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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Components of small urban parks that predict the possibility for restoration

Nordh, Helena; Hartig, Terry; Hägerhäll, Caroline; Fry, G


In densifying cities, small green spaces such as pocket parks are likely to become more important as settings for restoration. Well-designed small parks may serve restoration well, but earlier research on restorative environments does not provide detailed information about the specific components of the physical environment that support restoration. In this study we assessed the extent to which hardscape, grass, lower ground vegetation, flowering plants, bushes, trees, water, and size predicted the judged possibility for restoration in small urban green spaces. We took individual parks as the units of analysis. The parks were sampled from Scandinavian cities, and each park was represented by a single photo. Each photo was quantified in terms of the different objective park components and also rated on psychological variables related to restoration. The ratings on the psychological variables being away, fascination, likelihood of restoration, and preference were provided by groups of people familiar with such parks. The variables most predictive of the likelihood of restoration were the percentage of ground surface covered by grass, the amount of trees and bushes visible from the given viewing point, and apparent park size. Formal mediation analyses indicated distinctive patterns of full and partial mediation of the relations between environmental components and restoration likelihood by being away and fascination. Our results provide guidance for the design of small yet restorative urban parks. (C) 2009 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


Design; Pocket park; Landscape architecture; Stress; Restorative environments; Vegetation

Published in

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
2009, volume: 8, number: 4, pages: 225-235

Authors' information

Nordh, Helena
Hartig, Terry
Uppsala University
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
Fry, G

UKÄ Subject classification

Applied Psychology
Landscape Architecture

Publication Identifiers


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