SAN RAFAEL – After spending most of his landscaping career maintaining private estates, Scott Reilly took an inspired turn by switching his focus to landscape design. “I started in landscaping as a teenager, when my brother got me a job working on a private estate on Long Island,” he remembers. “After graduating high school, I moved to Washington, D.C. and got a job with a local landscaping company. From there, I worked as a head groundskeeper for a number of private estates along the East Coast. In 1996, I moved to California, where I spent 11 years working on a private estate in Ross. Finally, in 2006, I quit doing estate work and started my own business doing landscape design for residences and businesses.”
Today, as owner of Reilly Designs, Scott reflects on the motivation behind his professional transition. “Basically, I wanted an opportunity to be more creative with my work,” he explains. “When you work on an estate, you have a pretty routine schedule that stays the same year to year. In contrast, working on private residences tends to offer a lot more room for creative expression, which, as a creative person, I find very satisfying.”
Originally from Long Island, New York, Scott now resides in Petaluma, where he appreciates the horticultural versatility that exists in the North Bay. “Because of the Bay Area’s varied microclimates and the wide plant availability, there’s a lot more variety with what you can plant than there is on the East Coast. You can do a tropical garden, a Mediterranean garden, an English garden, a Japanese garden—the possibilities are endless.”
Outside of work, Scott engages in a variety of active and creative hobbies. “I have an art studio where I do ceramic sculptures, many of which I incorporate into my landscape designs,” he says. “I also enjoy cycling and writing poetry—I actually have a poetry book that’s in the process of being published.” In addition to his personal pursuits, Scott enjoys spending time with his four children.
In regard to his professional career, Scott espouses the importance of staying hungry. “Running a business is never easy, and I think when it becomes easy, maybe it’s time to retire,” he says. “Any good business should be continually evolving, and as an owner, you need to keep yourself challenged. It’s the challenges that keep you growing and invested in what you’re doing, which manifests itself in the quality of your work.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Scott says he’d expand his artistic horizons. “I certainly wouldn’t play golf,” he laughs. “Everyone has their passions, and mine are definitely more artistic in nature. I’d spend more time in my studio doing ceramics, and I might also try my hand at a few new things, like glass blowing.”