Over the past few months while staying at home, we’ve all likely taken up gardening and landscaping in some format as a way to stretch our bodies and get some fresh air after working or learning inside all day. Most of us probably still have nothing but black thumbs despite our greatest efforts, but hey, we can’t all be pros like the dynamic team behind the Brooklyn-based landscaping and exterior design company Manscapers — James DeSantis, Garrett Magee, and Mel Brasier. The trio also happens to be the stars of Bravo’s hit show, Backyard Envy, which if you’re like us, you’ve probably been binging as of late.
Since fall is officially here and it’d be impossible for them to work their magic on all of our outdoor spaces IRL, we asked the expert landscaping team all their secrets including how to protect your outdoor plants from cooler temps, what you should and shouldn’t be planting right now, and how to create an easy fall centerpiece that won’t cost you a penny — seriously.
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Mistake 1: Letting Your Yard Die
Think you should just neglect your yard when it’s cold? Think again.
“You hear about spring cleaning,” says Brasier. “I like to do fall cleaning so that when we go into the winter and you come out on the other side in the spring, you have a really clean, non-cluttered palette to work with.”
You can do this by throwing out all those miscellaneous items that end up scattered outside and raking up leaves regularly.
And despite popular belief, it’s actually the perfect time to plant tree shrubs, trees, and evergreen plants that will stay green through winter, particularly on the East Coast, says Magee. “Now’s also the time for hardscaping decks and patios so they’ll be ready for planting when spring comes around.” He also said that nurseries tend to have tons of sales during this time.
So what should you do with your potted plants? “Cluster them together and move them closer to your home,” says Brasier. “Your house radiates a certain amount of heat and your plants clustered together can hold that heat a little bit more than if they’re on their own out in the yard.” You should also add some layers of burlap around the pots and a thick layer of mulch to keep the soil warm.
Mistake 2: Overcrowding Indoor Centerpieces
Creating centerpieces for the holiday table are beautiful, but can be costly and overwhelming to make on your own. The secret? Use what you’ve got. The trick to creating the perfect indoor centerpiece is picking out foliage and flowers from your own landscaping or garden — Brasier says she recently did this at a photoshoot — and you’ll get a completely free centerpiece that looks like a pro made it.
When it comes to assembling your centerpiece, keep it simple, says DeSantis.
“Incorporating one big statement flower is always beautiful, like a Protea, which is a hybrid of a plant and a flower, and they only cost a few dollars per stem.”
Then you can add in other foliage and play with the height. And try and stick to no more than three elements in any centerpiece, or else it’ll get too crowded.
Mistake 3: Overcomplicating Indoor Greenery
If you’re wanting to add some greenery indoors since that’s where you’ll be retreating to the next few months, there are some things to keep in mind. “You don’t have to get a bunch of little plants,” says Magee. “Sometimes it’s best to just have one large, statement plant in the corner.”
You can also use vertical space on walls to display plants, especially if space is tight. And most importantly: Don’t forget to have pots with drainage too — you’d be surprised at how many pots don’t have any.
And last, but not least, we asked Manscapers their go-to places for finding landscaping and gardening essentials. Their faves? Lowe’s, Terrain, and Mecox. Now that you’ve got the knowledge, add these landscaping and gardening essentials we love to your cart to put these Manscapers-approved tricks into action this fall:
For more ways to show off your green thumb, check out our gallery of Costco house plants: