From rose garden to rock garden with a reminder to relax, and from disheveled deck, to lighted party palace, the Larsen family used their time and skills to transform their backyard during the pandemic.
For 22 years, the Larsens have enjoyed their 7seven acres in southwest Spokane.
“This all used to be wheat fields,” Kathy Larsen said Kathy.
The family was there before the sprawling Eagle Ridge development was built nearby.
“We’ve done a lot of landscaping over the years,” she said.
During the shutdown, their son Brian was laid off from his job, and Kathy Larsen and her husband, Carl Larsen, paraeducators in the Cheney School District, were reduced to part-time status.
They decided to use their down time to tackle a pair of backyard projects.
First up; repairing the dilapidated deck adjacent to the yard.
Father and son Brian and Carltook down the pergola and resanded and restained each beam, they added a railing and surrounded the deck with hanging lights.
Carl Larsen said he’s a “jack of all trades and master of none.” Brian Larsen recently applied to the local carpenters union and hopes to make a career out of woodworking.
He gainedgot plenty of experience during the backyard makeover. In addition to helping his dad with the deck, he revamped six park benches and four outdoor tables.
“Some of the wood on the benches had rotted through, and he replaced it all,” Kathy Larsen said. “He redid four tables that his grandfather had built.”
Brian Larsen estimates each bench took about 12 to 13 hours to finish. He and his dad are sticklers for detail.
“They even spray-painted the bolts to match the iron trim,” Kathy Larsen said.
That attention to detail came in handy when they started work on the next project.
The dog bone-shaped garden is visible from their kitchen and dining room windows.
“It wasn’t an elegant rose garden,” Kathy said.
The upkeep of the roses seemed never ending and she tired of looking at all the weeds awaiting her attention.
Their solution? Move the roses and bring in the rocks.
“I didn’t want to plant anymore, and I didn’t want to weed anymore, so we brought in four yards of red rocks,” she said.
They repurposed lights and placed them along the edges.
Two refinished benches were placed opposite each other, but that wasn’t enough for Carl Larsen. He decided to create a reminder of what their backyard is for.
White rocks spell out the word “relax” down the center of the garden.
“I drew it all out on paper several times,” he said.
He built plywood frames for each letter and used landscape edging to hold the rocks in place.
“It’s so nice to look out the dining room window and not see weeds,” he Carl said.
And the deck?
“I enjoy having coffee and reading the Sunday paper here,” Kathy Larsen said.
Brian Larsen laughed.
“We also have afternoon shindigs here,” he said.
The family enjoys pinochle, and thanks to the new lighting their card games can start midafternoon and stretch into the evening.
Carl Larsen is not quite ready to rest on his laurels.
“Everything’s in flux. We’re not done yet,” he said, “But since COVID, our yard has never looked so good.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.