Your Yard is the First Line of Defense
Your Yard is the First Line of Defense

By Roger Overanout

You may not believe it but most burglars do not plan their break ins. They are crimes of opportunity. They pick what appears to be a simple target. If they see a greater risk than they anticipated, they move onto a safer target. Therefore the more effort you take to keep your home from seeming to be a simple target, the safer you will be. A multilayered structure is the best way to approach arranging your home security, and the first layer is the landscaping and other features of your yard.

Landscaping and Yard Security

A few simple changes to your landscaping can help to protect your home from would be burglars. They are looking for a home they can get into and out of quickly; the more time they spend in your home the more chance of getting caught. Their best target is a home surrounded by tall hedges and shrubs, which restricts visibility from the street and your neighbours' houses.

Trim your shrubbery and trees so that your doors and windows can be seen by neighbors, and from the street, by forgoing a little privacy you will not be providing a hiding place for a burglar. If you have more than one floor, prune trees away from upper floor windows to prevent an intruder using them as a ladder, also make sure any trellises won't provide a convenient ladder to gain entry to the upper floors.

All planting close to the sidewalk, driveways, doors or gates, should be kept low - say no more than two feet in height. As you move further away from the sidewalk you can increase the height but keep it down to no more than four feet. Any plant under the window should be kept below the windowsill. Trees should have their lower branches trimmed to at least seven feet off the ground. Be sure to keep your lawn trimmed; an uncut lawn will indicate to a potential burglar that you have been away from your home for some time.

By placing gravel on the ground under windows you will be warned if someone walks on it, this can be a useful psychological deterrent. Remember not to have any large rocks or stones near glass windows or doors. There's no point in providing a burglar with his tools! Plant spiny (thorny) plants along fences and under windows, and on border fences, roses are ideal. Protecting your home with spiny plants is as good as using barbed wire, and it looks a lot better too.

Street Numbers

Make sure your house number can be seen easily from the street. This can save time for the police and emergency services if they need to find your home. It is best to use numbers made of reflective materials, or alternatively black on white, they should be at least six inches high to facilitate visibility from the street. Keep the number clean and trim any plants, so it can be seen. The number should be illuminated and near the front door or the garage entrance.

Limiting Access to Yards and Store Rooms

The main thing burglars are looking for is an obstruction free and speedy exit. Fences will stop burglars from carrying away your larger processions, if the gates are locked. Gates should be locked at all times! Make sure that any ladders and tools are stored in a garage or a storage shed, and these should be locked when not in use. To increase security chain your ladder to the wall of the garage when it is not being used. The idea is to use the landscaping to control access to your property. Proper fencing hedges etc. create barriers that will make a potential burglar feel uncomfortable as they approach your home, but will not prevent a neighbour or passer by from seeing any unusual activity.