Landscape Artistry in Tuscaloosa

“For the most part, they left me a blank canvas, ” says Birmingham landscape architect David Brush of his Tuscaloosa clients. “Their primary request was that the garden be a place where both grownups and children could enjoy themselves.” So David set about using his artistry to fill the canvas and create a beautiful, welcoming environment for friends and family.

Because the house and surrounding property sit on a golf course, the owners relished a prime view down a long fairway. They wanted to maintain that vista while also having a bit of privacy. With that short wish list in mind, David designed plans for a lush outdoor retreat that would also establish a strong connection between the landscape and the adjacent golf course.

“When I got involved with the project, the owners showed me some preliminary drawings that had the pool aligned parallel to the back of the house, ” explains David. “I told them that my inclination was to extend the pool away from the house toward the fairway to create that desired connection.”

Along with this change of location, David and the owners decided to surround the pool with grass instead of a more traditional pool deck. “I think it’s one of the best things we did on the project, ” says David. “The grass around the pool and in the garden behind gives the subtle illusion that the fairway beyond is a grand extension of the space.”

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ABOVE LEFT Although it was fabricated within the last decade, the courtyard fountain looks like it could be a couple hundred years old. “I especially love the spigots, ” says David. “They remind me of gargoyles.”

In keeping with the classical style of the Hank Long-designed home, David played upon symmetry in the surroundings. “I felt like the success of the landscape was largely based on its ability to capture the personality of the house, ” he explains. “Within the symmetrical elements of the design, there are also several garden rooms that lend depth to the space.”

Evergreens establish the main structure of the planted areas. The result is what the landscape architect refers to as a “sophisticated neutrality.” In the same way, trees and plantings in the parterre garden at the front of the house were intentionally chosen for their simplicity and somewhat austere appearance. “I gave the option of adding seasonal color for interest within designated areas, ” says David.

Deciduous plants, such as Lacebark Elm, Dwarf Japanese Maple, and Beauty Bush, add a healthy balance throughout the garden by bringing more color to the palette. The design also includes an area that can be converted into a kitchen/herb garden. It’s these added elements that seem to be David’s final brushstrokes in the transformation from empty canvas to inspired masterpiece.

ABOVE Yoshino Cryptomeria trees line the iron fence behind an aged stone bench, creating a natural partition of privacy from the fairway behind the house.

When it comes to his designs, landscape architect David Brush gives every detail his undivided attention. Check out some of the key elements to this garden plan.

1. A parterre garden consisting of Common and Green Beauty Boxwoods offers arriving guests a glimpse of the sophisticated garden beyond. David planted Standard Liberty hollies within the parterre to balance the grand scale of the house. Mondo grass fills in the spaces between the hedges.

2. “I knew I wanted to include a fountain in that space, ” David says of the water feature at one end of the pool. “I like that it commands attention without detracting from the greater views.”

3. Symmetry plays a vital role within the landscape, offering an extension of the classical style of the house.

4. An area directly off of the kitchen can be converted into a convenient herb garden for the budding chef.

5. Surrounding the pool with grass rather than a traditional pool deck allows the pool to become more in sync with the garden. It also means no hot concrete to walk on during those sunny summer days.


Landscape architect David Brush counts himself as fortunate to love his chosen profession. “The combination of my clients, the architecture, and the lay of the land makes each project refreshing and unique, ” he explains. “It’s incredibly rewarding to work with clients to help them realize their dreams.”

David’s early professional years were spent under the steady guidance of luminaries Ben Page and then Nimrod Long. In early 2005, he founded David N. Brush Landscape Architecture, where he continues to specialize in residential design. David says one of his hallmarks is “taking classical principles and then adding a modern twist to create dynamic, living pieces of art.”

text by Julie Gillis • photos by Jean Allsopp

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