The crowning glory of all the ramps I built was my backyard mini (pictured), which I've written about before in this blog.
It started out as a 16 foot wide, 4 foot high, 30 foot long mini, to which I later added 1 foot extensions. It probably had a 6 foot transition but I can't be sure. I used to draw transition templates free hand and just eyeball it until it looked right to me. I never worked off a plan either. It's not a hard structure to just plan as you go.
|There are lots of photos of me doing|
frontside ollies. It's the only aerial
I could do above coping height.
If you couldn't build something like this yourself, your next option was a road trip to one of the few private skateparks that existed (In Perth, Western Australia, that was The Edge Skatepark for us). I can't begin to tell you how good it was to have a home ramp to practice on through the week and then take your tricks onto bigger ramps at the skatepark on the weekends.
The main benefit of having your own backyard ramp is the community that springs up around it. You control who skates it and everyone always gets a fair turn. Back in the day, even at skateparks, if you were on any kind of mini ramp there seemed to be an unwritten rule that you look out for anyone wanting to skate it, and make sure they got a fair turn - people rarely monopolized the ramp for themselves. That doesn't seem to happen in today's public skateparks.
|Post mini ramp... sad face.|
At this point I have to say this post is not sponsored... this post is as much for me (reminiscing) as for anyone else contemplating building a mini ramp in their backyard. I came across two fairly old videos that show how to build 4 foot high mini ramps properly.
This height of ramp is great for a backyard because it's a good size for beginners to learn and still a lot of fun for even the most advanced skaters. Plus it usually sits below fence height (Tip: try not to locate your ramp near any back fence that going to disrupt your neighbors privacy. Consider some kind of privacy screen if this can't be avoided.)
The first video is by EasyHalfPipe.com and shows how to build an 8 foot wide mini ramp. I would suggest 8 feet wide is the absolute minimum width for a 4 foot high mini. It's enough room to skate but you're going to wish it was wider once you progress into slides, grinds and ollies above the coping.
This ramp uses PVC pipe for coping, which tends to be more slippery compared to metal but does reduce the noise of the ramp overall. You'll need thick PVC so it doesn't break and/or you can fill it solid with sand for extra support (and cap the ends).
The great thing about this ramp is that it's modular, so you can store it away or move it if you need to. Easy to make wider too... just build another next to it and bolt them together for 16 feet of perfect mini ramp!
Easy Half Pipe
If you want something a little wider the following video from Vice.com shows how to build a 12 foot wide mini ramp and has a few extra tips for perfect transition templates and improved ramp surfaces.
If you are contemplating building a backyard ramp but a 4 foot high ramp looks a little too big. I can tell you a 2 foot high mini ramp is just as fun and costs less to make. The basic plan is the same as a 4 foot ramp (same transition) just cut it off at 2 feet high. You may want to reduce the length of the flat to 6 rather than 8 feet too otherwise the smaller transition might not give you enough speed over 8 feet of flat to do tricks.