GALA: Group 1


Important dates

  • Early Bird deadline: 5:00 pm, Friday January 14, 2022
  • Final deadline: 5:00 pm, Monday, January 31, 2022
  • Judging: Mid-February 2022
  • Notification of awards: Late February 2022
  • Awards banquet: March 2022

How to enter GALA

Step 1:  Read the info on this page (or click here to download the Group 1 Call for Entries)
Step 2:  Click here to download the Group 1 Worksheet.
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. (Register early for Early Bird discount!)
Step 6:  Submit!



  • Small Space
    • Must be a complete project (not part of a larger project) and no larger than 1,000 square feet. No minimum or maximum dollar limits. Includes but is not limited to courtyards, rooftops, and storefronts. Container designs should be entered in the seasonal color categories.
  • Residential, under $50,000
  • Residential, $50,000 – $150,000
  • Residential, over $150,000
  • Commercial, under $75,000
  • Commercial, $75,000 – $200,000
  • Commercial, $201,000 – $500,000
  • Commercial, over $500,000
  • Seasonal color – residential  (Includes container designs)
  • Seasonal color – commercial (Includes container designs)


Entry submission does not guarantee an award.

  • Grand: For projects judged as greatly exceeding all criteria for the category
  • Distinction: For projects judged as superior in their overall evaluation
  • Merit: For projects that meet the standard in the category
  • Judges’ Choice: 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.
  • For residential projects, both the design and the installation must have been completed by the UAC member company entering the project.
  • Copy of the contract’s signature page listing date of installation, actual cost, and scope of the project is required.

Judging criteria

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

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.
  • Slides and PowerPoint documents will not be accepted.
  • 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 not be digitally corrected, enhanced, or resolution changed with editing software.
  • 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.
  • 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. That makes 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.