Increasing tree canopy and green cover across Greater Sydney and increasing the proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 minutes' walk of quality green, open and public space are among the New South Wales premier's new priorities. Cities around Australia have similar goals.
In our latest study, we asked if more of any green space will do? Or does the type of green space matter for our mental health?
Our results suggest the type of green space does matter.
Adults with 30 percent or more of their neighbourhood covered in some form of tree canopy had 31 percent lower odds of developing psychological distress.
The same amount of tree cover was linked to 33 percent lower odds of developing fair to poor general health.
We also found poorer mental and general health among adults in areas with higher percentages of bare grass nearby, but there's likely more to that than meets the eye.
Our research did not show a mental health benefit from more bare grassed areas. This does not mean grass is bad for mental health.
Previous research suggests adults are less likely to wander in green spaces that are relatively plain and lacking in a variety of features or amenities.
This may also be partly attributable to preferences for green spaces with more complex vegetation, such as parks that mix grass with tree canopy.
Furthermore, large areas of bare grass in cities can make built environments more spread-out and less dense.
Without tree canopy to shield from the midday sun, this may increase the likelihood of people using cars for short trips instead of walking through a park or along a footpath.