Roses in front of windows

Plant thorny plants, like roses, in front of windows to deter home invaders from gaining access.

A lot of homeowners around here head south for half the year; many take no precautions to keep their home secure. There are lots of things you can do — two of the more obvious are to install a home security system and join a neighborhood watch group.

Yet your landscaping can also prevent potential problems. Here are some ideas to consider.

Lighting. Landscape lighting can help with security if the lights are visible from the street or other point of access to the property. Low voltage lights on timers work well. Or light up your mailbox with a solar spotlight to suggest that someone is home.

Do you have an outdoor light controlled by an inside switch? Replace the switch with a timer that automatically turns the light on at dusk and off at dawn, and varies those times with the season. The model we installed has a battery backup so a power failure won’t affect the programming. (That’s also a good feature for timers for inside lights.)

Barrier plantings. Use thorny and sharp-needled plants as foundation shrubs in front of windows that might be used to enter the residence. Roses, barberries, hollies, spruces, and sharp-needled pines can make an unsuspecting ne’er-do-well quite uncomfortable. Or plant a dense hedge of Otto Lukens Laurels or medium height evergreens that are tough to wade through.

Other ideas. Know the ultimate height of plants in your landscape. Burglars like to hide behind tall shrubs in front of windows and other points of entry.

Screening out the view of the house next door with a hedge or fence might be a great idea, but it also stops the neighbor from noticing any unusual activity on your property.

Post a security system sign in an obvious place near the street so it can be seen before entering the driveway; keep plants trimmed so they don’t hide the sign.

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is an approach for deterring crime by creating an environment that influences a potential offender prior to the criminal act being committed. Visit for more ideas.

Thanks to the Waynesville Police Department for providing input for this article.

Jim Janke is an Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Haywood County. For more information call the Haywood County Extension Center at 828-456-3575. © 2017 NC State University.

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