Your Utopia

pic8Glen Cove-based Joseph Raso Landscaping Inc. has been cultivating business on the North Shore for close to 20 years. Raso’s crew of outdoor technicians work to keep property clean, while also catering to the trendy whims of their clients.

“We will install any type of outdoor feature our clients want,” says Raso, whose company predominately serves the Gold Coast.

Another landscaping company working with the Gold Coast, Ireland Gannon Associates, Inc., in East Norwich, also boasts a wide array of landscaping specialties. Ken Muellers, design manager, said he works with both plant aspects and construction, otherwise known as hardscape, the brick and mortar side of landscaping.

“A big hardscape trend is the outdoor kitchen,” said Muellers. “Lots of people want to have staycations in their own backyards this summer.”

Outdoor kitchens include a grill, of course, and also sinks, counter tops, warming draws and refrigeration—an entire kitchen’s worth of amenities outside and ready to handle at-home entertainment events. Both Raso Landscaping and Ireland Gannon are skilled in masonry and also work hand-in-hand with trusted subcontractors to complete the job with dynamic stonework to set their client’s outdoor space apart.

Outdoor entertaining area

Both landscaping companies’ approach stretches from the traditional to the avant-garde—all aimed at enhancing the look, value and safety of clients’ properties. And staying up-to-date on the latest trends makes implementing all those enhancements possible. It’s not just landscaping trends; both companies are in touch with all the technological trends as well.

They use digital imaging to help clients visualize the landscape design before a single plant is placed into earth and before a single brick is laid into the ground. This allows clients to explore all the possibilities for plant layout, color scheme and overall design.

“The customers are always surprised by how much they can see before we do any work at all,” Raso says. “Each property is unique. Adding shrubs at one house might not make sense at another house. Digital imaging gives people the chance to see what works and what doesn’t.”

Muellers said Ireland Gannon still uses hand-drawn mock ups as well. “There’s certain charm and appeal with the hand-drawn designs,” says Muellers. “Whatever the clients want.”

In terms of landscaping trends for 2015, a few stand out among the Gold Coast clientele. One popular trend is edible gardens that incorporate a bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables and herbs, while also saving room for beds of engaging flowers. Raso said tomato plants fit nicely with roses, and besides being delicious, chili peppers stand out as ornamental favorites.


Another popular trend is a garden that attracts a flurry of wildlife activity, such as butterflies, birds and bees. Mueller says butterfly bushes not only look great, but they can also help support the monarch butterfly population that is sadly on the decline. Mueller says attracting bees can be a little trickier, even though just about any flowering plant can attract the buzzing minions. However, Mueller says, gardeners often have a love/hate relationship with bees.

“We’re trying to help clients overcome their fear of bees,” he says. “They don’t want anything to do with you; they are only interested in the flowers. What’s great about this trend is that not only are these plants nice to look at, they are also great for the environment.”

Meanwhile, Raso says drawing these lively creatures is fairly simple, with wild basil and violets attracting butterflies, yarrow and hyssop flowers attracting bees and, of course, a bird bath or shallow mini pond to attract birds.

Speaking of water, those features are more popular than ever, according to Raso. The soothing sound of water emanating from a fountain, pond or water wall is something that Raso says will never go out of style.


Privacy can be one of the reasons people move to the North Shore in the first place and Raso says landscaping design can add to this property feature. Adding a collection of container plants accomplishes this nicely, as does a natural screen with a mix of trees, shrubs and perennials.

Muellers says Ireland also works in privacy plants, otherwise known as screen planting. With homes on Long Island often so close together, screen planting has become a modern necessity. But Muellers stresses for clients to avoid monoculture—installing all the same species of plants.

“We stress plant diversity,” he says. “It’s aesthetically more interesting, but also the diversity makes you less susceptible to one insect or disease wiping out your entire investment.”

Both landscaping companies say an ever-evolving trend is planting easy-to-care-for species. Knock Out Roses come in a variety of colors and require far less upkeep than traditional roses. They bloom from June straight through to September. Any species with continuous blooms—lilacs, hydrangeas, butterfly bushes—are extremely popular with the Gold Coast.

“If it’s outdoors, we do it,” says Raso. “If you have a vision for your property, we can make
it happen.”

Both Raso Landscaping and Ireland Gannon offer free consultation, so getting a good idea of what to do and where to go with your outdoor arrangements is simple.

For Joseph Raso Landscaping Inc., call 516-671-1499,
email or visit

For Ireland Gannon Associates, Inc., call 516-922-4800,
email or visit


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Steve Mosco
Steve Mosco, the former editor-in-chief at Anton Media Group, is a columnist for Long Island Weekly's food and sports sections. He fancies himself a tastemaker, food influencer and king of all eaters.

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