Expert reveals the one garden feature that won't add value to your home

Landscaper James DeSantis urges you to avoid this garden renovation feature – and what to do instead

James DeSantis designed garden
(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

Garden expert James DeSantis is one-third of The Manscapers, the trio from Bravo's Backyard Envy who are known for their dramatic garden renovations. However, while the team is famous for adding features to their client's homes, James has revealed the one you should avoid

The Manscapers (James, Melissa Brasier, and Garrett Magee) are behind some of the most stylish urban gardens in the US. Their clientele includes the likes of Diane von Furstenberg and Calvin Klein – and their makeovers are admired globally via their Bravo series. 

Therefore, when we sat down with Mr. DeSantis, we were keen to uncover his sought-after garden design ideas. The first question? What is the one garden renovation feature that isn't worth the investment? Here, the Manscapers star reveals what you need to know. 

The garden renovation feature that won't add value to your home 

James DeSantis designed garden

(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

If you're torn between which landscaping idea is best for adding value to your home, James says that, in general, you can't go wrong. However, there is one expectation to his rule: 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 [they] tell me they don't increase the home value at all,' the designer says.  

Despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an extravagant pool idea, James confesses that your property's value 'will only increase by a fraction of that amount.' 

James DeSantis designed garden

(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

'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,' he adds. 

What should you do instead?  

James DeSantis designed garden

(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

As James suggests, if you're looking for a close alternative, it is better to splurge on one of the best hot tubs or a statement water feature idea. However, adding value to your home doesn't start and end with water. 

'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 says. Though, if the designer had to pick one feature that is guaranteed to transform your space (and add value), it would be the garden lighting. 

James DeSantis designed garden

James DeSantis and the Manscapers Team

(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

'Outdoor lighting is super impactful. It's expensive, but it can dramatically transform your entire space,' James says. 

'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,' he says. 'Adding some outdoor lighting will add a lot of value to your house.'

We're bookmarking new outdoor lighting ideas at the next available opportunity.  

Megan is the News and Trends Editor at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Gardeningetc, Livingetc, and Real Homes. As the News Editor, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.