Nobody wants their home to become a target for burglars. But for too many Americans, that nightmare becomes a reality. You probably already know that an alarm system and secure windows can help keep burglars away. But you may be overlooking one of your biggest assets in deterring intruders: your garden and yard.
Below, check out all of the yard features that can keep burglars away from your home, including tips from everybody’s favorite network, HGTV, on the most surprising garden feature that can deter burglars (page 15).
15. Landscape lighting
There’s a reason why home security experts recommend installing more lighting to deter burglars: It’s pretty hard to slink around in the shadows if there aren’t any shadows to be found. Angie’s List recommends considering motion sensor lighting, solar pathway lights, uplighting against your house, and even downlighting in trees. Landscape lighting often proves a good deterrent for intruders, especially because your neighbors can see your entire yard. As HGTV notes, of motion-activated lights in particular, burglars “may think someone is watching — and skedaddle.”
Next: Install one of these around your yard.
14. A strong fence
Another unsurprising, but still useful, tactic in using your yard to keep burglars away? Installing a strong fence. SafeWise reports that fences that intruders would find difficult to climb or break through will offer you the most protection against theft. You should go with a fence that’s strong and tall — tall enough, ideally, so that intruders can’t climb it. And ensure that when you choose a gate, you go with a lock or latch that self-closes, and doesn’t leave room for someone to unlatch it from the outside.
Next: One of these can help, too.
13. A dense hedge
House Beautiful recommends planting a hedge to protect your home against burglars. Go with a dense evergreen, such as bamboo, yew, or laurel, which will grow to form a physical barrier that intruders will struggle to cross. House Beautiful reports that these plants “all grow into a tall and solid barrier.” Or, you can go with low plants, such as creeping juniper, instead, since they will make it difficult for burglars to walk them.
Next: This landscaping idea looks pretty, but deters intruders, too.
12. Evergreen shrubs with gravel between them
Another recommendation from House Beautiful? Plant evergreen shrubs, with gravel laid between them, around your garden. It’s a Pinterest-worthy look, but also one that, surprisingly enough, will also protect your home against intruders. That gravel “will mean that anyone crossing it will make a loud crunching noise, so no one can approach without you hearing them.”
Next: This small item can have a big impact.
11. Your home security company’s sign
Another classic garden addition that can protect your home against burglary? A sign announcing that you have an alarm system. Of course, you don’t just want the sign — the alarm system and the monitoring by a home security company counts as “your best bet” for preventing theft, according to SafeWise. But many burglars will move on when they see the sign, looking for an easier target. You can put up signs in your yard and stickers in your window with the security company’s name prominently displayed to make it obvious that your home is protected.
Next: One of these items should be full, and the other should be empty.
10. An empty mailbox but a full trash can
If you’re going to be away from home for a few days, HGTV recommends enlisting your neighbors to help your home looked lived-in. The first order of business? Emptying the mailbox so that your absence isn’t obvious. HGTV also notes that the trash can is another giveaway. “Thieves have been known to watch on trash days, to see which houses aren’t putting anything out (because it means the occupants are likely away). Asking a neighbor to occasionally put out your trash ensures that no one will notice the garbage has been missing.”
Next: Try this landscaping trick.
9. Vines growing up your fences
Many people try to keep plants from growing up their fences. But House Beautiful recommends intentionally embracing that look in the name of home security. “Thorny climbers grown over fences make them more tricky to scale,” the publication advises readers worried about burglars. “Look for roses with vigorous growth and spiny stems, such as Rosa rugosa.”
Next: Think twice before putting these in your front yard.
8. A lack of expensive decorations
House Beautiful offers another practical piece of advice. In order to avoid attracting burglars to your front garden, don’t decorate that space with pricy ornaments or expensive pots. But remember that you don’t have to forego them entirely. Keep those decorative items in your back garden, and make sure that they’re well-secured to prevent intruders from running off with them.
Next: Try putting one of these in your yard.
7. ‘Beware of dog’ signs — even if you don’t have a dog
HGTV recommends another small tweak that can deter burglars. (And don’t worry: This change is a much lower commitment than actually adopting a dog, though that’s always a great option, too!) As HGTV explains, installing a “Beware of Dog” sign in your yard or leaving a bowl and a chain by your back door can scare off burglars. And both items work even if you don’t really have a dog.
Next: Think about whether you have this.
6. A place to hide your belongings
SafeWise reports that another key way to deter burglars is to secure the items that you keep in your yard. Find a hidden place to keep your ladder (like your shed or garage). Or, chain or padlock it so that burglars can’t use it to gain entry to your second floor. Put your tools away in your shed or garage to keep intruders from using them against you. And use a chain or a cable to lock down your patio furniture so that burglars can’t take them.
Next: Make this small change.
5. Large house numbers on your mailbox
Home Advisor reports that one small thing you can add to your yard can make a major difference in deterring burglars. The publication recommends that you install large, reflective numbers on your house or mailbox. “This makes it easier for police to identify your home in the event of an emergency,” Home Advisor explains. “Burglars prefer dark houses difficult to identify by address, as it can buy them crucial spare moments in the event they’re caught in the act.”
Next: Take a close look at your trees.
4. Trees that don’t overhang your roof
Another key to using your backyard to deter burglars? Don’t plant anything that will make it easier for intruders to get into your home. HGTV reports that you should plant or prune your trees so that the branches don’t overhang the roof of your house. A sturdy branch leading straight to a window or an upstairs balcony can give burglars an easy way in. As HGTV puts it, “Several feet of space between the roof and canopy are much safer.”
Next: You may need to thin things out.
3. Sparse plantings
Many people love having dense plantings in their gardens. But as HGTV reports, one of your best defenses against burglars “can be the eyes and ears of your neighbors. If you have a junglelike yard, your neighbors can’t keep an eye on your front door when you’re not home.” HGTV also reports that you want to be able to see out of your windows, and too much vegetation around them can give burglars a place to hide. Fortunately, moderation is key! HGTV recommends not getting rid of plants, just thinning them out.
Next: Don’t forget to keep up with the maintenance.
2. Well-maintained landscaping
Similarly, House Beautiful reports that you shouldn’t let any of your plants — even ones that you specifically want to deter burglars — get too big. “An overgrown garden gives thieves shelter and plenty of places to hide,” the publication notes. “Leave points of entry to the house visible to the street and illuminate them with a motion-sensor light if possible.”
Next: Add some of these surprisingly helpful plants to your yard.
1. Security plants
HGTV’s top tip for keeping burglars away from your home using your yard is to install “security plants.” You can plant shrubs and trees with sharp thorns to add a beautiful — but effective — security system to your yard. Anything from rose bushes to citrus trees to Washington hawthorns grow thorns that may stop burglars in their tracks. HGTV recommends planting roses, especially, under windows to ward off intruders. You can even opt for plants that have barbed leaves instead of true thorns, as those will likely be equally painful for burglars to encounter.
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