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January 20, 2018 / 5:59 am EST


Grounds for Growth
Grounds for Growth Jan 12, 2012
Making the World a More Beautiful Place

Grounds for Growth is a Chicago-based landscape design company with one thing in mind: the earth and the protection of its natural beauty and endangered resources. While many landscape designers are in their profession because they like the challenge and rewards of taking a yard, park or other outdoor space and making it beautiful, that doesn't mean they always have the earth's best interests in mind. This is what sets Grounds for Growth apart from other landscape design companies. Instead of molding the space to fit the design or intended outcome, Grounds for Growth works with sustainability, careful use of endangered resources such as water and an eye toward the future when planning and creating an outdoor space.


When Laurie Tanenbaum, designer and project manager at Grounds for Growth, approaches a landscape project in or around the Chicago area, it is with a careful consideration of the space, the available resources, the species of plants and intended materials to be used, the wishes of the clients, and lastly, the finished design. Traditional landscape design often tries to mold and change the space to fit the vision. This is not always the best approach for an outdoor space as there may be drainage and runoff concerns, water conservation concerns, introduction of non-native plant species or materials used that are unsuitable or even toxic. Many designs don't take into consideration the native birds, animals or insects that may inhabit the space. Laurie says, "There are thousands of miles of underused and poorly used land in our cities and suburbs: in our backyards, front yards, and parkways. Bringing this land back to health, at the same time we bring new beauty to it, makes a difference by protecting the health of our drinking water and of the nature we share. Do it right and the birds and butterflies will come."


The Grounds for Growth approach is different in that it first approaches an area with an eye for sustainability and the intent to "do no harm." Every aspect of the outdoor space is taken into consideration, including water sources and usage, avoidance of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and integration into the surrounding area and community. Grounds for Growth also encourages their clients to be involved in the design and creation process, with many hands-on opportunities for client involvement from integration of ideas to down-in-the-soil work. Instead of seeking to simply landscape a yard, the intent is instead to co-create a beautiful and natural living garden that provides joy to those who see it and create it, and allows animals, insects and people to coexist in harmony.


When many people picture Chicago, the first thoughts that come to mind are the typical city sights and sounds. However, with Grounds for Growth designing local outdoor spaces, many people may begin to associate Chicago with community, rooftop or school gardens, planters bursting with color, butterfly gardens or street-side parkways that are eye-pleasing and home to happy birds. Whether it's a small city backyard or just a strip of green in front of a house, it is easy to transform even the smallest space into something that is beautiful to look at and healthier for the environment.


In designing outdoor spaces that are better for the environment, Grounds for Growth is also able to provide spaces that are better for the people that occupy and enjoy them, too. The Back Saver planter is a three by ten foot planter that was designed to allow people to garden standing up, thereby doing away with sore backs. It was originally designed to help Laurie's mother, 90-year-old Bea, continue her gardening without uncomfortable bending or kneeling. Other services provided by Grounds for Growth include combining specific plants that bring butterflies to create a Butterfly Garden, creating grass-free lawns that cut the need for watering, and making a garden that is specially designed to catch rainwater and redirect it to where it is needed. Grounds for Growth also designs vegetable gardens that can provide communities with fresh vegetables or help school children learn about growing.


It is possible to have a yard or garden that is as beautiful as it is earth friendly. Grounds for Growth helps Chicago-area residents design the outdoor space that best suits the needs of the clients and the land itself.

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