12 Oct What Makes The Ideal Green Space?
The benefits of green spaces are well known, but for those living in urban areas, accessing nature can be difficult. Could synthetic nature be the answer?
The health benefits of the great outdoors are well documented. Over the years, researchers have discovered that spending time in green spaces can have a positive impact on blood pressure and reduce stress levels. It has also been shown to improve wellbeing, and even boost brainpower, with people performing better at attention-demanding tasks after having spent time in a green space. And it’s not just health benefits – green spaces have also been shown to reduce crime levels and can even play a key role in community cohesion.
With so many advantages it’s plain to see that having access to green areas is critical to our wellbeing, both as individuals and as a society. But how do we create the ideal green space that can be easily incorporated into our lives?
Greening Our Cities
At the current time, over half of the world’s population live in towns and cities and this is expected to rise to 70% by the middle of the century. With so many people living in urban environments, it’s vital that we think about creating healthy and sustainable cities – and green spaces play a key role in this.
Luckily, many city planners and councils are waking up to the importance of having adequate green spaces and are looking at ways to integrate more of these into the city environment.
There is a lot of discussion about what makes the ‘ideal’ green space. There is evidence to suggest, for example, that areas with diverse wildlife such as nature reserves can offer greater health benefits than standard parks and green areas. But this is not always feasible in an urban area and cities have to look at other solutions such as developing and improving access to existing green spaces, or creating new amenities such as roof gardens.
Creating and maintaining parks is an expensive business however, which is why some cities are turning to artificial solutions to meet their greenery needs.
Can We Fake It?
Where providing access to ‘real’ nature is costly or difficult, artificial grass can offer a great alternative, at a fraction of the cost and effort. Technology has moved on so much in recent years that, to the casual observer, artificial grass is barely distinguishable from the real thing – and, perhaps surprisingly, it also offers many of the same advantages.
One of the primary reasons why spending time outdoors is good for your health is that it offers opportunities to relax and socialise with other people, and to take part in physical activity. And synthetic green spaces can provide these same opportunities. In addition to this, some research suggests that artificial nature can ‘trick’ the body into thinking it’s exposed to real nature, triggering the associated health responses of increased pain thresholds and decreased stress levels.
What’s more, the sheer flexibility and convenience of synthetic grass makes it attractive to city councils and event planners, enabling them to easily create temporary green spaces such as ‘pop-up parks’ during the summer months.
So, when it comes to creating urban spaces that can be enjoyed by all, can we fake green? Yes we can!
Of course, synthetic options are not ideal for every situation, but if we spend too much time worrying about what makes the ‘ideal’ green space, we risk missing out on the still significant benefits of the ‘good enough’ green spaces.
In almost every situation, synthetic nature is better than no nature at all, and, in the absence of real grass and trees, artificial greenery offers a pleasant and convenient way for city dwellers to enjoy the great outdoors.