Lilacs at The Children's Room

Call for Community Client Project & Designer Applications Due November 30th @ 8pm

Client Criteria

COGdesign clients include schools, neighborhood parks, Friends groups, churches, municipal and housing agencies, historic sites, community gardens, and other community groups. See our Projects page for past projects

Benefits of working with COGdesign include:

  • Quality design by highly motivated designers
  • Low costs for public/community projects with limited budgets
  • A design process that fosters design awareness and encourages community participation
  • Individualized problem solving and design development
  • Networking with COGdesign’s design professionals and green industry colleagues

Site Consultation

When you contact COGdesign about your project, the Executive Director will call you to review your project. If it meets COGdesign’s project criteria, the Executive Director will schedule an initial site consultation. COGdesign’s Project Chair, the Executive Director, and a COGdesign board member will visit the site with you to discuss your ideas, potential challenges, and a reasonable timeline.

Project Liaison

If your site is selected as a COGdesign project, COGdesign will provide a “Project Liaison” to manage your relationship with volunteer designers. Project Liaisons are essentially project managers, but they also manage the volunteer designers’ relationship with community clients—both ensuring that the community is fully engaged in the design process and that the designers get the information and support they need to complete the design. Project Liaisons ask questions about budgets, check to make sure that community meetings are scheduled, and do many, many other tasks to make sure the experience is successful for clients and designers alike.

Designer Selection

COGdesign advertises new projects in social media, on the COGdesign website, and in special mailings to COGdesign supporters, designers, design firms, and colleges and universities offering landscape design degrees. The COGdesign board and Executive Director review applications to select designers who have the experience and enthusiasm for a client’s project.

Designer Experience

COGdesign assigns a team of 2-3 designers to a project. We typically pair an experienced designer with one or more recent graduates. Clients get to access senior designers’ deep knowledge of landscape work—including construction issues and cost estimates—and the new designers’ fresh ideas and energy. The young designers gain experience working with community clients, and the experienced designers meet potential professional partners. Everyone wins.

Designer Meetings

Once designers are matched together and are paired with a project, they’ll visit the project site to meet your team and walk the site together. At this point, the Director will review the process with both clients and designers. COGdesign volunteer designers commonly visit a site many times: first, to determine their own interest in working on the project, then for an initial meeting with clients and tour of the site, again for photographing and measurements, and further visits if community meetings are held on-site or for any number of other reasons such as to view the usage of the space, to observe drainage during rain events and shade cast by trees on sunny days.

Professional Reviews

In addition to the community meetings, COGdesign volunteers present their work at one of COGdesign’s periodic Design Reviews – usually held in the Winter and Spring. Professional designers who are not involved with the project critique the plans before the final version is presented to the community.

Final Design

At the end of the process, clients receive a landscape design plan including planting lists, information about maintenance of the space and a cost estimate. These plans show how the site will be used, and give supporters a concrete image of what can be done with the land. Clients use COGdesign plans for the next phases of the project: fundraising, grant applications, construction documents (CDs) and to recruit volunteers. They are the spark which bring landscape projects to life.

To become a COGdesign client, contact us directly by phone or email.

You will be asked to complete a brief client application and submit photos and any other material about the site such as maps and survey plans.

If your project satisfies COGdesign’s requirements for being accepted (see the Client FAQ), you will work with COG’s Executive Director to set up a first site meeting with your community group and the design team. The designers draw up a letter of agreement (LoA) outlining their responsibilities and yours which you will all sign. In addition, there’s a standard Waiver and Release form, a photo release and a Signing Fee due upon signing the LoA. The contract commitment fee ranges from $150 to $750 and is based on the organization’s annual operating budget. This fee only begins to cover administrative costs. COGdesign clients also are responsible for reimbursing their designers out-of-pocket expenses (up to $100 only) such as printing, film, and photocopying. The designers’ time and expertise are free of charge.

Contact COGdesign about your landscape project by emailing

COGdesign provides many services to community groups in eastern Massachusetts that do not have the funds to pay for professional landscape design. To apply to become a Community Client, download the Client Application. Please email your completed application to or mail it to COGdesign, PO Box 380124, Cambridge, MA 02338.  

Please note that COGdesign does not provide services to individual residential clients. For private residential design services, please visit the New England Landscape Design and History Association or the Ecological Landscape Alliance websites.