it also offers the benefits of year round functionality. This rink offers 5 months of guaranteed ice as well as the ability to be used for summer court sports in the summer or “off-season”.

The permanent system works in a similar way to the portable system, with all of the main components being the same. It utilizes the same refrigeration chillers and piping grids, along with the Glycol that is used as the refrigerant. The main difference between the portable and permanent systems is that the pipes in a permanent system are embedded in an engineered concrete slab or “court” before being connected to the chiller(s).

This concrete slab or “sport pad” is engineered specifically to house the rink piping grids and to offer year round functionality, without shifting or cracking with the extreme changes in temperature from one season to the next. By using reinforcing steel, wire mesh and a special concrete mix, RJM Landsacping can create a year round sports area for you that will allow you and your family years of enjoyment and prevent unnecessary concrete or asphalt repair costs, while increasing the value of your property much like an in-ground pool.

Another benefit to the permanent system is that you will be saving time on seasonal set up and take down costs and time. With the permanent system, you simply turn your chiller(s) on and flood the pad when the weather is cold enough. When the temperatures become consistently above 55°F, you simply shut the system off, clean the court of any excess water and you are ready for basketball, ball hockey, lacrosse, tennis or any other “court” sport in summer.

When planning for a permanent rink, it is important to take the following considerations into account:

  • Permanent rinks cannot be made larger, relocated or removed in summer, as with the portable rink system
  • Consider what you will be using the rink for to determine the correct size
  • Remember your kids will keep getting bigger, so plan on a rink size that the kids can grow into
  • Remember to make sure that you do not need any special permits from your city/town for the installation
  • Find a suitable location off to the side rather than overpowering your yard with the rink and sport pad in the middle
  • Keep enough space on all sides of the pad for ground maintenance and snow removal

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