On a recent summer weekend, my husband’s side of the family gathered to help build a new patio for his grandparents.   I had some concerns because I am not the most hands-on girl when it comes to outdoor projects. I didn’t want to be “that girl” -- the one who’s lack of technical prowess actually slows the group down instead of helping. I spent the morning taking care of light duty tasks and observing how others behaved in this large group-work environment.

After lunch I decided to do what would benefit the group most…I gathered the kids and went to the pool!  These are some tips to help you be more successful if you find yourself in a similar situation this summer.

1. Set the Stage

Most DIY projects begin with called-in favors from some of your closest friends.  Which means, a conglomeration of tools, equipment and supplies.  To help avoid wasted time, set up a table or specific area just outside of the work zone to be home for all of the supplies.  Keeping everything in one area will help keep the job on task.

2. Keep It Clean

My husband tells me this is the task of the unsung heroes on an outdoor summer project.  Whether it’s empty water bottles or product packaging, the junk tends to pile up on job sites.  Keeping it clean means the project stays on task.  If this is taken care of, it’s likely that the guys won’t even notice, so don’t expect a thank you.  Like I said…unsung heroes!

3. Be The Runner

Even the most well planned outdoor project will encounter hiccups.  One of the most common: An unexpected supply run.  At the beginning of the day let everyone helping out know that you that you are ready and willing to run errands.

4. Knowledge is Power

There is nothing wrong with being uninformed about outdoorsy “man stuff,” but if you truly want to be a help on the project, do your research!  Laying a patio, building a fence, adding landscaping…there are YouTube videos available on all of these topics.  Become familiar before its go-time and you’ll have a much better idea of when to jump in and shine, or when to stay out of the way.

Of course, I made the mistake of waiting until after the project was complete to ask my husband how I could have been more helpful.  My hope is that these tips will help take you from dead weight to project hero.  Do you have advice to share from projects you've completed around your house?  Leave your comments below!