Planting For Security

By Sharon Naylor

July 9, 2010 5 min read

The landscaping all around your home can add an extra layer of security for your house, your belongings and the precious people who live inside. If you ever have watched the show "It Takes a Thief," you know that burglars can be quite resourceful when it comes to breaking and entering. The show's seasoned thief has spotted, on more than one occasion, a ground-floor window that was completely obscured by overgrown shrubbery that he slipped behind and that shielded him from the neighbor's view while he easily broke the window lock and climbed inside. Sometimes he merely has to climb a tree to slip into a second-floor window. A few easy landscaping changes can protect your home from invaders, both human and wild animal. Imagine how easily squirrels can climb that same tree, access your roof and get into your attic. Here are the top five steps you need to take to ensure extra home security through smart planting and trimming: 1. Have trees trimmed. You may need to call in professionals for this perilous task, but it's essential to have tree limbs cleared to at least three or four feet away from your windows and roof. Tree branches that overhang your roof or second-floor balconies provide easy access for the ill-intentioned. 2. Plant prickly things in front of ground-floor windows. Bushes and plants with pain-inflicting leaves, such as holly and bayberry, deter anyone who tries to move among them to gain entrance to windows. Garden experts suggest the thorny shrub hawthorn as a great deterrent. The Western hawthorn bears particularly long, sharp thorns. Another useful plant is the firethorn, which also shows fabulous green in fall and winter, and gardeners also recommend barberry bushes for floral bursts in the spring and year-round sharp thorns. And for warmer-weather color that also provides a row of prickly security measures, plant rosebushes beneath windows. But keep in mind that not all rosebushes grow deterring thorns. Ask your local garden expert to recommend rose varieties that bear impressive thorns, along with impressive blooms. 3. Plant hedges around your property. These may not threaten potential intruders with thorns, but they do make it difficult for anyone to gain easy access to ground-floor and basement windows. Some popular plants for security-enhancing hedges include evergreens, boxwoods and Japanese yew plants whose labels say they only grow 3 to 4 feet in height. 4. Keep them low. If you plant too many tall or willowy trees around your home, including near the often-accessed backyard windows that are not in clear view of the street, you invite the attention of thieves, who like to break in to homes that have plenty of hidden areas because those areas make it easier for them to check out windows and other access spots. Trimming down overgrown shrubs and hedges lets your neighbors see who's slinking around your house, and as an added benefit, your more manicured landscaping makes your home look fresher and more modern. 5. Part of security for you may mean privacy. You may not want passers-by to be able to see into your home or onto your property easily. If bikes, kids' toys and pricey d?cor items are well-hidden by a screen of full trees, bushes or hedges planted around the outskirts of your property, they can remain on your terrace or deck. This spaced wall of shrubbery also cuts down on noise from traffic and the sounds of playing children, neighbors' blaring music and power tools, and other things that cause sound pollution, which detracts from your enjoying your outdoor areas. The "wall" shouldn't be a complete, non-see-through barrier, or else you lose the protective measure of your neighbors' being able to see those burglars casing your property; trees can make a world of difference when they're spaced five to six feet apart. For more information on security planting -- including detailed instructions on how to plant the new additions to your garden and property -- visit,, and 2010 CREATORS.COM

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