Garden designer James DeSantis reveals the one plant that will transform any garden – whatever the size

The Backyard Envy star has designed spaces for Calvin Klein and Sies Marjan – now he's sharing his garden insight with us

James DeSantis reveals the one plant that will transform your garden
(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

If we're going to take advice from anybody, it's James DeSantis. The esteemed garden expert has designed gardens for the most prestigious clients in New York and Los Angeles and stars as one-third of The Manscapers in the Bravo series Backyard Envy

With a celebrated knowledge of gardens of all sizes – in all climates – we were convinced that James would know the answer to the question on everybody's lips: which plant will work in every type of garden? 

Sharing his garden design ideas exclusively with Gardeningetc, James revealed the single plant that will lift any exterior space – wherever you are in the world – and we're rushing to follow his advice. 

Which plant will work in every type of garden? 

James DeSantis reveals the one plant that will transform your garden

(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

'A boxwood definitely works in every single setting,' James announces. 'We use them constantly in country gardens, in English-style gardens, on city rooftops. We use them in LA, San Francisco – they are just a universal shrub that can be shaped and molded any way.'

While the versatility of a boxwood means it works everywhere – from urban gardens to lush country estates, James also praises the plant's other qualities, from their durability to their evergreen qualities. 

'Sometimes, if you're designing a natural garden, boxwood can add some structure. If you want something that's more of an English-style garden, they can create more formal shapes.'

'They're durable; they're hardy, they're evergreen,' James adds.

James DeSantis reveals the one plant that will transform your garden

(Image credit: Photo by Rebecca Orlov | Epic Playdate on Unsplash)

'Boxwoods continue to grow over years and years, and they're not too high-maintenance. I just can't say enough about a common boxwood and how many uses and varieties they can have,' James says. 

Plus, if you're looking to plan your garden design further, James offered his expert balcony garden ideas and explained how to create an elegant countryside feel through more durable planting. 

James DeSantis reveals the one plant that will transform your garden

(Image credit: Dane Tashima)

'If you're limited space-wise, it's hard to get that luxe, country feel. The way we would do that would be in the planting. We would build large planter boxes that are high up and then plant tall grass and wildflowers that will help shade some of the surroundings, so you feel enveloped in plants,' he adds. 

James may be the acclaimed king of modern garden ideas, but for even more advice, check out our guide after stocking up on boxwoods, naturally.