Close Quarters

When everyone else saw a hill, David Brush saw a pool. He’s not crazy. He’s the inventive landscape developer who transformed one of Birmingham’s rolling hills into a modern oasis created for restaurant owner, John Cassimus in 2007. John wanted the small space in his back lot to become a contemporary garden and with the help and ingenuity of David, he created just that. Of course, the biggest issue was space. The hillside was excavated and a retaining wall put in place to hollow out a workable area. “The more space that is grabbed can be used to create a marriage between reclaiming space but not having walls too big, ” David says.

The hill soon became a peaceful retreat with elements that optimized the area available and the wanted use of a contemporary design. The garden utilizes vertical plants to create dimension and also a unique gardening method called Espalier. Espalier is an age-old, plant-training technique, which creates beautiful and interesting plant formations. David designed this outdoor space with these plants in mind when he asked the developer to create hollowed out recesses in the retaining wall. “I wanted to create picture frames within the wall. The plants are the artwork.”

Using mostly greenery and blue pebbles for edging, the color palette pulls finishes off this serene escape. The entertaining aspect of this space was key in development and features three seating areas, an outdoor grill and speaker system that can be controlled from indoors. “John wanted it to be a social stage and an extension of the main room of the house, ” says David. John has since sold the house, but now, the pool is a playground for a new family.

David N. Brush Landscape Architecture • 76 Burnham Street, Birmingham, AL 35242; 205.408.2214;

Callie Blackwell

- Sponsors -

Get the best of Birmingham delivered to your inbox

Stunning local homes, inspiring before & after projects, southern-style recipes, entertaining ideas and more!