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Family Destination Yard Art Tutorial

My mother loves nothing more than her family, but her garden is a very close second. Over the years we’ve worked together on a variety of pieces of yard art for her garden, so this year when I was trying to decide on a gift for her birthday, I decided to make her a heartfelt gift for her garden. This project was inspired by a destination sign I saw in Charlotte, NC that showed distances to other towns named Charlotte across the states. I chose to make each sign represent family members instead. The end result was a colorful conversation piece for my mother’s garden that is full of meaning and was built with love. You and your family can work together on your own destination signpost for your yard or a relative’s.

*Click on the image to the left to view photos of the steps.

6’x4″x4″ post, scrap wood or premade directional arrows for the signs (can be found at craft stores), hand saw, craft paint, paint brushes, 1 pint clear polyurethane, screw driver, 3″ screws, birdhouse (I purchased a finished house, but you could buy one to paint if you like)

Parent’s Steps
Because there are basic construction steps to this project, not all steps are appropriate for children.

*If you purchase pre-cut arrow boards, skip this step!
1. Begin by cutting your pieces of board into arrow form using your hand saw. Because this is a homemade garden project, I decided to freehand cut each piece rather than measuring and creating perfect angles. If you prefer a perfect look, simply use a ruler to make sure you have straight lines or use a hand miter box saw.

Children’s Steps

2. After you have cut each piece, decide on the design of your destination sign. I chose to create a destination sign for my mother representing where each of her kids live, as well as a sign to represent my stepfather who recently passed away. This project would be great for family vacation memories as well – just designate one sign to represent each major vacation your family has been on.

3. Because you will only see one side of the sign, you can paint the back a solid color rather than adding patterns or images. On the side that will be seen, paint the name of the city or vacation destination as well as the distance and a small design or color scheme to represent each person in the family or each location. (Patterns and images will vary depending on the purpose of your sign!)

*If you chose to paint a birdhouse instead of purchasing a finished one, this would be the perfect time for your children to paint it.

4. After your paint has dried completely, you will need to polyurethane each piece. I recommend 2–3 coats, as it will be displayed outdoors. Due to the strong odor of polyurethane, I suggest wearing a facemask and doing this step outdoors. *For young children, parents should complete this step.

Parent’s Steps

5. To assemble your destination sign, use two 3″ screws per sign to attach each sign to the post. I placed each screw in the middle of each piece.

6. Finally, attach your birdhouse to the top of your post by screwing two 3″ screws from the birdhouse base into the top of the post.

7. Now that you’re finished, find the perfect location for your family’s destination sign and enjoy your beautiful yard art!

Published September 2013