We already know eating your greens is vital for good health, but immersing yourself in green space might be just as important. Whether it’s a remote mountaintop or an urban oasis, green space is emerging as a powerful force for good mental health. Exposure to green space can help alleviate depressionADHDAlzheimer’s, and more. One particularly astounding study found that green space is nothing less than a superhero: it actually fights crime.

Here’s how that worked: 541 vacant lots in Philadelphia were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. In the first, they were “cleaned and greened,” meaning trash was removed, grass and trees were planted, and the improvements were maintained over time. In the second, lots were cleaned on a regular basis, but no greenery was planted. And in the third, the lots were left untouched. Then, the research team used police reports to track crime in the area. Near the cleaned and greened lots, crime decreased by 13%, including a decrease in gun violence almost 30%—that’s a number that should grab any civic leader by the lapels.

Why is green space so powerful? Why does it make us feel refreshed and relaxed? And how on earth does it have the power to reduce crime and violence? This week, we’ll look at a few possibilities, plus think about how to apply the answer to our lives. Okay, let’s figure this out:

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