top of page

Planning to Win

The Landscapes of Distinction and Young Landscaper of the Year Awards are the highlight of the event calendar for landscapers across the country. Winning either is of enormous value to landscapers and their businesses. Want to know how to win? Read on!

With entries to the Young Landscaper of the Year and Landscapes of Distinction awards closing soon, we have valuable insight from Andrew Rae, a former Young Landscaper of the Year, and Penny Cliffin, a current judge of Landscapes of Distinction.

Young landscaper

Talk it out! That’s the advice of Andrew Rae, whose business, Weka Landscaping, is also profiled in this issue.

“I’m not sure if this is what tipped the judges in my favour, but I’m pretty sure it was a factor. By talking about what I was doing and why during the competition, the judges knew I had thought about my plans and had a result in mind.

“It also made things clearer for me as I went and added to my confidence that I was doing the right thing. That would be my advice for those in the competition this year – talk it out!”

Winning the competition in 2012 confirmed Andrew’s career choice was the right one and confirmed he could be good enough to run his own business.

“I was was pretty lucky, because I had decided not to enter, but my boss convinced me just before the cut off that

I should. I won the award not long before becoming a foreman.

“I’d always had the ambition to have my own my business and the win contributed to having the confidence that I knew what I was doing.

“Winning also helped bring work in – being able to reference the win on my business card and the word of mouth that came with the win was a big bonus.

“I would definitely recommend anyone enter the competition – the possibility of winning aside, it will help you become a better landscaper, and the competition itself

is a good time.”

Landscapes of Distinction - Variety and scale

Penny Cliffin is the head judge of the Landscapes of Distinction. She is a former President of the Garden Design Society of NZ, a landscape educator, and a researcher and partner at HIKOI garden tours. She has insight into how landscaping in New Zealand is developing, along with some helpful tips and guidance for those entering the competition this year.

Cliffin has noticed a trend for companies to undertake larger scale projects, such as state highway landscapes, commercial complexes and large-scale revegetation projects, while still having premier level residential landscape design, construction and management entries.

“This is good for the sector, resulting in growth in the number and size of landscape companies,” says Cliffin. “The large-scale jobs are creating lots of extra jobs within companies, which is great for the economy and for young landscapers entering the industry.

“As New Zealand moves into a new mode of medium-density housing models, the challenge is to keep delivering high-quality living environments. Some may be shared spaces, but our planning rules need to ensure light, leisure and green space for all residents,” Cliffin explains.

Online entries

The online format trialled in 2019 was a great success overall. There were a high number of entries, excellent projects submitted, and companies were able to submit their portfolios without the cost of printing large numbers of colour documents. Submitting online does mean that entrants need to tick a few boxes to help judges.

“The one downside of the online format is that judges have to try to understand the wider context of the project and the quality of the designed spaces from 2D images. This means that the presentation is very important, so I encourage entrants to be creative. For example, show us people using the space, and include video footage if possible. We may visit the top projects in person to test our perceptions on site.”

Benefits of entering

The benefits of entering projects into the awards are many and varied. Cliffin gives some examples.

“In terms of marketing, we hope that the comments we post about the project as we evaluate it online are helpful, along with the citations prepared for the top awards.

“Being able to publish articles about your award in your local media outlets and on social media always draws a lot of interest, and then having the awards on display and as part of your company profile definitely lends an air of professionalism to bids for prospective work.

“Last but not least, the boost to team morale for your team if you win an award is definitely a plus, and the awards dinner is a great night of team appreciation, acknowledgement and celebration.

“Even if you don’t win an award, having your team part of the wider industry achievements can inspire the team to be in the running in the next round.”

What the judges are looking for

Judges are looking for the highest standards within the landscape projects submitted, whether they focus on construction, design, planting or maintenance.

“Innovative approaches, unusual solutions to overcoming problems and exceptional level of craft skills are all highly valued by the judges” says Cliffin.

The judges need to be able to assess the spatial and aesthetic qualities of the project, material selections, construction methods, attention to detailing and maintenance standard, as applicable to the different categories. After careful consideration, Premier Award winners are selected from top entries within each category.

Finally, Cliffin reiterates that the new system of online applications means that only the category finalists are visited, therefore thorough project documentation and photographs are more important than ever.”

Now you know how to win – get your entry in!

Registered Master Landscapers is committed to supporting landscape professionals and supporting young future leaders.

For more information contact CEO Janine Scott on or phone 0275 444 090

bottom of page