Recultivating the image of landscaping

“I want not only to grow and cultivate a national landscape and hardscape company, but also to focus the next generation on what a landscape professional does and how it can help the environment as well as offer a profession,” says Valerio “Val” Morano Sagliocco, president and CEO of the Morano Group LLC.

When Valerio “Val” Morano Sagliocco was a Fordham University freshman — doing the books for the family landscaping business from his bedroom in his parents’ Harrison home — he had no thought of joining the business, let alone leading it. To be sure, he had had an intensely loving relationship with his grandfather, Angelo Morano, the business’ founder.

“He was my everything,” Sagliocco says over melt-in-your-mouth seafood cakes and grilled salmon salad at his homey Lago Ristorante & Wine Bar in West Harrison. Sagliocco remembers how his grandfather would take him and younger brother Andrea for Sunday breakfast at the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) and once a week for ice cream. 

“He was a charismatic, larger-than-life figure,” Sagliocco says, one whom client and former New York state Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer called “Zorba the Greek,” after the exuberant title character Anthony Quinn played in the 1964 film. “But he was also tough to work for.” And Sagliocco — who set out to commute to Fordham’s Bronx campus in 2002, the year after his grandfather died — had his eye on a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and management, with a focus on international business.

But to paraphrase playwright Tennessee Williams, Sagliocco was more faithful than he intended. And in 2007, a year after graduating from Fordham, he found himself across the street at the New York Botanical Garden, taking horticulture and design courses, the perfect preparation for the company he would run — and run with.

Today, Sagliocco — a thoughtful, gracious man whom we’ve interviewed on several occasions — is president and CEO of the Morano Group LLC, which includes Morano Landscape in Mamaroneck, Ridgeway Garden Center in White Plains and Weaver Gardens in Larchmont. Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the company has expanded, indeed exploded, adding hardscaping (such as patios and terraces); high-profile clients (actor Richard Gere and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger among them) and locations (with West Palm Beach, Florida, recently joining workspaces in Westchester County, Greenwich and New York City). Small wonder, then, that The Business Council of Westchester last year presented the Purchase resident with one of its Rising Stars 40 Under 40 Awards.

Morano is truly a family affair, with Sagliocco’s parents, Rosina and Domenico, serving as president and vice president of Morano Landscape respectively, brother Andrea as president and co-owner of Ridgeway Garden Center and aunt Lisa Morano as compliance manager. Even Oliveto Morano — the lightly nutty olive oil that graces Lago’s tables, another enterprise of which Sagliocco is president — stems from the grove of 2,500 2-year-old olive trees that Rosina planted on 35 unused acres on the family’s ancestral estate in the Calabria section of southern Italy in memory of her father and a dream he shared with her older son.

Branding and expanding the family business is another way to honor his grandfather, Sagliocco says:

“Family is at the root of all that I do, so keeping alive and expanding the dream of my grandfather and father was a great honor for me.”

But Sagliocco is also on a mission to make working with the earth as valued a profession as, say, health care. 

“Growing up watching my grandfather and my father, I felt that what they did wasn’t appreciated on the level that it should be. Why were kids choosing instead to be policemen, stockbrokers or astronauts? Now I want not only to grow and cultivate a national landscape and hardscape company, but also to focus the next generation on what a landscape professional does and how it can help the environment as well as offer a profession.”

To this end, his company began using electric, lithium battery-operated leaf blowers and grass mowers on March 15, reflecting a trend among many municipalities and states to phase out gas blowers and mowers, which add to noise pollution and fossil-fuel consumption.

“So ultimately we don’t want the solution to be more damaging than the problem,” Sagliocco says. “We are pumping the environment full of harmful gases, sucking us of oxygen, while we work simultaneously to plant oxygenating plants. It is a contradiction. Landscape professionals should be on the forefront of trying to reduce and eventually eliminate gas-powered tools. We are leading by example, and that is why we are making a multi-
season pledge to convert all our teams to electric mowers, blowers, trimmers and weed-eaters. We will be one of the first fully electric lawn maintenance teams in our area this spring. 

“We need to invest in our children and future generations and for that there is no better time than right now. 

“The key,” he adds, “is where we will get more electricity from?” The answer: This summer he will install solar panels at Morano Landscape — home to the company’s warehouse and the garage for its fleet, which is being outfitted with charging devices. 

Sagliocco is on the cutting edge in other ways as well as a founding member of the board of directors of SaksWorks Greenwich, a coworking space that includes Ruby & Bella’s restaurant, which in turn serves as Morano’s Fairfield County conference and meeting hub. (It’s part of a larger venture between luxe retailer Saks Fifth Avenue and WeWork, a commercial real estate company offering businesses services and flexible, shared workspaces — virtual and actual — including an upcoming SaksWorks in the former Lord & Taylor Eastchester.)

It’s a forward-thinking approach that Sagliocco has applied to every aspect of his business. He has done landscaping, patios and maintenance for Richard Gere’s Bedford Post Inn (Page 20), and site development, hardscaping (gazebos, patios and walkways) and landscaping for former Greenwich resident Tommy Hilfiger’s three Palm Beach estates. Other clients have included The St. Regis Residences, Rye, Greenwich County Day School, The Greenwich Hotel in Manhattan and the Four Seasons Hotel Miami. 

Sagliocco’s not the only entrepreneur in his immediate family. Brazilian-born wife Francisca Ferreira — an Institute for Integrated Nutrition-certified health coach, with whom he has two daughters, Sofia, 4, and Isabella, 2 — has created two businesses, Bloom Holistic Wellness and Selva Beauty, a vegan skincare line. She’ll be holding her fourth Women’s Empowerment Meet Up on July 31 at Lago.

As for the Morano Group, Sagliocco says he envisions a flexible, international company that can follow his high-flying clientele around the world. He plans to expand marketing for Oliveto Morano, which took a production hit during Covid but is now back on tables at Lago and ready for sale at the restaurant and online. And he’s creating a bespoke book chronicling the company’s seven decades.

“Zorba the Greek” would be proud.

For more, visit the For reservations at Lago, visit And for more on Bloom Holistic Wellness, visit and

More from Georgette Gouveia
Planting seeds in the garden of earthly delights Ever since Eve tempted...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *