Leaves Versus Thieves: Security Landscaping For Your Home
Trees, shrubs, fences, outdoor lights – they all seem like harmless features of the suburban landscape. And they are, in and of themselves. But such elements can present an invitation to thieves – or a barrier to intruders, if used correctly. Millions of homes and businesses are burglarized each year in America; in 2011, victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated $4.8 billion in lost property. Believe it or not, your landscaping can help you avoid becoming a statistic. Here are some tips on how to use landscaping to improve the security of your home.
- Hedges and shrubs. These are perhaps your most critical landscape elements, in terms of deterring would-be intruders. Tall hedges and shrubs, particularly near windows and doors, give thieves a place to hide. Keep them trimmed to window height. Some shrubs create a natural barrier with thorns, spines, and other sharp elements, and can be used in place of fences and walls; good choices include barberry, holly, devil’s walking stick, and pyracantha. Check with your local garden center to see what might work best in your climate.
- Window boxes. Remember, thieves want to choose easy targets. Window boxes on ground floor windows may not seem like much of a deterrent, but they do make it that much harder to enter a window, giving would-be burglars a reason to look elsewhere.
- Outdoor lighting. Burglars like to hide under cover of darkness. Don’t give them that opportunity. Install outdoor lights, especially in spots that aren’t well defended, and equip them with motion sensors.
- Signs. Installing a home security system is ideal, of course. But if you can’t or don’t want to invest in such a system, you can put out a yard sign that says you do have that protection. Again, burglars are looking for paths of least resistance, so even the suggestion may scare them off. Even that old standby, the “Beware of Dog” sign, could help do the trick.
- Keep it tidy. Burglars are drawn to houses that appear unoccupied. To avoid that, keep the grass mowed and the shrubs trimmed. Don’t leave valuable toys or bicycles around the yard, which could tempt a thief looking for a quick score. And if you just bought a new computer or TV, don’t advertise the fact by leaving the box outside.
- Gravel. Spreading gravel under windows and along pathways will help send an audible alert when someone is approaching the house – or hiding where they shouldn’t be. Burglars naturally want to avoid making unnecessary noise.
- Approach with caution. Take a good look at the approach to your home. Is it hidden from view behind fences, shrubs, or other barriers, making it difficult for neighbors to see and easy for sneak thieves to traverse? Or is there open space that would make any visitor – or intruder – highly visible? A clear view makes your house less attractive to burglars. At the same time, a large rock or concrete garden ornament, strategically placed in an open area, can be just the sort of obstacle that makes burglars seek other targets.
- Avoid ladders, trellises, and the like. A ladder left leaning against a house can be an invitation to intruders, as can a decorative trellis. These items can be used to gain access to second-story windows.
- Fencing. A tall fence around the property may seem to create a barrier against thieves and enhance privacy. But unless it’s impenetrable, it can also give an intruder a place to hide from neighbors and passersby. It can’t be said often enough: burglars rely on not being seen, and visibility is a strong deterrent.
- Access control. For commercial spaces, such as office buildings, landscaping can be used to guide visitors and direct traffic, minimizing the opportunity for crime. Walkways, paths, fencing, signs, and other landscaping elements can help ensure that people and vehicles stay where they should.
Good landscaping adds beauty and value to your home or business. But landscaping done with security in mind can also improve safety. Keep burglars from getting into your home by taking the proper steps outside your home.
This guest post was written by Cara Giaimo, a blogger for SimpliSafe. You can find her scouring the news for the latest info about home security, technology, safety, and crime, playing with Boston street cats, or trying to outrun the MBTA. SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security is making its way to the top of their industry.