Awards of Excellence

Clients value award-winning companies. Employees want to work for companies that do great work. The National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence recognize outstanding projects in commercial and residential lawn care and landscape contracting, management and design. Projects range in size and scope from less than $25K to more than $1M.

Have one or more residential or commercial projects that are award-worthy? Pick your best projects and enter! Be sure to review the criteria for each category before beginning your submission. 

This award program is open to NALP members only. Learn about the benefits of an NALP Membership.

What People are Saying...

We find the NALP Awards of Excellence are an excellent way to share the depth of the passion and pride we have for our work with prospects, clients and our team. To compete on a national level re-affirms that our company is relevant, up-to-speed on current trends and employ the capable people to take projects to that level.”

Mark Maslow, Owner and President, Southern Landscape Group

Why Participate in the Awards of Excellence?

  • Attract and retain clients with award-winning work and proven expertise.
  • Celebrate your team's achievements—employees are energized and motivated when their work is recognized with a national award.
  • Boost your recruiting efforts—people want to work for award-winning companies.

How are the Awards Recognized?

  • Winning projects may receive either a Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Decade award.  Gold award projects are also in the running for the coveted Judges' Award. 
  • Award winners receive a personalized plaque (additional plaques can be ordered for clients or individual employees).
  • Award winning companies are invited to the free invitation-only Awards of Excellence event at ELEVATE. Celebrate your success and take photos with your team on our awards backdrops. View the awards gallery during the cocktail reception and sit with your team for the presentation of the Gold Award and other top projects which will be recognized on stage.
  • Award recipients are featured in an online gallery and announced via press release.  Many of the award-winning projects are featured in NALP publications throughout the year and in trade press features.
  • Some award-winning projects will also be featured in education session sessions during ELEVATE.

How are Awards Judged?

  • The judging panel is made up of industry professionals from all regions of the United States.
  • The judging process is anonymous. Judges do not know which companies have submitted projects.
  • Entries do not compete against each other; they are judged on their own merit.
  • Specific criteria for each category are outlined below.

How to Get Started

  • Choose your best project(s).
  • Review the categories and choose the right one for your project.
  • Gather your best before and after photos.
  • Create a description for each photo.
  • Use your NALP login credentials to start the application process.

Fees and Deadlines

$499 per submission. No late submissions will be accepted. Deadline to enter: July 11, 2022. Entrants will be notified of award results in August. The Awards will be recognized at ELEVATE in September.

Categories and Judging Criteria

Installation/Contracting (click here to expand)

For installation or contracting projects, it is helpful to the judges to include two to three “before” and “in-process” photos and explain the installation’s special challenges. For example, if access was difficult, show the judges how difficult it was, and how you managed the plant material. If you had to use heavy equipment or inventive ways to access the building, be sure to show this. Your photos and descriptions should focus on the installation and the final result, not the design or selection of materials. In addition, the judges will look at how you used the space, so be sure to provide photos that show the overall areas of the project, rather than only close up shots.

Interior Installation projects

  • Under $25,000
  • $25,000 - $75,000
  • $75,000 -150,000
  • Above $150,000

Exterior Contracting projects (Residential and Commercial)

  • Under $25,000
  • $25,000 - $100,000
  • $100,000 - $500,000
  • $550,000 - $1,000,000
  • Above $1,000,000

Judging Criteria

  1. Overall appearance –25% (includes design for D/B entries)
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Quality of all materials – 25% (for Interior entries, includes containers and silk/artificial/preserved foliage)
  4. Appropriate scale and functionality in relation to structures/space – 25%

Design/Build (click here to expand)

In this category, you must submit a photo depicting the landscape design plan (delete your company name from the plan). The entering firm must have created the landscape design as well as the installation or construction of the project. Your description should focus on the client’s request, and how your landscape design met his or her specific needs. Do not forget this is a design/build project — include two to three photos about the actual installation of the project and any special challenges.

