Bravo’s “Backyard Envy”

The Manscaper design/install team starring in “Backyard Envy”

Gardeners, especially garden bloggers, have long complained about the dearth of gardening shows on TV, and I had little hope for “Backyard Envy,” the new garden make-over show on Bravo.

But to my own amazement, after watching its debut episode last week I’m a fan! “Backyard Envy” shows us real clients and the real gardens they’re paying to have created over however many weeks or months it takes, not phony two-day outdoor decorating jobs.

And the gardens being created on the show are fabulous! Which is no surprise when you learn about the very talented and successful team doing the creating. Like  James DeSantis, profiled recently the the New York Times.

Then there’s Melissa Brasier, my favorite because she’s a girl, dammit, who happens to be the head of construction for the firm. Before that, she toured as a dancer with Alvin Ailey, then studied interior design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she met her current business partners.

Now for the gardens! The show will make you wait for the big reveal at the end, but I won’t – thanks to screen shots of Episode 1.

A couple in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of NYC wanted their rooftop to look like a meadow. I might nit-pick about the use of that term, but not the result.

There are more before/after shots of the rooftop “meadow” here.

The clients also wanted their terrace to be turned into a fabulous outdoor space.

Above, another view of their terrace. The bill for both spaces was $38,000.

Above, the suburban clients in Episode 1 had an unusable hillside along a pond turned into an outdoor living room. Here’s the trailer for this make-over.

My only complaint about the show? It’s a reality show! Fortunately not of the “Real Housewives” variety but still, we don’t get to hear these smart and interesting people talk about the job at hand, which might actually be instructive. Instead, we hear boring chit-chat as they interact simply as personalities.

So don’t expect to learn much about design or anything about gardening, but for inspiration and eye candy, “Backyard Envy” is a delight.

Now for go watch yourself. Here’s the schedule, or just watch on the Bravo website, and tell us what YOU think.


  1. Pros –
    – yay, there is another gardening show on TV
    – they talk realistically about business, budgeting, project scheduling, and money issues
    – the fact that they are urban- and East Coast centered is a big plus for me – other viewers, may differ

    Cons –
    – the plant tips are awful – lavender is not going to keep mosquitoes off you, even if you sit right in it
    – the projects are a bit overwrought (likely for onscreen impact) and I wonder if they will be actually used by the homeowners

  2. I was pleased to find this one too. Yes, it’s got a lot of non-garden related chit-chat but it’s wonderful to see a show focused on plants and landscape design again. HGTV should take the “G” out of its name.

  3. Those plant tips could use a bit of work, for sure–suggesting mint to repel bees was among the assorted head-scratchers (has Garrett ever seen mint in bloom? It’s seriously one of the biggest bee magnets you can plant in a garden.) I also winced at hearing that Liatris pycnostachya is useful in droughty conditions because the flowering shoot tops “hold water”–really? I think he might be confusing the tops and the bottoms, tsk… Anyway, as soon as the camera goes back to him, all is forgiven. Just sayin’.

    We’re all so thirsty for more gardening shows at this poing that we’ll take almost anything we can get. More, please!

  4. The “after” photos remind me of gardens on Garden Tour day–gorgeous for a few days anyway. Who maintains these spaces after they are created, I wonder? 38 thou is a lot to spend without a plan going forward.

  5. Hated it. Agree with the other commenters that they don’t know what they are talking about on the show. I would love to see the plantings after a winter to see if the grasses come back. Everything looked over-planted immediately to give it that “wow” factor. If the grasses do over-winter I wonder how long before they outgrow the planters? Which cultivars did they use? I won’t watch again.

  6. Are there any good US gardening shows? I’ve been living in France for a while and I credit the weekly French gardening show “Silence, ça pousse!” (translation: quiet, it’s growing!) with both teaching me a lot about gardening and teaching me a lot of French. If you can find it online from the US, it’s worth watching even if you don’t speak French, it’s that beautiful and well-made. I also love that this show does the 1-day transformations (budget up to €1,500, paid-for by the show, but only a relatively small garden) because they often come back to gardens they did many years prior and show which plants have made-it, how they matured, what didn’t work, what the owners might have put-in instead, etc
    When I go back to the US to visit, I’ve never found any gardening shows that can even compare.

  7. The show is interesting but am tired of seeing the woman dressed in nothing but too short of shorts… it seems that the network is trying to show off her physique but it is not working for me. It’s just too much.


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