Although we would all really rather not think about it, the fact remains that home security is for most of us, sadly, a very real concern – and when a house is broken into roughly every thirty seconds in the UK, it is scarcely something that is easy to ignore!
However, with a bit of thought, a spot of planning and a wise selection of plants, the garden can become a major asset in the struggle to control some of society’s less savoury members.
As any policeman will tell you, most burglaries are opportunistic – not planned – picking on a house that seems easy prey. Nine tenths of crime prevention, comes down to making your home look like too much trouble to break into – sending burglars off to look elsewhere for their ill-gotten gains.
Broken fences, unlocked gates and insecure boundaries really do play into the burglar’s hands and particularly around the back of the house. Once out of sight, the criminal has all the time in the world to find a way in – or simply empty your garden of its ornaments and your shed of all its tools.
Keeping boundary fences in good repair and using strong, weatherproof locks makes life much harder for would-be thieves – and adding a dense hedge of suitably prickly plants, such as Pyracantha, Berberis, hawthorn or holly, is a fantastic disincentive to intruders! Plantings of this kind can also be a great way of stopping people lurking behind the bushes in the front garden too while cutting back less unwelcoming trees and shrubs will remove more comfortable potential hiding places.
Paths and Access
From Baghdad to Berkshire, controlling access is a fundamental aspect of ensuring security. A house with gravelled paths and drives, for instance, is a very difficult proposition to approach unnoticed and any countryside ranger will tell you, nettles and brambles are worth their weight in gold when it comes to keeping unwanted visitors at bay, so even a wildlife garden can play its part. The more difficult or uncomfortable you can make it for an intruder to approach, the less likely you are ever to be bothered by one – which sounds like a pretty good outcome.
Adding outdoor security lighting will complete the defences after dark. Automatic types are the best – either motion sensing PIRs activated when someone approaches, or systems with light-sensors which switch on at dusk and off at dawn. PIR security lights tend to be high wattage, turning themselves off after a preset period of time, while recent advances in low energy bulbs have made all-night illumination surprisingly cheap to run.
Both systems have their own particular advantages – and their supporters – but in reality, which you choose is probably less important than the fact you do install something. There’s one sure thing – burglars certainly do not want to be noticed!
The rising popularity of “lifestyle” gardening has, unfortunately, increasingly led to thieves also targeting gardens themselves for the valuable items they contain – including outdoor furniture, statues, ornaments and even plants – along with the shed’s tools and equipment.
With thefts of lawnmowers, bicycles and expensive garden gadgets on the rise, fitting hinges with coach bolts or non-return screws and exchanging low-security locks for closed shackle padlocks is a very sound investment. DIY stores and your local crime prevention officer can give you good advice on the most appropriate ones to buy.
It is a sad reflection on modern life that your garden – supposed to be a place of relaxation and enjoyment – should have to be designed with security and crime in mind, but unfortunately for all too many households, it does. Just the thought of becoming a victim is enough to upset even the staunchest of souls, but with a little effort and a few simple precautions, your garden can go a long way towards helping give you the peace of mind you need.