Most homeowners landscape their homes to enhance visual appeal, ensure privacy or increase their property’s value.
All homeowners want their homes to be secure and want to limit the likelihood of break-ins, but few realize just how important their landscaping choices are in obtaining this goal.
How you landscape your front yard, side yards and backyard can either increase or decrease your home’s vulnerability and how appealing it is to potential burglars that may be casing your neighborhood.
For example, a lack of lighting or untrimmed shrubbery that blocks the view of your front door makes your home more enticing to potential home invaders, while gravel and a few strategically placed thorny bushes can help hold the bad buys at bay.
When most of us think about home security, we think of security alarms, sturdy doors, window locks and deadbolts, but far fewer of us think about landscape lighting to illuminate potential hiding spots or the importance of a front lawn that looks like it has been recently mowed.
While it is impossible to make your home completely burglar-proof, there are lots of steps you can take to make your home less vulnerable to invasion.
Window locks, deadbolts and a good security system are a great place to start, but you can make your home much more secure by also taking home security into consideration as you design your property’s landscape.
If you fail to consider the importance of your landscaping choices to the overall security of your property and how your landscaping affects your home’s vulnerability, you may be more likely to find yourself in the unfortunate situation of filing police reports and losing priceless personal possessions that cannot be replaced.
No one should feel unsafe in their homes or experience the violation of having a stranger enter your house and take something that belongs to you.
Although, simply losing a few possessions is a far better fate than the other horrible things that can happen if you or a member of your family is home when the bad guys break in.
You owe it to yourself and your family to make your home as safe as possible, and home security landscaping is an important part of lowering your risk for home invasion.
Home Security Landscaping Tips: Lighting
When homeowners begin to look for ways to fortify their home and scare away burglars, motion detector lights are often the first exterior security features added to their homes.
Motion-sensitive lighting that automatically turns on when someone enters the area is a great idea for darker spots around any property and a perfect place to start when increasing the safety of your home.
While you do not want to annoy your neighbors with floodlights that shine in their bedroom windows, a well-lit home is less likely to be invaded, and the more lighting you have around your home’s exterior, the better.
Starting at the front of your home, solar landscape lights that illuminate the pathway to your front door will help your guests safely find their way and provide a well-lit path to your home’s main access point, which will discourage potential burglars.
A good porch light that illuminates the area around your front door allows you to more quickly find your keys and enter your home, which increases your personal safety, while also allowing you to more easily identify guests and making your front door an undesirable entry point for unwanted visitors.
If you have a back door to your home, you will also want good lighting for your back porch to illuminate your back door and make it a less desirable entry point.
Accent lighting that illuminates attractive landscaping features can also be used to limit dark corners around your front yard, side yards or back yard to ensure fewer potential hiding spots for home invaders looking for an easy target.
Home Security Landscaping Tips: Limit Hiding Spots
Aside from illuminating dark corners and points of entry, you can also limit potential hiding spots by keeping bushes trimmed and ensuring that you do not place landscaping features in a way that provides conveniently located shrubbery or trees to hide behind or in.
Hedges that run along your side fence but end before the back fence of your property provide the perfect hiding spot for a burglar lying in wait for the best time to enter an unoccupied home.
Mazes and privacy hedges are great features to have in your backyard, but be sure to design them in a way that allows you to easily see around and behind them.
You may want to consider patio curtains to create privacy when needed, since this simple privacy feature can be opened when not in use to avoid creating an inviting spot for home invaders to hide.
Basements are pretty rare in Southern California, but if you happen to have one, be sure the view of your basement windows is not blocked by your landscaping, unless – of course – you plant a thorny bush that will make these access points less desirable.
Home Security Landscaping Tips: Clear Lines of Sight
Prowlers love good hiding places almost as much as they love homes that are tucked away behind high fences, tall bushes or trees that block the view of the home from the street.
We know you like your privacy, but you need to balance that with your need to ensure that your family is as safe as possible and that your home is not vulnerable to invasion.
Tall privacy fences provide the perfect cover for home invaders, since once they are over the fence they are free to prowl around your property and enter your home undetected.
The same goes for tall hedges and other landscaping features that block the view of neighbors, neighborhood watch members or folks driving by your home.
While six-foot fences are customary in backyards and often needed to keep pets in and provide privacy, your front fence should be short enough to not block the view of your home from the street.
