Transforming inner-city landscapes: Trees, sense of safety, and preference

Frances E. Kuo, Magdalena Bacaicoa, William C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How would inner-city residents respond to the incorporation of trees and grass in their neighborhoods? Law enforcement officials have argued that, in these settings, trees and other forms of vegetation increase fear. Tree density, tree placement, and levels of grass maintenance were manipulated in photo simulations of neighborhood outdoor space. One hundred residents of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes living adjacent to the space rated the images with respect to preference and sense of safety. Although tree placement (subspaces created by trees, formality of arrangement) had little effect on sense of safety and no effect on preference, both tree density and grass maintenance had strong effects on preference and sense of safety (η2 s from .49 to .89). Surprisingly, tree density and grass maintenance increased both preference and sense of safety. Results suggest that - contrary to some views - trees and grass maintenance can increase sense of safety in inner-city neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-59
Number of pages32
JournalEnvironment and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science

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