The Decorators of Bravo’s Backyard Envy Answer the Socialite Seven

6 Min Read
Bravo's Backyard Envy

Bravo’s hit series Backyard Envy follows a team of landscapers as they work their magic to beautify the spaces of the Big Apple.

Manscapers is New York City's most exclusive exterior design and landscaping firm, specializing in full outdoor renovation design for the area's most demanding clients. From rooftops in Manhattan to backyards in the burbs, this series follows James DeSantis, Garrett Magee and Melissa Brasier as they transform barren outdoor spaces into lush, jaw-dropping oases.

These “Two Wills and a Grace” are put to the test as they juggle tight deadlines, multiple clients and each other.

Get to know more about this talented team as James, Garrett and Melissa answer the Socialite Seven!

When did you know that you wanted to work in exterior design?

We all have had slightly different timing regarding when we knew we wanted to work in exteriors. But the sentiment was all pretty much the same! We all were frustrated at a job or in the past career that we had and saw a unique and undersaturated market in exterior design.

Mel was working as a general contracting building bars and restaurants and saw an opportunity in the plant and floral design as she continued to get asked to do it for her clients, James was working at Ralph Lauren designing stores, and saw that all of the trades that were doing the exterior work were never up to par, and had so many private interior clients constantly asking for Garden or landscape recommendations, Garrett was working in graphic design, and editing, and wanted to apply his creative skills into using his hands instead of behind a desk and monitor.

We all still feel the market is very under-developed, which makes it easier to stand out and less competitive (in other words there's a lot of space for other businesses and people trying to get into the trade, and we find ourselves even turning work away).

What advice do you have for people trying to fix up their yards in the age of COVID?
Don't bite off more than you can chew! Start small, and in the areas closest to the house, the area's that you'll use the most. And don't be scared if you've never gardened before. Watch our show and get some ideas!

Big box retailers have some affordable plants, and pots, and even getting yourself into it like that is better than not at all. Exterior and interior home renovation interest is SKYROCKETING right now because of the pandemic, so definitely find your patience, and don't be afraid to shop around (online and SAFELY in a large garden store that's open air or outside).

What exterior design trends drive you crazy (good or bad)?

-Cheap furniture in a gorgeous garden can absolutely ruin it.
-Bad lighting, or no lighting at all
-Introducing color and pattern only in the furniture or pillows or rugs
– Plants can be as decorative or more than these things – so branch out in the plant choices.
Most colors, patterns, and designs are inspired by something in nature, so instead of installing a plain and simple green plant backdrop and adorning with the accessories, do the opposite – make your garden pop with interesting foliage and color, and design the accessories, textiles and finishes in a more solid or monochrome tone.

Describe your dream backyard.

They're all different for each of us. I think Mel's is a large sprawling space with half lawn, half hardscaping, a big pool, and space for entertaining. Garrett's space would definitely have a large garden to tend to, be well shaded and private, and ample space for a beautiful dinner party – and definitely some Instagrammable social media moments. James’s yard would be cocktail centric, with the option of having a small dinner, have big lounging beds, and flowing curtains, and be waterfront.

What skill would you like to wake up with tomorrow?

The skill we would like to wake up with one day would be the ability to gauge if a project will go smoothly! So, I guess psychic powers. Whether it be being able to see if a client is going to go AWOL, or if a material will need to be resourced, or finding out how weather will affect an install.

If that power were real and we could see where the headaches and heartaches would come from before they happen, we could anticipate, plan, and act accordingly! But alas…this does not exist, and we will have to just use our good judgment and problem-solving skills until then. Silvia Browne, or Miss Cleo – call me – we need your help!

What are three things you can’t live without?

This goes for all of us…
1. Water (because we're thirsty and our plants love it also) 2. Alcohol (duh)
3. Mexican food (also duh)

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Always have a good contract in place, and CYA – cover your ass!

Check out new episodes of Backyard Envy Tuesday nights at 10 pm EST on Bravo and follow the show on Instagram.

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