The Great Outdoors
Wide Open Spaces: Backyard Retreats
When ANDIE and PHILLIP REID want to escape the bustle and tensions of the world, they need go no further than their backyard.
The couple has created three outdoor living spaces, plus an outdoor shower, in their 60-by-120-foot backyard, and that’s where they go to unwind as well as entertain family and friends. In short, the Reids’ backyard has become their private oasis.
“The climate in Wilmington is so conducive to outdoor living,” Andie Reid says. “We had a big yard, and it seemed like the natural thing to do.”
The Reids are like many homeowners in the Cape Fear region who over the past year logged more hours relaxing and entertaining outside during the pandemic.
“Mostly people are really nesting; they’re vacationing at home,” says SCOTT HINSON, owner of Low Country Landscaping, which has worked on a number of outdoor living space projects in the past year.
Hinson, who started the company in 2000 and specializes in poolscapes, has been taking on requests for glammed-up firepits, water-and-fire features, and pavilions that create a sense of an outdoor room in the backyard.
Resort vibe has been the overarching trend this past year.
Outdoor kitchens, Hinson says, are another area that has taken off in recent years.
“It’s definitely become more popular. More of the components are not as expensive as they initially were ten years ago, twelve years ago,” he says, pointing to the increase in stainless steel grill manufacturers as one reason why.
For the Reids, the renovation of their 23rd Street home’s outdoor space is a labor of love. Over fifteen years, the couple took on one project after another, doing all the work themselves except for the sun patio, until they created a yard they use and enjoy.
Throughout the process, the Reids took advantage of their yard’s mature foliage to guide landscaping and provide natural boundaries. As a result, each outdoor living area is distinct and feels as if it is an integral part of the environment.
For example, the dining pavilion – the Reids’ preferred eating spot – is surrounded by lush foliage. Chinese fringe flowers, gardenias, azaleas, and a magnolia tree give the space a warm, island ambiance; and the clear roofing keeps the pavilion dry but open and airy. A table for six invites family and friends to join the Reids for a casual meal as well as for special dinners.
The outdoor patio, which is filled with a comfortable sofa and two easy chairs, is a favorite place to read or simply gaze into the interlocking sweetgum and red maple tree branches above and watch wildlife – birds, bees, and butterflies – at work and play.
The space has a 5-foot gas fireplace with an adjustable flame, keeping the area toasty on cooler days. In the summer, the fireplace is easily replaced with a coffee table.
The three-tiered sun patio is another prime area for the Reids and their guests. While soaking up the sun’s rays, sunbathers can enjoy a fountain’s burbling, dancing water. Across from the patio is a small pond, made of large river boulders and slate, that’s graced with water lilies in the summer months.
Not to be forgotten is the roomy, 6-by-12-foot outdoor shower with a natural gray slate backsplash. It gives a resort-like touch to the Reids’ outdoor living area that is appreciated by both family and guests.
To further enhance their outdoor living areas, the Reids wired their entire backyard for sound and installed oil torches and electric lights so the yard’s lit at night. For easy navigation, the Reids also connected each outdoor section with a slated or pebbled pathway. Another essential addition is the privacy fence – a feature that turns the Reids’ outdoor living space into a personal urban paradise, according to Phillip Reid.
The Reids have found that their outdoor living areas have greatly expanded their living space – Phillip Reid says their home feels three times larger with these outdoor living areas. But, the Reids say, the biggest advantage to having outdoor living spaces is the pleasure they get out of being in an exquisite outdoor environment throughout the year.
Editor Vicky Janowski contributed to this story.
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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