Boundaries and access
The first line of defence against theft is to make sure property boundaries are secure, particularly to the rear, where people are often less watchful. Any measures taken have to be reasonable in law. Avoid using barbed wire or other materials that could seriously injure an intruder, as they may then take legal action against the homeowner.
Fences need to be of solid construction. Planning permission may be necessary for fences over 2m (6½ft). Check with your local planning office. If you live in a conservation area, check if there are any other restrictions.
- Fix 30-45cm (12-18in) trellis to the top of the a 1.8m (6ft) fence to deter prospective burglars. The trellis will not support the weight of a human and the noise of it breaking is a deterrent
- Growing thorny climbers like roses on fences to deter would-be thieves
- In front gardens it is better to have low walls and fences, no more than 1m (3¼ft) high, which will not screen intruders from view
- Keep the view into your front garden clear by pruning back overhanging branches and clipping foliage back from around windows and doors
Hedges can make a very good barrier. Most conifers will form a thick hedge that is difficult to get through. Thorny shrubs are most effective. Those listed below make a medium-large hedge 80cm-1.8m (3-6ft):
Berberis × stenophylla
Crataegus monogyna (hawthorn)
Ilex aquifolium (holly)
Rosa rugosa or R. spinosissima
Prunus spinosa (blackthorn)
Low-growing, thorny shrubs can be planted at the base of fences and below windows and drainpipes to deter intruders.
Drives and pathways
Gravel drives and paths make it impossible for an intruder to approach a property quietly.
Keep gates shut and locked whenever possible, especially those allowing access to the rear of the property. A good policy is to fit two locks to a gate, top and bottom, and ensure hinges are securely fixed to gate posts so that the gate cannot be lifted off its hinges.
Install outside security lighting that comes on automatically. Position lighting so not to be a nuisance to neighbours or a distraction for road users.
Plants, ornaments and containers
Important and expensive items can be protected in various ways:
- Proprietary land anchors such as Platipus Anchors are available to secure larger plants, garden furniture, containers and ornaments. Most are based on a permanent stake to which an item is chained or bolted
- Movement detectors can be attached to expensive items such as garden antiques and statuary – sensors beneath the object set off an alarm when moved
- Electronic tagging systems are available that are embedded into the item, enabling identification of recovered stolen property
- Mark your property with your postcode, ideally by engraving
- Large plantings of new shrubs can be secured by planting through chicken wire, then covering the area with soil or mulch
- Cement containers in place or bolt down to prevent theft. If stood on pot feet, a chain secured to a fixing point, such as a wall anchor, can be run through the drainage holes and fixed with a shackle
- Hanging baskets can be protected by using secure or locking brackets
Have a look at products available at your local garden centre or DIY superstore
Sheds and outbuildings
- Don’t make a burglar’s job easier by leaving gardening tools lying around – these are often used to force entry into houses
- The value of garden tools and equipment kept in sheds and outbuildings are often considerable
- Always mark your property with your postcode and house number. In most cases engraving will be the most suitable method
- Make sure you have heavy duty locks on doors
- Secure the windows with appropriate locks
- Think about using a strong lockable box or cage within the shed in which you can securely store garden tools and garden chemicals
- More expensive items should only be stored in structurally sound buildings and outbuildings
- Consider fitting an alarm system