Having the perfect outdoor space is something that many New Yorkers would trip even their best friend down a flight of stairs to get. But after you have made your deal with the devil - or emptied your bank account - to get one, it takes a keen eye to make sure every foot of space is utilized to its best potential. We sat down with the cast of Bravo's brand new show Backyard Envy, Garrett Magee, James DeSantis, and Melissa Brasier, to see what some of the biggest challenges their landscaping company, the Manscapers, have run into when creating mesmerizing outdoor areas with limited amounts of space to work with.
Talking outdoor spaces with the cast of Bravo's Backyard Envy
Brasier with a client on Backyard Envy.
What are the biggest challenges in creating amazing backyards and outdoor spaces in New York City?
Magee: Well, first of all, I would say one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to get to the space. Because every job that we do is a maze sometimes, getting up elevators, getting to the backyard, sometimes you have to go through basements, very small elevators, stairwells, that always poses a really big challenge.
Brasier: Some other challenges we have I think is, you know all of us are designers and we all think really big so sometimes our ideas are too big for the space or too big for the budget sometimes both, so our challenges are trying to make our idea as grand and luxurious as possible within the budget within the physical space and still keeping in line with what the client needs. So, I think that's the same as what all designers in most fields deal with, no different from our field as well.
DeSantis: We always say that the city is a character in our show because it's such a prevalent part of our business. it's not very common that you hear of landscape designers who work in New York City, like the two don't necessarily go together, so you know we try to bring this jungle or green vibe to a place that really isn't green, we work in the Concrete Jungle, so there's this whole aspect of our show where there’s like this dichotomous relationship between the city and you know greening it up. Bringing in elements of nature into a city of eight million people, So all of our supplies are from outside of the city they all have to be brought in from Long Island or upstate New York, and you know that poses a challenge as far as transportation, and like Garrett said getting these elements into a 50-story building. You know, working with small service elevators, trees aren't meant to go in 10 ft elevators.
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Magee: Sometimes we've had to do, you know sometimes we had to do a crane to get these large trees up to these rooftops, or sometimes we've even had to take the elevator down the floor and put it on top of the elevator taking it up to another floor of the building so we get very creative.
Your new show, Backyard Envy, follows you as you take your business outside of the city lines and into the suburbs. Was having the extra space a breath of fresh air for you guys?
Magee: (laughs) Yes it was, literally a breath of fresh air.
DeSantis: Just having the space to actually lay things out and actually having the ability to be able to bring in excavators and you know large, you know heavy machinery, heavy equipment, you can’t do that in a backyard in Brooklyn, where brownstones are all connected, everything has to be done by hand, when we get a delivery of blue-stone to do a patio in a backyard in Brooklyn, each individual piece of blue-stone has to be brought in by hand, downstairs, through the house, and then back down into the yard. But in the suburbs, you can just drop a pallet in the yard and you’re done.
Brasier: And I will always remark that when we would pull up to these suburban jobs how I was so in love with the parking situation because you just pull up into the driveway, as opposed to here where we make a joke in the city of how do we get through this job without getting our car towed? To me, the little things like parking and stuff like that were the little moments of reprieve that I celebrated.
Magee: Right, and for me, I feel like being out in the suburbs is such a large blank canvas to work with, you know like working in the city is so much more limited with space, and once you get out to the suburbs it’s just like any crazy idea that we’ve ever had that just wasn’t feasible in the city, pretty much anything can go in the suburbs. Much more of a nice creative experience.
Brasier: You know, in all honesty, all of us are saying how much we loved it, but watch the show and you’ll see that the second we get to the suburbs, we’re all complaining about when do we get to go back to go back to Brooklyn. So it goes both ways.
Backyard Envy premieres on Thursday, January 17th at 10 pm on Bravo.
Backyard Envy - Trailer: