The following guest post was contributed by Dynamark Security of Richmond, a Virginia-based home security and alarm company.
There are dozens of ways you can improve your home security. Some of the best-known include purchasing a home security system, setting lights on timers while you’re away on holiday, and really obvious steps, like installing (and actually using!) functional locks on doors and windows.
But not every security solution starts inside the home. In fact, one of the most overlooked opportunities for creating a more secure household begins just outside the front door: your landscaping.
Overgrown Landscaping Attracts Thieves
Thieves looking for a home to break into aren’t just looking for a place they can access easily. They’re looking for a place they can access easily without being seen. This is why neighbors, pedestrians, and local traffic are your best friends when it comes to deterring a home invasion. Unfortunately for many homeowners, overgrown hedges, shrubs, and trees break this line of sight, providing ample cover for anyone attempting to break in.
Regular pruning is key to keeping this in check, especially for plants such as yew bushes that provide solid areas of cover throughout the entire year. Here’s an exercise: take a walk around your house and look at it from the street. Ask yourself, “Can I see my doors and first floor windows? Could I see someone trying to hide next to the house or garage?” If not, consider trimming back the offending shrubs or trees, replacing them with plants that provide less coverage, or even removing them altogether. Also look out for tree branches that could provide access to second story windows or rooftops. These windows are much less likely to be locked, and overhanging branches are one of the easiest ways to gain access to them.
Avid gardeners who live for tall, sprawling flowers in the summertime might be concerned about how their hobby can fit in with better home security, but the two are not mutually exclusive. By moving taller flowerbeds away from the base of the house and breaking them into smaller plantings with open space in between, lines of sight can be preserved without taking away from the effect of a garden in full bloom.
Savvy Planting Provides Protection
This isn’t to say that the safest landscaping option is a barren wasteland. In fact, there are ways to use landscaping strategically that actively discourage break-ins. Those ground floor windows that are so intriguing to potential thieves? They look a lot less appealing as points of entry when there are spiny plants positioned just underneath. Roses are a classic option, but holly and yucca can also be attractive options. Blackberries can provide not only protective thorns but a tasty treat in late summer. And for those living in drier climates, there are a number of striking cactus varieties that offer both beauty and security and, as a bonus, also require very little in the way of upkeep.
Of course, thorny plants don’t discriminate between friend and foe when they draw blood, so make sure you wear appropriate gloves and protective gear when planting, or hire professionals to take care of it for you. Consulting a professional landscaping company can also help you to find options that are right for both your climate and your home, so that you don’t find yourself having to plant and replant as you discover your power lines are too close, your drainage too slow, or your direct sunlight too limited for the plant that you had in mind.
The Safest Home is a Cared-For Home.
In the end, a home that looks occupied and well-kept is a home that looks watched over. Peeling paint, overgrown plants, and gutters filled with debris sends thieves a clear message: “Nobody cares about what happens to this house.” On the other hand, a landscape that shows thought and care, along with a prominent sign from a security company, indicates that here live residents who take their property seriously, security included.
Alarm systems, good locks, and solid relationships with neighbors are all key parts of keeping a home safe and secure. But better than stopping an attempted burglary in its tracks is preventing it from happening in the first place. We might not immediately think of landscaping as the first line of defense when we think about home security, but it absolutely has a part to play. And if a key part of your security system happens to be green, growing, and beautiful? So much the better for all of us.