Law enforcement agencies recommend that you also keep bushes to a maximum height of about three feet so that people can easily see into your front yard.
It is particularly important that there are no tree limbs, bushes or other plants blocking the view of your front door or windows, since these are common access points for burglars.
Making sure there is a clear line of sight from the street to your house makes it more difficult for prowlers to easily gain entrance to your home undetected, so this should be a priority in your landscape design.
Home Security Landscaping Tips: The Importance of Good Yard Care
Proper yard maintenance is an important part of keeping your yard safe for children and pets, ensuring your home gives off a positive impression to guests and passersby, and making sure you can fully enjoy your property.
It is also crucial to home security.
If you have tree branches that hang near second-story windows or balconies, you may as well just leave your ladder leaning against the outside of your house, since burglars can just as easily gain access to your home by climbing a tree to reach these entry points.
Part of maintaining a secure home is making sure you do not provide opportunities for prowlers to conveniently gain entry, so keep your trees trimmed and well away from windows.
As mentioned above, you also need to keep your bushes and hedges trimmed to avoid providing hiding places for burglars.
If you have children, always put their toys away after they are finished playing, particularly if they play in the front yard.
This makes your home safer for your family and guests by reducing tripping hazards, but it also removes evidence that prowlers look for when choosing homes.
Homes that have children’s toys in the front yard signal to potential burglars that there is likely a woman living in the home, which means there is probably some jewelry tucked away somewhere inside.
You should also keep sports equipment, bicycles and any other pricey possessions in the garage or stored indoors, since these items indicate that someone with expendable income lives in the home, which can lead them to believe there might be some good stuff inside to steal.
A lawn that has not been recently mowed makes it look like the homeowners are away on vacation, which is precisely when home invaders like to break in to homes.
If you are away from home often, you should consider hiring a landscaping service to keep your lawn mowed, or you can remove your natural grass lawn and install synthetic turf instead.
Manufactured grass provides the same attractive, lush look of natural grass but does not require mowing (or weeding, watering, fertilizing, edging and aerating), which means your lawn will always look perfectly mowed – no matter how long you have been away on business or visiting out-of-state family members.
Keeping your yard properly maintained does more than simply enhance the visual appeal of your home; it also helps deter bad guys from picking your house when looking for a target.
Each time you take out your yard care tools to work on your landscaping, make sure to always put them away once your home maintenance tasks are accomplished.
Shovels can be used to break windows, and ladders can provide access to upstairs entry points, so don’t provide potential prowlers with handy tools to help them gain access to your home.
Home Security Landscaping: Gravel, Thorns and Other Deterrents
Gravel is an attractive, affordable landscaping material that provides a simple, natural way to increase your home’s security.
Placing gravel below windows, leading to side and back doors and in walkways around your property is a great deterrent for burglars, since bad guys rely on going undetected when attempting to enter your home.
Gravel allows you to hear prowlers outside of your home when you are present and makes your home a less inviting target when you are away.
Part of the point of prowling is doing so silently, so creating a yard where walking is an audible activity can help keep your home safe.
Planting thorny bushes is another great deterrent, since burglars are most likely to choose vulnerable homes that they can easily get into and out of quickly.
If you have rose bushes under your windows, hawthorn around the perimeter of your yard or juniper growing in potential hiding spots, you can limit the ease of access burglars will have to your home.
While this may need to go without saying, locked gates are also a great deterrent.
It may seem obvious that you should keep your gates locked, you might be surprised how many homeowners do not even have locks on the gates leading to their driveways, side yards or backyards.
If you have gates on your property, add locks to help keep prowlers out.
Finally, nosy neighbors may seem like a nuisance, but they are a huge asset when it comes to preventing home invasions.
You may not like that your neighbor can perfectly describe your backyard with their eyes closed or that they seem to be peeking through their curtains every time you pull out of your driveway, but learn to love those nosy neighbors for the eyes and ears they provide for the entire neighborhood.
If they are watching you leave your house, that means they are also keeping an eye on whoever stops by when you are gone.
People with bad intentions do not want to get caught; while they are casing your place, they are sure to notice those prying eyes watching them through the blinds across the street.
What home security features have you added to make your home less vulnerable?
Share your home security tips with us in the comments below.
Photo Credits (in order of appearance): morgueFile, melschmitz; morgueFile, click; morgueFile, taliesin; morgueFile, DuBoix; morgueFile, xpistwv.