GIS analysis of urban schoolyard landcover in three U.S. cities

Alexis Schulman, Catherine Anne Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Although there has been considerable interest in the rejuvenation and greening of inner-city schoolyards for several decades, recent studies on the behavioral and environmental impacts of greenspace, particularly tree cover, suggest that greenspace on schools may be more important than previously understood. However, little is known about the conditions and landcover of urban schoolyards. To understand the structure of the landcover on city schoolyards, this study used Geographic Information System software to classify and compare landcover on 258 U.S. public elementary and middle schools in Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, and Detroit, MI. For all three cities, schoolyard was found to cover, on average, more than 68% of the school property, which was an average of 1.0-2.5 ha in size. Boston's schoolyards (circa 1995) were notably smaller from those in Baltimore and Detroit, and they had far more impervious surface. On average, schoolyards were dominated by turf grass and impervious surface, while tree canopy occupied the smallest fraction of schoolyard landcover (approximately 10%). In light of these findings, we conclude by discussing how greening might be achieved on these and other yards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-80
Number of pages16
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Urban Studies


  • GIS
  • Greenspace
  • Landcover
  • Schoolyard
  • Urban forest


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