Interior Design/Build projects 

  • Under $25,000
  • $25,000 - $75,000
  • $75,000 -150,000
  • Above $150,000

Exterior Design/Build projects (Residential and Commercial)

  • Under $25,000
  • $25,000 - $100,000
  • $100,000 - $500,000
  • $550,000 - $1,000,000
  • Above $1,000,000

Judging Criteria

  1. Overall appearance –25% (includes design for D/B entries)
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Quality of all materials – 25% (for Interior entries, includes containers and silk/artificial/preserved foliage)
  4. Appropriate scale and functionality in relation to structures/space – 25%

Landscape Management (click here to expand)

For the projects in these categories, the entering firm must currently be managing the project and must have managed it for at least 12 months prior to the entry date. Photos should be taken at least 12 months after the firm assumed the project and must show sufficient detail to allow the judges to adequately determine the quality of the work performed. Be sure to include the date that the project was assumed on the entry form. You should show a range of photos that clearly portray the turf and/or plant material. Talk specifically about the project's scope and the maintenance procedures involved at the site - particularly if this involves some out-of-the-ordinary constraints. Give the judges information about disease and pest control programs, maintenance schedules, and any unusual or significant challenges associated with the project, and what steps you took to correct any problems.


Residential Landscape Management Projects (no subcategories)
Commercial Landscape Management Projects (select one subcategory)
  • Housing
  • Office and Industrial Sites/Hotels & Resorts
  • Retail
  • Institutional
  • Multi-Use Properties

Judging Criteria

  1. Overall appearance – 25%
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Appearance of turf – 10%
  4. Appearance of trees – 10%
  5. Appearance of annual color – 10%
  6. Appearance of shrubs – 10%
  7. Appearance of ground cover – 10%

Lawn Care (click here to expand)

For the projects in this category, the entering firm must currently be managing the project and must have managed it for at least 12 months prior to the entry date. Photos should be taken at least 12 months after the firm assumed the project and must show sufficient detail to allow the judges to adequately determine the quality of the work performed. You should show a range of 6-8 photos that clearly portray the turf and/or plant material. Talk specifically about the project's scope and the maintenance procedures involved at the site - particularly if this involves some out-of-the-ordinary constraints. Give the judges information about disease and pest control programs, maintenance schedules, and any unusual or significant challenges associated with the project, and what steps you took to correct any problems.


Residential Lawn Care (no subcategories)
Commercial Lawn Care (select one subcategory)
  • Housing
  • Office and Industrial Sites/Hotels & Resorts
  • Retail
  • Institutional
  • Multi-Use Properties

Judging Criteria

  1. Overall appearance – 50%
    1. Lush
    2. Thick
    3. Mower trucks in turf
    4. Setting/composition
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
    1. Obstacles to overcome
    2. Drainage conditions
    3. Sun/shade
  3. Appearance of turf – 25%
    1. Weed free
    2. Health

Landscape Interior Maintenance (click here to expand)

For the projects in this category, the entering firm must currently be managing the project and must have managed it for at least 12 months prior to the entry date. Photos should be taken at least 12 months after the firm assumed the project and must show sufficient detail to allow the judges to adequately determine the quality of the work performed. Be sure to include the date that the project was assumed on the entry form. You should show a range of photos that clearly portray the turf and/or plant material. Talk specifically about the project's scope and the maintenance procedures involved at the site - particularly if this involves some out-of-the-ordinary constraints. Give the judges information about disease and pest control programs, maintenance schedules, and any unusual or significant challenges associated with the project, and what steps you took to correct any problems.


What percentage, if any, of the project is silk, artificial, preserved foliage?

Judging Criteria

  1. Overall appearance – 25%
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Appearance of containers – 10%
  4. Appearance of trees – 10%
  5. Appearance of annual color – 10%
  6. Appearance of preserved/silk foliage– 10%
  7. Appearance of live plant material– 10%

Decade Awards (click here to expand)

Photos must show the current quality of the work performed. "Before" photos are not required but are sometimes helpful to judges. The entry form must include the date that the project was assumed and the year the project received the Grand/Gold Award. NALP members who have received a Grand/Gold Award and have managed their project continuously for 10 years or more after receiving the Grand/Gold Award may submit their project in this category.

