Judging Criteria

Volunteer judges visit every residential property in the city. They use the following judging criteria:

Landscape maintenance

The judges check to see:

  • if the exterior looks inviting, welcoming and attractive.
  • if the property creates a good first impression.
  • if the property catches your attention immediately.

Curb appeal can be accomplished a number of ways, such as:

  • exterior decorations
  • colour scheme
  • attention to landscaping

Softscape refers to the live elements including ornamental grasses, plants and shrubs. Judges will check to see if:

  • groundcover such as moss or ivy is well maintained
  • grass is mowed and edged, weed and diease free and without brown patches (except in rural areas or when a water ban is in effect)

Hardscape refers to the built environment including:

  • stones
  • rocks
  • pavers
  • artificial turf
  • structures
  • water elements
  • mulches

Judges will check to see if the build environment is weed free, clean and well kept.

Judges will check to see if annuals and perennials:

  • are well maintained
  • have healthy colour and foliage
  • have been dead headed
  • are part of a colour scheme
  • are the proper size in proportion to containers and planters

Judges will check to see if trees, evergreens and shrubs are:

  • pruned
  • shaped
  • maintained (deadwood, weak, diseased or damaged branches and stems have been removed)

The judges will check to see if:

  • property is maintained
  • walkways, driveways, fences and forces are in good condition and contribute to the appearance of the property
  • landscaping is maintained and free of litter and weeds
  • elements and structures compliment the landscape and are in working order.

The judges check for:

  • Unity and harmony
    •   unity is achieved by repeating objects or elements that are alike; there is repetition of shrubs or a colour scheme
  • Balance
    • can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical
  • Scale and proportion
    • scale refers to the size of an object in relation to the house and property
    • proportion refers to the size of parts of the design in relation to each other and to the design as a whole
  • Rhythm and sequence
    • smooth blending of different elements
    • garden is one unified scene
    • property has year-round appeal
  • Focal area
    • plants or structural elements that accent a given area
    • can be achieved using an entryway, front door or a certain location in the garden such as a pond, fountain, arbour, birdbath, pots, rockery or stairway

These are tools used to achieve principles of design:

  • Line:
    • this is eye movement or flow
    • can be achieved by bed arrangement or vertical changes in heights of plants, trees or shrubs
    • can be straight or curved and free flowing
  • Form:
    • individual plant growth or planting arrangement in a landscape such as upright, oval, columnar, spreading or weeping
  • Texture:
    • describes the surface quality of an object that can be seen or felt
    • can include buildings, walks, walls, ground covers and plants
    • can be fine, course, bold or medium
    • adds interest to the garden throughout the seasons
  • Colour:
    • should be complex, personal and have a strong effect on the landscape
    • may include some flowers; however much of the colour should come from foliage
    • using green for continuity along with some colour variety in foliage adds interest
    • should direct attention to the landscape and compliment the house
    • consideration will be given to year round interest, not just to seasonal colour