Frances E. Kuo, Director



Past Research

on green landscaping and...

ADHD Symptoms in Kids Across the U.S.

Inner City Girls & Self-discipline

Coping in the Inner City

Inner City Crime

Domestic Violence in the Inner City

Building Strong Inner City Communities


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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences    




Green Play Settings Reduce ADHD Symptoms

The Landscape and Human Health Lab’s research has shown that performing activities in green settings can reduce children’s Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms. In an initial, Midwestern-based survey, parents of children with AD/HD were more likely to nominate activities that typically occur in green outdoor settings as being best for their child’s symptoms and activities that typically occur in indoor or non-green outdoor settings as worst for symptoms. Also, parents rated their child’s symptoms as better, on average, after activities that occur in green settings than after activities in non-green settings. In the subsequent, nation-wide survey, parents again rated leisure activities—such as reading or playing sports—as improving children’s symptoms more when performed in green outdoor settings than in non-green settings.  A more recent study tested children with AD/HD in a controlled setting after they had walked in one of three environments that differed from one another in the level of greenery:  a park, a neighborhood, and a quiet downtown area.  The findings confirmed that the attention of children with AD/HD functions better after spending time in more natural settings

AD/HD affects up to 7% of children. Those afflicted have chronic difficulty paying attention and focusing on tasks and can be impulsive, outburst-prone, and sometimes aggressive. These behaviors often result in family conflict, peer rejection, and academic failure. Current treatments, drugs and behavioral therapy, do not work in all cases and in many cases offer only limited relief. These research findings suggest adding trees and greenery where children spend a lot of time, such as near homes and schools, and encouraging kids with AD/HD to play in greenspaces may help supplement established treatments to improve children’s functioning.


The information here is from the original scientific articles:

Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2001). “Coping with ADD: The surprising connection to green play settings.” Environment and Behavior, 33(1), 54-77.

Kuo, F.E., & Faber Taylor, A. (2004). “A potential natural treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence from a national study.” American Journal of Public Health, 94(9), 1580-1586.

Faber Taylor, A. & Kuo, F.E. (2009). "Children with attention deficits concentrate better after walk in the park." Journal of Attention Disorders, 12, 402-409.

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More questions? Contact Frances E. Kuo ( at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Landscape and Human Health Laboratory, 1101 W. Peabody Drive, Urbana, Illinois 61801.

This research was supported by the University of Illinois, by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculure, and by the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program on the recommendation of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council.