Georgia Landscape Awards

GALA: Group 1

Design/Build/Installation | Seasonal Color

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Important dates for 2025 GALA

  • Entry deadline: 5:00 pm, Wednesday, January 15, 2025
  • Late entry deadline (late fee will apply): 5:00 pm, Wednesday, January 22, 2025
  • Judging: Early February 2025
  • Notification of awards: Mid-February 2025
  • Awards ceremony: Tuesday, March 25, 2025

How to enter GALA

Step 1:  Read through the info on this page.
Step 2:  Click here to download the Group 1 Worksheet. This worksheet mirrors the online application. Start filling in this worksheet as you gather information and photographs. It's never too soon to start!
Step 3:  Gather your photographs.
Step 4:  Use the information from your completed worksheet to complete the Group 1 online entry form and upload the required documents.
Step 5:  On the entry form, provide payment information for entry fee: $150 per entry if submitted by 5:00 pm January 5, 2024; $200 per entry if submitted after January 5 but before 5:00 pm January 12, 2024.
Step 6:  Submit!


Categories for Group 1

Entries may be for residential or commercial projects; interior or exterior.

  • Design/Build/Installation
  • Seasonal color (Includes container designs)


Entry submission does not guarantee an award.

  • Gold: For projects judged as greatly exceeding all criteria for the category
  • Silver: For projects judged as superior in their overall evaluation
  • Bronze: For projects that meet the standard in the category
  • Judges’ Choice: For projects that "WOW" the judges, a special designation that may be given, at the sole discretion of the judges
  • Newcomer of the Year: For a member who joined UAC in 2020 or later, a special designation that may be given, at the sole discretion of the judges
  • Earth Aware honor: For projects that create a positive impact on the environment through best practices and innovation, a special designation that may be given, at the sole discretion of the judges

Rules of entry

  • Only UAC members in good standing may submit entries (dues must be current).
  • There is no limit to the number of entries per company, but:
    • each project can be entered in one category only; and
    • multiple entries for one property address will not be accepted.
  • Previous UAC award entries can be resubmitted if new photos are provided, except:
    • Projects that previously received a Grand Award cannot be re-entered in the same category.
    • Seasonal color entries: properties that previously received a Grand Award may be resubmitted, but the new entry must have a completely new design.
  • The project cannot be owned by the entering company.
  • Projects (except seasonal color entries) must be at least two years old and no more than seven years old.

Judging criteria

Awards are determined based on a 100-point scoring system, using the following metric:

  1. Overall appearance, including design (unity/scale/functionality/plant choices) - 25%
  2. Degree of difficulty (challenges and how they were overcome) - 25%
  3. Quality of plant material (healthy, planted properly, right plant/right place) - 25%
  4. Goals/objectives clearly defined and successfully achieved - 25%

Additional criteria that will be considered for the Earth Aware honor:

If the project does not receive an Earth Aware honor, it will not be eliminated - it will be reviewed as a traditional entry.

  • Practical turf areas created where they provide defined functions
  • Soil evaluated and improved if necessary
  • Plants grouped according to their water needs (hydrozoning)
  • Innovative technologies, products and practices used to maximize efficient water use
  • Mulch used to reduce surface evaporation of water and weeds
  • Native trees and/or plants installed
  • Organic fertilizers and/or pest control used
  • Water management and/or rainwater capture systems employed
  • Pervious surfaces installed
  • Green roof constructed

Judging procedures

  1. Entries do not compete against each other; they are evaluated using the judging criteria.
  2. Judges may designate multiple entries to receive awards within any category.
  3. All entries are judged without knowledge of who entered the project.
  4. A panel of professionals representing various aspects of the industry evaluate the entries.
  5. All judges’ decisions are final.

Photography criteria

  • Select a minimum of six and a maximum of 12 photos, including “before” and “after” photos taken from the same vantage point  (see “Photography” under “Success tips” below).
  • Photos may be horizontal or vertical.
  • All photos must be digital, in .jpg or .png format.
  • Image size for each photo must be at least 1920 pixels x 1080 pixels.
  • The company name must not be visible in any of the photos.
  • All photos submitted must be cleared for release upon submission. UAC accepts no responsibility for copyrights or photographic fees. All images become the property of Georgia UAC and may be used in news releases, on the association website, and for other promotional purposes.
  • Photos may be digitally corrected with editing software but the original photograph (before edits) must be provided.
  • Rename each photo with the project name and then numbered from 01 to 12.
    • Example: jonesresidence01, jonesresidence02, etc.

Success tips

Choosing a project to enter

  • Entries are not judged against each other. Review the judging criteria for Group 1 and make sure you can “sell” the project in each area that will be judged.
  • Let it grow. Allow plants to mature before entering. Group 1 projects (except seasonal color entries) must be at least two years old and no more than seven years old.

Make your case

  • Pay close attention to the judging criteria. Use photos and their captions along with the project’s goals and challenges to tell a story and explain why the project deserves an award.


  • Photography is the most important part of your entry. You have a maximum of 12 opportunities to convince the judges that your entry deserves an award.
  • Think about including a drone photo to show the entire project in one aerial shot.
  • Consider the view from multiple angles to best capture the project in its entirety.
  • Time of day is important. The light is always most flattering at dawn and dusk. If you must shoot in the middle of the day, choose an overcast day or use a polarizing filter.
  • Spend time prepping the area. This is like advertising dollars. Put down fresh pine straw. Replace flowers if needed. Cut the grass. Remove the dead leaves.
  • “Before” and “after” shots have the most impact. Take shots from the same angle with some sort of landmark in view to help with a visual reference, making the transformation easily apparent to the judges.
  • Tell the story with your photos. Take a variety of shots, some from a distance, some medium and some close-ups for detail.
  • Illustrate your main points. What are the judging criteria for the category? Make sure your photos give visual evidence of how you excelled in each area.
  • Set the stage. Give living spaces more life with staging. A pitcher of water, some glasses and a book on a poolside table or the family dog sleeping on the lawn.
  • Clean with a fine-tooth comb. That one stray leaf or scrap of paper jumps off the screen when the image is enlarged and viewed by the judges.
  • Use a tripod. Most landscapes should be shot with a large depth of field which could mean a slow shutter speed, requiring the stability of a tripod.
  • Keep it simple. A few strong elements are more interesting than a lot of small facets. If there is too much going on, the eye doesn’t know where to focus and the impact is lost.
  • Consider hiring a photographer. It would be a shame to misrepresent your project with photos that don’t do it justice. Make sure the photographer understands the story you want to tell – share the judging criteria with the photographer so they can capture the right shots. Contact us for a list of photographers with experience shooting landscapes.