For the past 30 years, award-winning landscape architect Deborah Richie-Bray has worked with clients to design the exterior spaces of homes and landmark properties throughout the South Bay, including the South Coast Botanic Rose Garden master plan. She founded Richie-Bray, Inc. Landscape Architecture in 2004.
Tell us about a unique feature of your business.
“I love creating outdoor environments that are lush, textured and rich in color, while also being environmentally conscious, water-friendly and low-maintenance. I am an expert in water conservation, and I’ve completed numerous low-water and fire-prevention planting designs throughout the South Bay and Catalina Island. I’m currently working on a 700-acre ranch on Catalina within the nature conservatory.”
What challenges are specific to your industry?
“Design is a creative process that requires intuition and quick instinct. My clients can’t always put their vision into words, so I help shape and transform it into reality—which requires the art of quick hand sketches and 3D images. Each project is its own challenge since no garden is the same. I pride myself on being able to communicate with my clients—quickly and openly—understanding their needs and creating designs that will fulfill and exceed their expectations.”
What changes have you made due to COVID-19?
“It has certainly changed how much face-to-face time I get with my clients, but they are enjoying the backyard conference table for presentations! It has also allowed us to be creative in how we work together. I still do a site visit to get started, but we’ve been incorporating Zoom and 3D images into the planning phase as well.
Clients are wanting to invest in outdoor spaces. I’m getting requests to create areas where families can come together and to incorporate vegetable gardens into projects. This time has been a welcome reminder that I’m not just creating beautiful outdoor spaces; I’m creating living rooms and areas to expand the living size of my client’s homes. We are often designing pools, spas, BBQs, fireplaces and water features too.”
What vacation destination are you dreaming of?
“Traveling is an amazing resource for inspiration. In addition to recharging my creativity, I’ve picked up influences from around the world that have inspired my work. I had a trip planned to the Greek Isles for this summer, with a stop-off in Paris to spend time in Monet’s garden, but we unfortunately had to postpone. I had the chance to visit family in Tennessee this summer, spending time in the local botanical gardens and appreciating the native beauty of the area (which is my idea of a perfect day).”