The impact of landscape design
Whether you realize it or not, your yard is an advertisement. It gives passers-by an indication of your home’s value. Unfortunately, it also signals the potential ease of entry. Landscape is a key factor if thieves ever case your house. It lets them know how difficult it would be to break in, how long it would take and even where they should start.
Securing your windows and doors and replacing locks might put your mind at ease, but it isn’t doing as much as you might think. In fact, the layout of your yard might be an even more important consideration for your home’s security. In an interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, police officer Gwynne Friters identified landscape and lighting as the “two most important factors” to prevent burglaries and break-ins. Ultimately, effective prevention boils down to one thing— visibility. Landscape design, like lighting, is a great way to maximize an intruder’s chance of being seen.
Luckily, getting the most out of your yard is easy (and inexpensive). No need to splurge on a brand-new security system— a few minor tweaks will make a world of difference.
Trimming your shrubbery isn’t fun. Need an incentive? Here’s one. The more dense and unruly your bushes, the easier it is for thieves to find a hiding spot. Windows and doors obscured by shrubs are particularly vulnerable points of entry. By keeping bushes neat, tidy and short, your windows and doors are less appealing targets. If a criminal tries to break in, there’s a good chance they’ll be seen (if not by you, by someone nearby).
A thief is no match for an eagle-eyed neighbor. Vince Gortner, a former Deputy Police Chief in Naperville, Illinois, notes that “the best burglar alarm system consists of attentive neighbors and passersby who will call police if they see anything suspicious.” You won’t always be around to keep a lookout. By ensuring visibility, your community can help fill in the gaps.
They might make an effective deterrent, but adding metal spikes to all of your entry points is probably a bit extreme. Thorny plants, though, are the next best thing. Popular choices like rose bushes and holly provide both protection and beauty— they’ll add a nice pop of color and will prick and puncture anyone who comes too close. If intruders notice these painful plants, they’re less likely to try to get in through an entryway.
Silence is a thief’s best friend. Unfortunately, dense grass and paved walkways dramatically reduce the sound of incoming footsteps. Loose rocks and gravel, however, will only make their movements more noticeable. Every step has the potential to blow their cover, and that can be enough for thieves to look elsewhere.
Lights, even those that provide minimal illumination, are ultra-effective deterrents. Installing lights nearby or above entry points make it all but impossible to remain hidden. Solar walkway lights are another excellent choice.
A tall, sturdy fence is an extra hurdle (literally) for burglars attempting to get inside without detection. Fences make it difficult, if not impossible, for intruders to evaluate entry points. They can’t study what they can’t see. Additionally, anyone who attempts to climb a fence will subject themselves to a few critical seconds of visibility. Choose your fence height carefully — like shrubs, fences that are too high or too close to doors and windows create good hiding spots.
The bottom line
Revamping your yard is an excellent step forward, but it’s not an end-all be-all solution. A bush here and some rocks there aren’t enough to keep burglars at bay. When implemented with other security measures, however, strategic landscaping will is a painless way to maximize your protection.