The fruit of urban nature: Vital neighborhood spaces

William C. Sullivan, Frances E. Kuo, Stephen F. DePooter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What makes a neighborhood space vital? This article explores the possibility that the presence of trees and grass may be one of the key components of vital neighborhood spaces. We report on 758 observations of individuals in 59 outdoor common spaces in a residential development. Twenty-seven of the neighborhood common spaces were relatively green, whereas 32 were relatively barren. Results indicate that the presence of trees and grass is related to the use of outdoor spaces, the amount of social activity that takes place within them, and the proportion of social to nonsocial activities they support. The findings improve and broaden our understanding of the physical characteristics that influence social contact among neighbors and provide evidence that nature plays an important role in creating vital neighborhood spaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)678-700
Number of pages23
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Community
  • Landscape
  • Nature
  • Social activity
  • Social ties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science


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