Designer Crush: Grace Design Associates


Led by garden designer Margie Grace, Grace Design Associates is a collaborative landscape design studio and construction firm with over 30 years of practice in Santa Barbara. The client-centered firm sources plant materials and accessories from local nurseries as well as abroad and integrates amenities into the natural scenery to blend seamlessly into the landscape. Grace is set to release her book, Private Gardens of Santa Barbara, published by Gibbs Smith and featuring 18 gardens from throughout the American Riviera, in February 2020.
Learn more in our Q+A below.

How did you get your start in garden and landscape design?

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved plants, rocks, wildlife, beautiful scenery, old houses, exotic cultures, music, art and history. My formal training is in geology and biology (which gave me a strong grounding in natural processes and landforms) — the rest I learned by observing and doing.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Nature, travel, art and architecture. 

What are some specific plants or flowers you love to work with?

At the moment I’m loving Falkia (Falkia repens), River Wattle (Acacia cognata), Euphorbia mauritanicus and Carrion Flower (Stepelia varieties). 

How are California gardens distinct and unique?

Our gardens are an extension of our homes. We can live outside most days of the year. It’s a lighter environmental footprint and easier on the wallet – great furnishings; shade here, sunny spot there; a roof overhead in places; walls are totally optional. Skip the cost of a big house and go for a great garden with “just enough house or in case of rain.” (I can’t remember who said that.)

Describe your dream vacation.

A lazy river cruise on a small boat – stunning scenery, timeless architecture, lots of time to explore, fantastic company — and all of the logistics handled by someone else.

Lightning round!

Favorite book?

God and Mr. Gomez (Jack Smith),

First concert?

Jackson Browne.

Go-to recipe?


Best ice cream flavor?

Salted caramel – hands down!

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