The Empire State Excellence in Landscaping Awards

NYSNLA is very pleased to announce the return of its annual statewide awards in recognition of outstanding landscaping projects. Previously known as the New York State Environmental Beautification Awards, this revitalized program is now known as: 

The Empire State Excellence in Landscaping Awards Program 

We are excited to announce that this statewide recognition for the best work of our industry and profession has been resurrected—culminating with the presentation of the awards at the 2024 Annual Conference & Expo at the Albany Capital Center in October 2024! 

Click here to view/download the Awards Program Entry Rules.


Deadline to Submit: July 15, 2024


Projects may be entered under any of the following categories: 

Best Commercial Landscape
Under $50,000
$50,000 – $100,000
Over $100,000 

Best Residential Landscape
Under $25,000
$25,000 – $75,000
Over $75,000 

Best Commercial Hardscape
Under $50,000
$50,000 - $100,000
Over $100,000 

Best Residential Hardscape
Under $25,000
$25,000 – $75,000
Over $75,000 

Best Landscape Lighting 

Best Commercial Maintenance 

Best Residential Maintenance 

Best Innovative and Specialty Project
(i.e. landscaping in small spaces, water features, native plantings, green walls and roofs, etc.)
Under $25,000
$25,000 - $75,000
Over $75,000 

New Category as we relaunch these statewide awards!

Best Nursery/Garden Center Display
We are instituting this new category to recognize Plant Nurseries and Garden Centers who create life-like scale models of outdoor living areas at their centers to inspire outdoor living areas with current products, techniques, standards and to give an idea of a positive place to live, gather and connect with nature. 

Eligibility for this New Category: Entries are inclusive of companies and organizations of any size (members in good standing) located in NYS with outdoor living areas / display models of any size, scale and budget. Outdoor living models must solve landscape issues, create and enhance the beauty and functionality of the space and be a connection to nature. The purpose of these are to educate and inspire homeowners, contractors, designers, and architects to help put all the pieces together, create beautiful outdoor living areas and reconnect with nature.  


All Entries Submitted Must Include:

  1. The official online entry form must be completed properly and accompanied by the entry fee of $100.00 for each entry. 
  2. Time Period – Projects entries must have been started and completed within the last three years (Since 2021)
  3. A set of no less than seven (7) and no more than fourteen (14) images, (include at least 2 before shots) shall be submitted with each entry.  Any photo showing any kind of company ID will be removed before judging.  All photos MUST be numbered/titled in the order you wish your presentation to be judged. Please upload photos in numerical order. A place will be provided on the form to describe what is being shown in the photo.  
  4. Any copyrighted photos must be accompanied by a signed release to reprint for awards and publication purposes. Contact information for permission must be included to secure additional reprint needs.  
  5. A simple plan for each entry with numbers keyed to the photos must be submitted for all categories except Landscape Maintenance. Only submit plans that are relevant to the project being judged.  Colored renderings and other detailed work are not necessary.  All plans MUST indicate scale and north orientation.  Corporate logo, corporate name and any reference to client must be removed from plans and description before submittal.  Photos for commercial entries only may contain client ID.
  6. On form, please enter your Description of Project and Special or Unusual Problems Encountered.  If applicable, include a description of Specify All Work Performed by Others. With each image, please make sure to give a brief description of what is shown in the image, aligning with the number you assigned to each submitted image/photo.
  7. If submitting the SAME entry in more than one category, a separate complete entry form must be submitted, for each additional category, including separate photos, plans, and description.
  8. You must completely fill out the Official Online Entry Form crediting firms or individuals involved in your submitted project. 
  9. Following submission, you will be receiving a proof of your awards entry presentation that will be provided to the judges. You will have several days to review and approve.  

Note:  If all of the requirements in Steps 1 through 9 are not met, the entry will not be judged and the entry fee will not be refunded.

Entries must be received at the NYSNLA office no later than Monday, July 15, 2024 at 5:00 p.m. Entries become the property of NYSNLA and may be used for publication or any other purpose the Association deems appropriate.  Payment is to be included with entry form. Entrants may pay with credit card or print out invoice and submit with check payment. No entry is considered final until payment is received by NYSNLA. All mailed payments will be confirmed by NYSNLA upon receipt. All materials submitted must be cleared by the entrant for release upon submission.  NYSNLA will not assume the responsibility for copyrights or photographic fees.

The same entry can and should be submitted in other state and national competitions. There is no reason that your work in preparing the entry should not do double and even triple duty. The entry fee is minimal considering the time necessary to properly prepare and submit an entry. 


State Grand Prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges. A Judges’ Choice Award will be given to the top overall winner of all entries. 

State Grand Prize winners and Judges’ Choice Award will receive framed awards/plaques suitable for display. 


A jury of distinguished professionals in the field of landscape construction, education, landscape architecture and horticulture will evaluate entries.

The judges will determine the quality of materials (both plant and construction), design, completeness of installation, workmanship, and horticultural correctness in the landscape installation using only the slides, plan and descriptions submitted with each entry. 


Recipients will be honored and their awards presented at Empire State Excellence in Landscaping Awards Ceremony at the 2024 Annual Conference & Expo, being held October 21, 2024 at the Albany Capital Center.  Recipients will also be denoted during the Annual Court of Honor at the Great New York State Fair. Award winners will be featured on the NYSNLA Website and congratulated through NYSNLA Social Media platforms.  

Important Note:  The judges reserve the option to call entrants to verify the dollar amount spent and the three-year limit on any project(s) entered.  The judges also reserve the option to see paperwork verifying dollar amounts and dates.

Start thinking about your recent best work and consider applying for the Empire State Excellence in Landscaping Awards!