Increasing greenery helps reduce crime

The economic benefits of having trees and other plants around your home have been proven time and again; large trees can provide shade and reduce your cooling bill in the summer and can also shield your home from cold winter winds. Other shrubs and flowering plants are pleasing to look at and can raise your property value as well as that of other homes in the area. In addition to the monetary benefits, having plenty of nature around your home can also help your mental health. One surprising benefit of having plenty of greenery around is that it may help reduce crime.

 According to a study done by the University of Illinois in 2001 the presence of greenery surrounding a residential building in inner city Chicago led to significantly reduced crime rates. The study is available for download on the university website and is behind a paywall, but there is a summary of the statistics available as well as a free powerpoint that can be used for educational purposes (after filling out a brief request form). According to this study it was found that apartment buildings that had more surrounding greenery had up to 48% fewer crimes as well as 52% fewer violent crimes. The authors also found that even small increases in greenery resulted in significant decreases in crime. The study proposes that the reason for this is that greenery reduces aggression and violent tendencies and brings people outdoors. With more people hanging out on their porches and socializing outside, criminals are discouraged from engaging in criminal activity. The authors also posit that an apartment building that looks well kept implies that the residents care about their living space and about each other, which might mean that the residents will report wrongdoing or be on the lookout for anything that looks suspicious.

 The issue with this study is that it is a purely correlational study. It would be difficult and costly to perform an actual experiment, and the housing development that is chosen to receive little to no greenery would suffer decreased mental health benefits. However, correlations can still be very valid evidence that city councils can use to promote landscaping efforts in the inner city. Indeed, it would provide even more opportunity to study the effects of greenery and crime rates. Unfortunately, since municipalities generally have limited budgets, it could be difficult to find the money for such a project, but the possible benefits definitely outweigh the costs.

Choosing the perfect plants to complement your home and neighborhood may be a challenge, but landscaping companies such as Ware Landscaping exist to help you get the most value out of the greenery you choose. If we assume that the study referenced above is valid, then you have yet another reason to make sure your home is surrounding by nature; discouraging criminals from coming to your home can also defer them from targeting other homes in your neighborhood so that the entire community can benefit.

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