Excellence in Landscaping Awards

Guidlines for excellence in landscaping 2023 project submission click here

           Special Awards Nomination Form found here

           Project Submissions Registration click here


The 2022 Excellence in Landscaping Awards Gala WAS held on Saturday, November 19 at The sheraton grand at wild horse pass

2022 Winners

The award winning landscape contractors are recognized for their extraordinary landscape projects in the 46th annual Arizona Excellence in Landscaping Program.
Scroll to the bottom for a list of all the winning companies and their sponsors.


Level One Landscaping - Humingbird Residence

This award is given to a project that demonstrates the highest level of excellence and creativity. This award is the "Best of Show" project chosen from over 90 of the most beautiful landscape projects submitted across Arizona.

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Agave Environmental Contracting - Cotton Center

This award is given to a project that reflects and recognizes the precise efforts of landscape care.  Attention to every detail give this project a pristine look that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.

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2022 Lifetime achievement award

Judy Gausman - ALCA

It all started September 16, 1958, Judy was born in Batesville, Indiana to Janet and Paul Gausman and grew up with two sisters and three brothers; Pauletta, April, Scott, Andy and Tony.

Little did Judy Gausman know how important working for the local YMCA as the Comptroller and working with a Board of Directors and volunteers would prepare her for the unknown future with ALCA.

Judy has always been very active with a love for anything outdoors.  You could say she started her career in landscaping working in her yard, cutting the grass on her John Deere tractor as a single mom and homeowner on 10 acres of the family farm.

In 2001, Judy needed a change and made the brave move to relocate to Phoenix with her daughter Jama who enrolled in ASU and her son Ryan who had already graduated from Franklin College in Indiana.  Judy and her family still celebrate their anniversary of moving to Arizona every August.

With no other family, friends or employment, she enlisted a recruiting company to find a job.  At the time, there were no jobs available but Bess, the recruiter, was so taken with her that she hired Judy on-site and three months later, the position with ALCA became available.  According to the Board Members at the time, upon meeting Judy it was obvious she would be a perfect fit with her bubbly personality and desire to succeed.  The early days were not easy and she had numerous challenges but Judy met the challenges head on and flourished in her new position.  It can truly be said that Judy took on a “can of worms,” and turned it into a “pot of gold.”

Over the last twenty-one years, ALCA membership has grown from 89 to 425 companies, educational opportunities have been completely overhauled and are now a key feature in membership benefits, budgets have been exceeded with rainy day savings in the bank.  One of Judy’s keys to success has been her ability to recruit, retain and support the 100 volunteers who keep the events, classes and programs functioning.  Of course, anyone who has ever had a position on the board or as a volunteer could attest, Judy will often accomplish tasks only to give them the credit, rarely taking credit for the successes of ALCA herself.

Why has Judy had such success at the helm of the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association?  Her many talents which include but are surely not limited to:

  • Intelligent and business savvy with selfless dedication to ALCA and improving the membership experience.
  • Strong work ethic – many are unaware the “behind the scenes” tasks Judy undertakes, some unpleasant like cleaning the office or repairing the toilet.
  • Networking – strong relationships with other organizations have been instrumental in success
  • Sense of humor and positive attitude – She is so loved by all members and anyone she works with.  She is fully capable of laughing at herself.
  • Fierce protection and thrifty with ALCA’s money – She is a genius at adhering to budget and managing the assets of the organization.
  • Professionalism – She is always positive, inviting and professional even in sticky situations.
  • Creative – Years of fun Board retreats, games and of course the Awards Banquet entertainment; skits, dances, videos and overall program direction.  She introduced the concept of comedy to the show.  Now, look around at this amazing and popular event often referred to as the “ALCA Prom.” This is all Judy!!
  • Bringing all of us together– She makes each and every person she deals with feel valued and appreciated.  She has literally created a family of ALCA members.

Over the years, ALCA has provided Judy with an amazing career, dear friends and, let’s not forget, a lifelong friend in her husband Tim.  Tim Foraker was an active member of ALCA and when he met Judy, began volunteering for many ALCA activities.  The rest is history.  The two were married December 28, 2013.  Tim and Judy hold family as their ultimate priority and have a wonderful relationship with their four children and four grandchildren.  In retirement, the two will be remodeling a cabin on Huntington Lake in California and spend their summers boating, fishing, hiking and entertaining family.

As one long-time board member put it, “ALCA would not be here today without Judy.”  Judy, you will truly be missed and we all wish you all the best in this new chapter of your life.  Thank you for the last twenty-one years of hard work, dedication and success!

Congratulations on a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award.


Russ Lowd - Level one landscaping

After gaining experience in the industry, Russ Lowd started his own company, Level One Landscaping, in 2006.

Whether the job is large or small, Russ loves landscape projects that have challenging elements to them.  

Whether it is working in solid rock on a hillside property or figuring out how to tuck a 66” Native Mesquite in between two glass walls at the back of a home without breaking anything, it is meeting & exceeding the client’s expectations that are the most gratifying part that Russ enjoys. 

Russ has been a strong advocate for ALCA since he joined the association 16 years ago and rarely misses an opportunity to join his fellow members at the monthly mixers.

Russ also enjoys his time away from the job too, whether it is beach time, hunting turkeys, or fishing, it is time spent with friends and family that is important to him.

Congratulations, Russ Lowd, ALCA’s 2022 Landscape Contractor of the Year.


Juan Contreras - Desert tree farm


Everyone knows Juan and Juan knows everyone.  A memory like a steel trap, he’ll tell you your order before you know your order. 

Hailing from a small town in Veracuz, Mexico, Juan Contreras was born for big adventures.   At 19, he arrived in the United States and in August of 2008 became a citizen of the United States.

Juan started his career at Desert Tree Farm in 1996 shoveling soil into 5-gallon containers, unable to speak a word of English. Through hard work and a determination unmatched by most, he worked his way up the ranks, learned the English language and became Desert Tree Farm’s sales manager.  He’ll be the first to tell you how much he loves his job, therefore his positivity is contagious. 

A family man first and foremost, Juan and his lovely wife, Melanie, are blessed with two boys, Johnny and Prestyn.

In his free time, Juan tends to his personal plant collection consisting of adeniums, plumerias, and rare agaves. 

Congratulations to Juan Contreras, ALCA’s 2022 Outstanding Customer Service of the Year.

Click here for a list of all the winning companies and sponsors
Click here to see award winning landscape photos
Click here to see photos from the gala
Click here to see view TOP GUN 2.8
Click here to see previous special award winners





The Participant hereby irrevocably grants the Company permission to use the Participant’s voice, image and likeness in any photograph, video, internet site, audio-recording, and in any and all of its publications, including website entries (collectively “Promotional Materials”) without payment or any other consideration.