Now that cold weather has eliminated recreational pruning for 2016 here’s an outdoor landscape challenge for you, one that also involves your trees and shrubs: Survey your property to see how those plants add to or reduce the security of your home. Then make plans to rectify the situation. A few alterations to your landscaping can be enough to put off potential offenders.
Start by standing back and imagining you are a professional burglar. To avoid getting caught, intruders look for property they can get into and out of quickly. Their ideal target is a house surrounded by large hedges and shrubs, hampering visibility from the street and neighbor’s houses. Too often we use boundary plantings that serve as walls for privacy – evergreen walls!
Shrubs close to a house or along walkways are other potential shields and should be low, not more than four feet tall and set back.
Trees that could be climbed and allow access to open second story windows are tempting. Trellises might be used as ladders too. And those trees might be limiting coverage from your exterior lighting more than you want. Check that out, and while you’re at it, are there other places where lighting, perhaps motion-controlled, would be appropriate?
You might plan to place spiny (thorny) plants along fences, under windows and to block pathways being used as shortcuts. Such plants will discourage even the most nimble intruder. Protecting with spiny plants is as effective as the use of barbed wire and a lot more attractive.
This could become a community project, bringing neighbors together on nice, non-football, weekends. And that would bring up questions like “Are our fire hydrants easily visible?” Or has someone try to hide that ugly thing? Also ensure street signs and house numbers are clearly visible so visitors and the fire or police departments can easily find you in all seasons.
Written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer