Patrik Grahn

Patrik Grahn
Professor in landscape architecture, Agr Dr in landscape architecture, landscape architect MSc, biologist MSc Research in the SLU strategic area "The importance of nature experiences and companion animals for human health and well-being" since the mid-1980s


Started teaching in the subject "environmental psychology within landscape architecture" in 1992. Has since worked with the development of courses in horticultural therapy and health design. In the early 2000s, a one-year master's was developed in the field of "The importance of nature for human health". A couple of years ago, this master's degree was extended to become English-language, two-year and cover the entire area "The importance of nature experiences and companion animals for human health and well-being". The course is now run by researchers and teachers at several faculties within SLU.


Since the mid-1980s, research has focused on "The importance of nature experiences and companion animals for human health and well-being" (Grahn, 1991a). From start, the research was focused on preschools, schools, nursing homes and hospitals, where it turned out that green outdoor areas at these institutions were important: for children's development and health, for pedagogy at schools, for recreative activities at nursing homes and healthcare.

Research has shown that the qualities that people perceive in green areas can be divided into eight dimensions; Perceived Sensory Dimensions (PSDs). The first studies were conducted in the 1980s (Grahn, 1991b), and since then many studies have been conducted, both in Sweden and internationally. The eight PSDs contain different facets of how green areas can function as health-promoting (Grahn & Stigsdotter, 2010). A weighting of all studies conducted in Sweden and internationally shows how the eight PSDs are related to each other and how they are associated with, for example, the size of green areas (Stoltz & Grahn, 2021). They can be defined as indicators of cultural ecosystem services (Ottosson & Grahn, 2021; Stoltz & Grahn, 2021).

The urban green structure: In the early 1990s, a first epidemiologically oriented population study was conducted which showed that access to green areas is an important factor for public health (Grahn, 1993; 1994). These studies have since been expanded and deepened, focusing on the special qualities needed in green areas. The studies have also examined how access to the eight PSDs affects public health (Grahn & Stigsdotter, 2003; Björk et al. 2008; de Jong et al. 2012; Weimann et al. 2017).

Design of special places: From the mid-1990s, studies were conducted that focused on the importance of green areas in preschools (Grahn, 1996; Grahn et al 1997; Mårtensson et al 2009), nursing homes (Ottosson & Grahn, 2005; 2006) and workplaces (Stigsdotter & Grahn, 2004; Lottrup et al 2013).

From 2000, some of the research has been conducted at a special Living Lab; Alnarp Rehabilitation Garden, where the first participants were offered rehabilitation in the summer of 2002 (Stigsdotter & Grahn, 2002; 2003). The research has partly focused on examining the effect of nature-based interventions, partly on increasing knowledge of how interventions should be designed. The latter deals with both the content and design of environments and the content of therapy (Währborg et al 2014; Palsdottir et al 2014; Grahn et al 2017).

Evidence-based health design and planning: In recent years, the research has focused on guidelines and strategies regarding designing and planning health-promoting green areas. It is partly about further developing the knowledge about health-promoting qualities in green areas (Stoltz et al 2016; Stigsdotter et al 2017; Palsdottir et al 2018), and partly about developing strategies and guidelines on how to plan and design health-promoting green areas (Bengtsson & Grahn, 2014; Stigsdotter et al 2020).

Publikationer i urval

Bengtsson, A.; Grahn, P. 2014. Outdoor environments in healthcare settings: A quality evaluation tool for use in designing healthcare gardens. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 13 (4): 878-891

Björk, J.; Albin, M.; Grahn, P.; Jacobsson, H.; Ardö, J.; Wadbro, J.; Östergren, P-O.; Skärbäck, E. 2008. Recreational values of the natural environment in relation to neighbourhood satisfaction, physical activity, obesity and wellbeing. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 62 (4): e2-e2

De Jong, K.; Albin, M.; Skärbäck, E.; Grahn, P.; Björk. J. 2012. Perceived green qualities were associated with neighborhood satisfaction, physical activity, and general health: Results from a cross-sectional study in suburban and rural Scania, southern Sweden. Health & Place 18 (6): 1374-138

Grahn, P. 1991a. Om parkers betydelse: parkers möjligheter att underlätta och berika föreningsverksamhet och arbete på daghem, skolor, servicehus och sjukhus. SLU Alnarp.

Grahn, P. 1991b. Landscapes in our minds: people's choice of recreative places in towns. Landscape Research 16 (1): 11-19.

Grahn, P. 1993. Planera för bättre hälsa! Om sambandet mellan grönområden och hälsa, pp. 109-122 in Kullinger, B. (ed). Planera för en bärkraftig utveckling. Byggforskningsrådet T26:1993. Stockholm.

Grahn, P. 1994. Green structures - The importance for health of nature areas and parks. European Regional Planning 56: 89-112

Grahn, P. 1996. Wild nature makes children healthy. Swedish Building Research 4: 16-18                                                                                                            

Grahn, P.; Mårtensson, F.; Lindblad, B.; Nilsson, P.; Ekman, A. 1997. Ute på dagis: hur använder barn daghemsgården? Utformningen av daghemsgården och dess betydelse för lek, motorik och koncentrationsförmåga. SLU Alnarp.

Grahn, P.; Stigsdotter, U.A. 2003. Landscape planning and stress. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 2 (1): 1-18

Grahn, P.; Stigsdotter, U.K. 2010. The relation between perceived sensory dimensions of urban green space and stress restoration. Landscape and Urban Planning 94 (3-4): 264-27

Grahn, P.; Pálsdóttir, A.M.; Ottosson, J.; Jonsdottir, I.H. 2017. Longer nature-based rehabilitation may contribute to a faster return to work in patients with reactions to severe stress and/or depression. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14 (11), 1310

Lottrup, L.; Grahn, P.; Stigsdotter, U.K. 2013. Workplace greenery and perceived level of stress: Benefits of access to a green outdoor environment at the workplace. Landscape and Urban Planning 110: 5-11

Mårtensson, F.; Boldemann, C.; Söderström, M.; Blennow, M.; Englund, J.E.; Grahn, P. 2009. Outdoor environmental assessment of attention promoting settings for preschool children. Health & Place 15 (4): 1149-1157             

Ottosson, J.; Grahn, P. 2005. A comparison of leisure time spent in a garden with leisure time spent indoors: On measures of restoration in residents in geriatric care. Landscape Research 30 (1): 23-55

Ottosson, J.; Grahn, P. 2006. Measures of restoration in geriatric care residences: the influence of nature on elderly people's power of concentration, blood pressure and pulse rate. Journal of Housing for the Elderly 19 (3-4): 227-256

Ottosson, J.; Grahn, P. 2021. Nature Archetypes – Concepts Related to Objects and Phenomena in Natural Environments. A Swedish Case. Frontiers in Psychology. 11: 612672

Pálsdóttir, A.M.; Persson, D.; Persson, B.; Grahn, P. 2014. The journey of recovery and empowerment embraced by nature—Clients’ perspectives on nature-based rehabilitation in relation to the role of the natural environment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11 (7): 7094-7115

Pálsdóttir, A.M.; Stigsdotter, U.K.; Persson, D.; Thorpert, P.; Grahn, P. 2018. The qualities of natural environments that support the rehabilitation process of individuals with stress-related mental disorder in nature-based rehabilitation. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 29:312–321

Stigsdotter, U.; Grahn, P. 2002. What makes a garden a healing garden? Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 13 (2), 60-69               

Stigsdotter, U.; Grahn, P. 2003. Experiencing a garden: A healing garden for people suffering from burnout diseases. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 14 (5), 38-48

Stigsdotter, U.A.; Grahn, P. 2004. A garden at your workplace may reduce stress. Design & Health, 147-157

Stigsdotter, U.K.; Corazon, S.S.; Sidenius, U.; Refshauge, A.D.; Grahn, P. 2017. Forest design for mental health promotion—Using perceived sensory dimensions to elicit restorative responses. Landscape and Urban Planning 160, 1-15

Stoltz, J.; Grahn, P. 2021. Perceived Sensory Dimensions: An Evidence-based Approach to Greenspace Aesthetics. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 126989            

Stoltz, J.; Lundell, Y.; Skärbäck, E.; van den Bosch, M.A.; Grahn, P.; Nordström, E-M.; Dolling, A. 2016. Planning for restorative forests: describing stress-reducing qualities of forest stands. European Journal of Forest Research 135 (5), 803-813    

Stigsdotter, U.K.; Sidenius, U.; Grahn, P. 2020. From research to practice: operationalisation of the eight perceived sensory dimensions into a health-promoting design tool. Alam Cipta 13, 57-70

Weimann, H.; Rylander, L.; van den Bosch, M.A.; Albin, M.; Skärbäck, E.; Grahn, P.; Björk, J. 2017. Perception of safety is a prerequisite for the association between neighbourhood green qualities and physical activity: Results from a cross-sectional study in Sweden. Health & Place 45: 124-130

Währborg, P.; Petersson, I.F.; Grahn, P. 2014. Nature-assisted rehabilitation for reactions to severe stress and/or depression in a rehabilitation garden: Long-term follow-up including comparisons with a matched population cohort. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 46 (3), 271-276


I am currently working on the following projects:

1. BioESSHealth  - Financing: EU/Biodiversa. Link:

2. Sustainable living outdoor environments  -  Financing: Formas. Link:

3. NORDGREEN - Smart Planning for Healthy and Green Nordic Cities. Financing: Nordforsk. Link:

4. De-stressing outdoor environmental qualities in work areas for increased well-being, cooperation and productivity. Financing: Vinnova. Link:

5. Estimating the Role of Exposure and Access to Natural Environments for Wellbeing, Mental & Cognitive Health. Financing, Formas. Emotional disorders, chronic stress and cognitive dysfunction are major public health concerns associated with vast individual and societal costs. Understanding and targeting modifiable risk factors for these conditions is thus vital. Prior studies have found exposure and access to natural environments beneficial to mood, cognitive performance, stress reduction, and mental health. However, more knowledge is needed regarding the extent to which exposure and access to different natural environments (incl. different “green spaces”/vegetation and “blue spaces”/open waters) around individuals’ homes and workplaces play a role in mental and cognitive health at the population level. The purpose of the project is thus to investigate the role of access and exposure to different green and blue spaces for different aspects of mental and cognitive health, cross-sectionally and longitudinally, in a population-based and nationally representative cohort. There project will also entail collaboration with agents in society on the development and implementation of healthy environments. The results will contribute with important empirical bases for public health and urban planning policies.

Links to my publications:



Professor vid Institutionen för människa och samhälle
Telefon: +4640415425
Box 88
23053 Alnarp
Besöksadress: Slottsvägen 5, Alnarp