Interior Maintenance Decade Award
Exterior Lawn Care Decade Award
Exterior Landscape Management Decade Award


Judging Criteria

Exterior Lawn Care Decade
  1. Overall appearance – 50% (lush, thick, mower tracks in turf, setting/composition)
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25% (obstacles to overcome, drainage conditions, sun/shade)
  3. Appearance of turf – 25% (weed free, healthy)

Interior Maintenance Decade
  1. Overall appearance - 25%
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Appearance of containers – 10%
  4. Appearance of trees – 10%
  5. Appearance of annual color – 10%
  6. Appearance of preserved/silk foliage – 10%
  7. Appearance of live plant material – 10%
Exterior Landscape Management Decade
  1. Overall appearance - 25%
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Appearance of turf – 10%
  4. Appearance of trees – 10%
  5. Appearance of annual color – 10%
  6. Appearance of shrubs – 10%
  7. Appearance of ground cover – 10%

Interior Containerized Plantings (click here to expand)

For projects in this category, be sure the project you are entering is unique in some way or demonstrates creativity in selection of plant material and containers. The entering firm must have provided and installed all plants and containers and must have played a significant role in the design process. Your project description should focus on the client’s requests and how you satisfied them. Your photos should show the entire space where containerized plantings were used so that judges can realize their impact.

Interior projects

  • Under $25,000
  • $25,000 - $75,000
  • $75,000 -150,000
  • Above $150,000

Erosion Control/Ecological Restoration (click here to expand)

Entries in this category are unique. You should show all phases of the project in your photos — before, during, after — and describe the process you went through. Be sure to explain the project’s intent and how you fulfilled the client’s requests. Also include in your project description the impact this project has had on the environment, and how you coordinated the work with any outside agencies. Projects in this category should contain similar values and functions of native landscapes.

Judging Criteria

  1. Overall impact/benefit to the environment – 25%
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Accomplishment of project intent – 25%
  4. Coordination of work with outside agencies – 25%

Special Events (click here to expand)

For this category, focus on the project’s unique aspects and the special challenges you overcame. These projects are defined as short term, such as seasonal displays, banquets, weddings, or exhibits, and must not have been completed within your own facilities (e.g., a showcase room or flower show held at your nursery for prospective clients). Include in your project description the project’s intent and how you satisfied the client’s requests.

Interior and Exterior Special Events

Judging Criteria

  1. Overall appearance – 50%
  2. Degree of difficulty – 25%
  3. Quality of all materials – 25%

Eligibility

  • Projects must not be owned by the entering firm (including showcase projects completed at your facilities).
  • Projects that have previously received a Gold (previously Grand) in a category may not be re-entered in the same category.
  • A project may be entered in multiple categories per year (one entry per category).
  • Projects entered in the Special Events category may be entered in one other category in the same year.
  • NALP keeps records of previous years' awards – if you are interested in entering for a Decade award and are uncertain of eligibility, we can help with that.

Photo Requirements & Suggestions

  • Submit a minimum of 10 photos and a maximum of 17 (note that Design/Build entries must include a minimum of 12 photos and a maximum of 17, and the design layout should be the last photo in your series. Lawn Care entries may submit 6 – 8 photos).
  • Photos must be current (no more than three years old except for BEFORE photos).
  • No company information, name or branding is allowed to appear in the photos.
  • Provide current, high-quality, well-lit photos. Make sure the landscaped areas are clean and well-staged.
  • Suggestion: start and end your photo series with some “after photos,” and only submit 2-3 “before” or “in process” photos (judges really want to see the finished product).
  • Horizontal photos are preferred.
  • Be descriptive, but concise with photo descriptions. Don’t use your company name in any write-ups and be sure to proofread.
  • Photo File format – JPEGs are preferred with at least 2 megapixels each (for best viewing). No PowerPoints or other presentations.
  • Rename your image files using an abbreviated version of the project name and number them 01, 02, 03, etc., to reflect the order in which you wish the judges to view them (use leading zeros on single digits so the files stay in order).
  • Complete the photo release form in the application. We publish photographs of projects in our publications and marketing and promotional materials, on the website, and we share them with the media. Please include any photo restrictions or photo credit information in the application form. NALP cannot guarantee photo credit will be given.

What People are Saying...

The Awards of Excellence advances my business through national recognition and allows us to further our marketing strategy with client satisfaction and gratification.”

Joel C. Hafner, CLP, CLT, President, Fine Earth Landscape, Inc.

2021 Award Recipients

2021 Awards of Excellence Winners List

View Now!

Order Custom Designed Award Plaques

Order Now!