What message is your home sending to would-be burglars? There are some tactics you may want to consider to help keep intruders out of your home, while there are other home features you may want to avoid, as they may actually provide cover for a thief.
In the hope of creating privacy, some homeowners choose tall hedges, thick shrubbery and long driveways. But in some cases, the characteristics that allow for privacy can also make the perfect screen to shield a burglar’s suspicious activities from your neighbors.
Of course, there’s a way to balance the need for privacy with home security. From hostile vegetation to motion-sensitive lighting, defensive landscaping strategies can offer a sense of privacy while still allowing you to see what’s going on in and around your property.
Using the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring crime in communities, here are four landscaping must-haves to look for in your new home:
Protect with thorns.
There’s more to rose bushes than lovely petals; they can also pack a punch. One look at the thorny rose bushes in front of your windows may make a would-be intruder think twice. Thorny plants like holly or bird’s nest spruces can also work as a deterrent. If you live in a warm, dry climate, other options might include needle bush, Spanish bayonet (a spine-tipped yucca) or prickly pear cacti. Talk to local landscapers to identify the right species. Keep in mind, though, any shrubs near the house should be trimmed low so the area remains in full view of neighbors and passers-by, eliminating hiding places for intruders.
Maintain privacy without being hidden.
Thick shrubs and tall fencing may be great landscaping for privacy, but by obscuring your new house from the street, these landscaping choices can also invite burglars. CPTED principles suggest using the shortest, least sight-limiting fence appropriate for the situation. Fences should allow someone to see in (e.g., open, decorative ironwork), and hedges should be no higher than 3 feet; thorny specimens can help deter access. And consider trimming tree branches so the canopy begins at least 8 feet from the ground.
Scare with sound.
Lay gravel or stones in beds and paths below windows so you will be able to hear a would-be burglar’s footsteps loud and clear. For instance, pea gravel comes in a light stone color and can blend nicely with existing landscaping. It makes a loud crunching sound to alert homeowners to someone’s presence. As an added bonus, decorative gravel or stones are a water-saving alternative to grass in dryer climates.
Light up the night.
Keep your new property lit at night, but be considerate of “light pollution” that might annoy neighbors. A lighting system might include lighting at all entries, along pathways, and any other high-risk areas. A motion-based lighting system provides you with light when needed, and it also serves the double purpose of allowing you to see people approaching and letting someone know they’ve been detected. And because the lights are only activated when needed, they can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice.
Landscaping is sometimes overlooked as an element of home security. Having these tips in mind as you look at potential properties can help ensure that your new home keeps you safe and secure.