Spend quality time with those you love, and reap the benefits of a beautiful yard.
Family Project: A Weekend Garden Makeover

Working as a family brings numerous rewards for everyone. Because of busy schedules, finding precious minutes to spend together may be easier said than done. Set aside a block of time just as you would for an appointment. Entice participation with the promise that each person will get to put his or her unique stamp on the project. Here's how we did it.

We helped the Hon family choose a spot in their yard that needed some serious work. Tailor our plan to suit your family, or come up with your own.

Identify the Space: Wednesday 6:30 p.m.
To ensure success, start small, especially if you have young kids. For a garden project, find a doable area that can be finished and enjoyed by the time you have to return to work on Monday. Our site measured 8 x 12 feet and once held a play fort. Take note of special features, and use them to your benefit.

Dream Big: Thursday 7 p.m.
Turn off the television, and pull out the paper. Ask each family member to write (or draw a picture of) what he or she would like the new area to include. Encourage creativity, making sure that everyone has a say in the design. Appoint a scribe to record a list of materials you'll need to buy. Shopping and a Pizza: Friday 6 p.m.

Hit the aisles of your favorite stores to purchase supplies. Now's a great time to share your knowledge about what paint is best for certain jobs and how to pick a healthy plant--or to admit that even you don't always know the answers and are willing to ask for advice. Once everything on your sheet is crossed off, head to your favorite restaurant, and treat yourself to dinner out. Tomorrow's going to be a big day.

Make It Happen: Saturday 8 a.m.
Tackle the tough or messy projects first. They may include planting, painting, furniture assembly, or amending the soil. We attached a prefabricated section of picket fence to the two back posts to form a backdrop for our garden and then transplanted existing hostas. Next, we added a few containers of annuals for a pop of color and a banana tree to give the garden a lush, tropical feel.

Easier jobs, such as accessorizing, were saved for later in the day. Glass beads wired to copper tubing add whimsy to the retreat and bring out the kid in all of us. As the day wound down, the family watered the last plants and surveyed their work. Tired, dirty, and getting hungry, the Hons felt great (and a little closer).

Kick Back and Hang Out: Sunday 2 p.m.
Sure, not everything will be done like the pros, but rather than looking for perfection, revel in the togetherness. Time spent with loved ones doesn't always mean time relating to one another. More importantly, you will have set the stage for making future memories.

Healthy Benefits

  • Families benefit more from quantity time than quality time. To find hidden minutes in the week, simplify your schedule by omitting time spent on things that will soon be forgotten, such as surfing the Internet or serving on too many committees. Learn to say no.
  • Children learn by example, modeling themselves after your actions.

"A Weekend Garden Makeover" is from the June 2006 issue of Southern Living.