We’re all looking at ways to make our property more secure, but did you know that nature can lend a helping hand when it comes to protecting your home?
As burglars themselves will tell you, deterrents are effective ways of making them walk on by and think about ransacking your neighbor instead—and clever landscaping and the correct choice of plants can be great deterrents.
So what should you be planting in order to keep the crooks at bay?
Having a patch of nettles won’t win you any gardening competitions but it could help you to deter the opportunist thief from entering your property.
In 2008, Calderdale Police Force in the UK recommended the use of defensive shrubbery to deter thieves, and Crime Prevention Officer Keith Williams claimed that the use of nettles would be effective against casual crooks.
Just remember not to have dock leaves – nature’s natural antidote – close by.
Nature’s own barbed wire
PC Williams of Calderdale Police admitted that stinging nettles “will not deter more persistent offenders,” but there are many more inhospitable plants that will produce more than just an unpleasant rash.
A number of horticultural experts were asked for their views on nature and home security, and while their opinions differed, all of the plants mentioned are capable of making thieves think twice about crossing over otherwise vulnerable access points on your property.
Over at Mahoney’s Garden Centers they advocate the use of Pyracantha, a very attractive plant that catches the eye — but you wouldn’t want to put your eyeballs too close to the thinly disguised, barbed needles that lurk behind the clusters of berries.
Similarly, the leaves of a Yucca Plant have been described as ‘sword-like,’ and this native of the Southwestern US can also be beautiful. While calling it deadly may be an exaggeration, the spiky tips can certainly do a number on human flesh.
Make it obvious
The Pyracantha and the Yucca may look attractive, and unless your designated burglar is a regular reader of Hymotion, they may not be initially deterred from entering your property on sight alone.
However, beauty isn’t a quality often associated with a plant known as the Devil’s Walking Stick. It’s a fitting name for the ugly species, which Growing with Plants’ Matt Mattus describes as “Covered with long, thin and devilishly sharp thorns…
If located properly, such as between a walk and a window, it can quickly produce a nasty stockade worthy of a torture chamber.”
Similarly, the barberry bush grows up to 15 feet tall and is distinguished by wicked thorns. In contrast with other plants that conceal their weapons, these are overtly threatening and more likely to deter potential burglars at first glance.
Nature’s Little Shop of Horrors
Not all plants can be stunningly beautiful, and you’re unlikely to find any of these bad boys at a Dutch Flower Market anytime soon. They scream ‘toxic’ at any intruder even though they may be relatively harmless.
The Bleeding Tooth Fungus needs no further description, and its vivid red spores won’t win any beauty contests, but at least it has a more attractive name than the equally ugly Sea Anemone Mushroom / Octopus Stinkhorn.
Both of these plants look hideous – there’s no other word for it – and if you want a choice of there’s a host of alternatives from the Dolls Eye to the Chinese Black Batflower. If you feel this wouldn’t be enough to dissuade a less squeamish thief, why not get creative and use the plants to spell out phrases such as “Keep Out”?
A caveat: be prepared for a lot of attention on Halloween — might want to start stocking up on candy now.
A list of don’ts
Home security landscaping isn’t limited to leafy things — shore up your collection of hazardous plants by laying down some noisy, crunchy gravel along all of your access routes.
However, there are aspects to garden care that can assist the thieves: Here’s what a criminal looks for when they’re assessing potential targets.
Tall fencing, trees or bushes: A high fence or a thriving crop of Cypress Leylandii might give you some privacy from annoying neighbors, but they can provide cover and shelter for burglars too. If they’re particularly close to your windows, then a thief can simply reach out and break in without being detected.
An unkempt garden or un-mowed lawn is probably a sign of idleness, but it could also give clues that you are away from home. If you’re cultivating stinging nettles or any of the other unattractive plants that we’ve featured here then try to retain a balance between danger and beauty!
Do you have any of these plants growing in your garden? Do you think nature provides its own deterrent when it comes to property theft?
This post was written by Kevin Raposo, a blogger for SimpliSafe security systems. Kevin typically covers issues related to home security, tech, crime, and safety. When he’s not tending to his garden, you can usually find him on the basketball court, exercising, or just hanging out with friends.