2017 5 Under 40: Tony Frisella Jr.

Landscape Designer
Frisella Nursery

Edited by Melissa Mauzy
Portrait Photography by Colin Miller/Strauss Peyton


Tony Frisella Jr. has worked for his family’s business since he could hold a shovel. Learning all there is to know about landscape design from his grandfather Frank Frisella, who founded the nursery in 1953, and his father Tony, who co-owns the business, Tony Jr. spent a decade in an unofficial field labor apprenticeship. Noticing a lack of quality landscape lighting options, he developed Frisella Outdoor Lighting in 2006 to enhance homeowners’ outdoor spaces while highlighting features of the nursery’s landscape designs. A few years later, Tony Jr. began designing for landscape under the direction and education of his father. Over the past eight years, Tony Jr. has developed a very distinct, natural, but balanced style and is known for his enthusiastic approach to design consultations. He excites his clients with his ability to maintain environmental integrity while creatively exceeding their vision. Tony brings a perspective to landscape design that cannot be taught in a classroom. 

SLHL: What has been the best compliment you've received in your career?
Tony: People often comment on my passion and energy when discussing projects. I have a tendency to get loud and excited when discussing plans, I am passionate about landscaping and it makes my customers excited as well.  

SLHL: Tell us a story from your childhood where your creative design genius kicked in.
Tony: When I was 8 or 9 years old, my grandmother had a 900-square-foot blank spot in her yard where the grass was sparse under two pin oaks. I decided I wanted to landscape it, and my dad gave me a list of plants that would work. I selected the plants within those parameters and installed it myself. I stripped what was left of the sod and planted something along the lines of 12 boxwood, six azaleas, several perennials, two climbing hydrangea to climb the chain-link fence. I remember the temperature was in the 90s and my grandmother was yelling at me to come inside because it was hot. 

SLHL: What does it take to achieve a high level of success before 40?
Tony: Follow your PASSION, invest in the success of your team and have a daring vision for the future. Follow passion with enthusiasm, drive and intensity. Understand that adversity gives you strength and that in every setback there is an opportunity for growth.

SLHL: What is your favorite spot in St. Louis and why is it your favorite?
Tony: The Hill! Sono Italiano!!!