Bringing it Home

Q. You are a landscape architect, and you’ve lived at Mt. Laurel for 12 years. What took you so long to do your own space? 

A. What’s the old saying? The cobbler’s children have no shoes? We kept having children every couple of years and there never seemed time to start a major renovation. Once our boys reached more independent ages, we finally committed to taking advantage of an underutilized and largely ignored yard.

Q. How did you choose Mt. Laurel as your home? 

A. Lisa and I were enamored with the concept of living in a Seaside-inspired community built into the foothills of the Appalachians. For years while living in Nashville, we were on Mt Laurel’s mailing list for marketing distribution. We said that if we ever moved to Birmingham, it would be our home. 

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Q. How big is your lot? Did you have to do much to the hardscape? 

A. The sideyard/garden area is approximately 20 feet by 50 feet. We were able to creatively manage the space so that minimal reshaping was required. The only things we removed were a couple of trees. The design called for a low retaining wall on one side of the fireplace, so I stored the good soil that was excavated for the project and used it to backfill the walls.

The Town of Mt. Laurel was built on the principles of community, integration with nature, and cottage style homes connected via treelined sidewalks. Now more than 15 years old, the Chelsea area community boasts plenty of parks and green spaces, a school, farm, neighborhood pool, church, retail, and restaurants.


Q. What are the key elements every garden needs regardless of size? 

A. The size of the space is of little consequence to me as long as someone is invested in creating something unique and beautiful. But there are a few important questions to consider regarding design elements regardless of the size of your garden. What is the surrounding context? What style is the house? How does the space you’re creating support and/or enhance the lifestyle of the client? What materials can be selected to blend with the architecture and local vernacular? And is the project compatible with the budget?

Q. What is your most favorite thing about small gardens? 

A. Small gardens provide a very specific set of boundaries, which in some ways demands an even keener sense of focus when developing a design.

Q. How does your family use this new outdoor living space? 

A. Our goal going into the project was to create a series of outdoor rooms that ultimately increased the size of our house. There’s a fountain garden where we sometimes eat dinner; the extended porch is where we play board games and relax; and the fireplace patio is what I like to refer to as ‘fiesta central’. The fireplace design incorporates a hidden television hookup on the mantel, so we recently had a family movie night watching one of the Harry Potter films under the stars.

Q. What are some of your favorite materials for hardscaping? 

A. We used Pennsylvania bluestone on the patio. It’s such a timeless and adaptable material. The brackets on the mantel and the lintel at the log box are made of wood that is over 200 years old. I pulled the bolders from a nearby mountain and situated them in the garden so they look like they’re growing out of the earth. The stone veneer is a native moss rock which blends with the walls throughout Mt. Laurel.  

Landscape architect: David Brush Community: The Town of Mt. Laurel • Fireplace: Firerock • 205.639.5000 • Console table: Elegant Earth,  800.242.7758 •

Photography by Jean Allsopp

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Jean Allsopp Photography

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