Make your home sweet home unsweet to intruders
While it's not practical to turn your house into a totally impenetrable fortress, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the likelihood of becoming a target for home invasion. Make your property less attractive to potential intruders by employing these 10 simple, affordable, and effective defensive landscaping techniques.
1. Keep the Landscape Well-Maintained
The most important element of defensive landscaping is also the most basic: Keep your yard well-maintained. Keeping the grass mowed, the flower beds weed-free, and the bushes trimmed tells potential burglars you're home and attentive to your property. An unkempt yard can signal to invaders that you're not around much or that you're disorganized and may not pay too much attention to home security, making you an easy target.
If you don't have time to keep on top of it yourself, hire a top-rated local landscaper to take care of your yard for you.
2. Eliminate Plants That Provide Hiding Places
Towering clumps of pampas grass and big, mature shrubs may look lovely, but they also provide the perfect hiding places for intruders to lurk behind. Unscrupulous people can use these large plants as a vantage point where they'll scope out your property and learn your routine. Keep established plants trimmed under 2 feet tall and wide to minimize their use as hiding spots.
3. Use Defensive Flora to Create a Barrier
Defensive floras are barrier shrubs—basically anything with spines, thorns, or sharp leaves. Use barrier plants as hedges around the perimeter of your property to make it less appealing to invaders. It also forces determined burglars to use the official access point like the driveway or main gate, which tends to be more secure.
Good examples of barrier plants include holly and hawthorn. Bougainvillea is another excellent choice, as it has large thorns as well as dangerous sap. Cacti and agave are effective barrier plants in a desert climate. Giant rhubarb, hardy orange, and honey locust are also great options.
You can employ defensive flora close to the property, but remember that you don't want anything too tall and wide that may create a hiding place. Plus, if it's a part of the yard you enjoy with your kids, it's better not to use anything that can hurt them if they brush against it.
4. Use Strategically Placed Lighting
Aside from placing motion sensor lights close to your home, you can use strategically placed outdoor lighting throughout the rest of your landscape to deter trespassers.
Use solar lights along walkways, paths, and your driveway, and place accent lights close to retaining walls, trees, or any large item in your landscape that could provide a dark cover for intruders.
Frame your porch or doorway with soft lighting, too. This not only helps you find your way indoors easily at night but makes it difficult for a burglar to break in unseen through the front door.
5. Employ Cameras in Obvious Places
Don't keep your security cameras hidden. Sure, you want to catch images of anyone on your property, but prevention is much better than catching someone after the act. And cameras make great deterrents.
Burglars want to raid your home unseen and undisturbed and want to get away without getting caught. So make it obvious you take home security seriously and that (smile!) they're on camera. Mount cameras on your walls, the garage, or a pole, and even add an attention-grabbing sign letting them know you use closed-circuit television.
6. Avoid Trellises Against Walls
While most trespassers make their way in through the ground floor, agile and opportunistic thieves will get in through the upper floor if you make it easy for them. Anchoring trellises to walls does let you grow beautiful climbing plants, but it also provides an easy climbing frame for burglars. You're essentially giving them a ladder to climb up to the upper windows.
If you want to grow climbing plants, use a trellis mounted on your fence rather than against your home's walls.
7. Clear Trees From the Second Story
Agile interlopers can also shimmy their way up a tree to reach the upper floors of your home, so keep your trees trimmed well away from windows on higher floors.
And, to make tree maintenance easier long-term, don't plant any close to the house, as they create security issues and can eventually pose a risk in bad weather. Plus, their roots can cause havoc on water lines, sewage lines, and even building foundations.
8. Keep Tools Locked Away
Once you're done with your landscaping chores for the day, put your tools away in a safe, locked garage, shed, or toolbox. Leaving tools like hoes, rakes, and spades around gives thieves items that can be easily repurposed into tools to break into your house.
9. Create a Clean, Open Landscape
Keep the landscape clean and free of unnecessary plants, buildings, and other clutter. Use the space in front of your property to create a dramatic, sweeping vista that's essentially a large, open space with a well-manicured lawn, strategically placed pathways, and a driveway. Or opt for a terraced design, raised beds, and a gentle slope to add texture, layers, and drama to the landscape, keeping it simple, minimalist, and clean.
Combined with the other tips in this guide, a front yard landscaped in this way can give trespassers nowhere to hide, make it obvious you care for your property, and make your dwelling less appealing as a potential target.
10. Use Gravel and Stone in Strategic Locations
As the last line of landscaping defense, use noisy floor coverings in strategic locations. Go for gravel or stones under windows and in front of doorways so it's impossible to get close to an entry point without making lots of noise. This defensive landscaping technique is a simple but effective deterrent.