The team (James, Melissa Brasier, and Garrett Magee) have curated exterior spaces for Calvin Klein, Sies Marjan, and Diane von Furstenberg while fronting Bravo’s Backyard Envy – and with these experiences comes a host of invaluable garden tips and backyard ideas. So, when H&G sat down with James, we were inevitably keen to test his expertise and find ways to improve the value of our homes and gardens – and naturally, James didn’t disappoint. Here, he shares which renovations are worth the investment and the one project you should avoid. 

How to add value to your garden – according to James DeSantis & The Manscapers

‘Outdoor lighting is super impactful. It’s expensive, but it can dramatically transform your entire space,’ James begins.  ‘You will want to be out [in your garden] at night, as we all work so much and spend the day inside – once the evening comes and the lights turn on – you get a sense of relaxation and letting go. Adding some outdoor lighting will add a lot of value to your house,’ he adds.  However, James suggests that most backyard projects will add value to your home – and recommends investing in a new patio or decking, which are equally as impactful as smart outdoor lighting ideas, if not as affordable or as easy to implement.  ‘In general, just doing a backyard project will add value to your home, especially if it’s done correctly with a designer. Just adding more hardscaping in general and having a place to have more tables and chairs,’ he adds.  

Are there any renovation projects we should avoid? 

Despite James explaining that almost all exterior projects would benefit our property’s value, there is one key exception – a swimming pool.  ‘All of my clients keep telling me that pools are not adding any value in the home market right now, especially in California. There is a huge outright expense, and my clients tell me they don’t increase the home value at all,’ James shares.  Plus, even after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an extravagant swimming pool, your property’s value ‘will only increase by a fraction of that amount,’ James adds. ‘Unless you feel like you really need a pool, I would steer away from that. Get a hot tub or another water element that doesn’t cost as much,’ James shares.  It looks like James DeSantis has given us every excuse we need to spend our pool ideas fund on a flight to faraway shores instead – although with staycations more popular than ever, we can’t help but yearn for a pool at home.  For more tips from James and the rest of the Manscapers, catch up with Backyard Envy and look out for their upcoming book Take it Outside (opens in new tab).