That's why it shocks me when so few writers take time to sit down and map out their settings. It sounds like a waste of time, after all you can't use all the information on your setting as a block of text in your story or the reader will get bored, right? But it's amazing how many details you'll pick up, even some by accident, if you have a solid setting in your head - and how much better and more real your story will be as a result. You do it for your characters; you should do it for your setting, too.
To prove my point, read this excerpt from author Barbara O'Connor's middle-grade novel Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia:
"One time the school nurse called my mom and told her I should have my eyes checked," he said.
"What'd she say?"
"She got mad at me. She said why was I all the time causing trouble for her and Lloyd. She cussed at me and threw a can of pork and beans clear across the room."
My mouth dropped open in amazement and my mind set to work picturing those pork and beans sailing through the air towards Harlem. I wondered if he had ducked, and if he did, what did that can of pork and beans hit? Maybe Harlem had caught the can and hurled it back and whapped her right upside the head and she fell down right there in the kitchen.
I confess to feeling a tad guilty when my insides got stirred up with excitement over the prospect of telling everybody at school the real story about Harlem's mama.
"She didn't choke on a chicken bone," I'd tell that snooty Celia Pruitt. "She got hit with pork and beans."
Aside from her mastery of voice and her ability to capture exactly how a kid would react to Harlem's first statement (she didn't worry about Harlem being abused, she wondered if he ducked), Barbara uses her solid knowledge of her setting to introduce a detail: the can of pork and beans. Barbara knew just what might be in a southern, poor household's kitchen because she had put thought into her setting. Could she have used a can of soup? Or a jar of spaghetti sauce? Sure, but if wouldn't have the same flavor, if you will, as pork and beans.
You get that kind of detail from your setting, and that's what will make your story come to life.