In parts 1 and 2 of our home security series, we listed tips to keep your home safe by reinforcing doors, locks, windows and improving exterior lighting. Today’s home security tips include elements of landscaping, security systems and guard dogs.
Just as castles had moats back in the day to keep attackers out, your yard can serve as a first line of defense against intruders. First off, make sure that none of the features of your landscape aren’t serving to assist someone to either hide or get into your house. Take a look at your trees. If there are sturdy branches reaching too close to windows or that would allow someone to climb onto your roof you should have those branches removed. If there are bushes that create good hiding places next to entrances, they either need to be removed or trimmed back so they no longer provide a hiding spot for an ambush.
Thorny bushes under windows are a great way to deflect attempts at entering your house. Consider planting the ‘Voodoo’ rose variety. They are known to have significant thorns and will serve the purpose well. If roses are not for you, HGTV.com has some more great plant ideas to help defend your home.
A beautiful but thorny rosebush can deflect a potential break-in.
Privacy barriers are kind of tricky—some of my research states that walls and hedges provide another visual barrier for a burglar to hide behind. It’s recommended if you want some kind of a divide between the street and your yard that a short, picket fence of some kind will keep kids and pets in the yard, foreign animals and people from crossing through the yard, and is still easy enough to see through and over so no one can use it as a hiding place.
A picket fence is great to keep kids and dogs in the yard and makes it more challenging to enter your turf.
If you need a taller barricade to keep a really big dog in the backyard, try a chain-link fence. I know they are not pretty but at least there are no surprises behind one of these fences. If chain link will not do and you can afford it, a wrought-iron fence is both beautiful and functional. If you must have a wall to provide a greater sense of privacy, try choosing a wall that has an open pattern in it to make it hard to hide behind, or if you can get the permit, build a solid wall that is eight to 10 feet high. Such a barrier will likely be more of a challenge than most thieves want to take on.
If you already have a solid fence or wall in place and its height is not a challenge to scale then consider planting a thorny vine and train it to grow over the top line of the gate and fence. A vine that is noisy and painful to climb over may help deter someone from entering your property because climbing over the wall is too much trouble.
Take precautions with the gate that it’s kept locked and that the design of the gate doesn’t give anyone an easy leg up and over the barrier, either from the pattern on the gate or because the latch sticks out far enough to step on. Evaluate the lock to make sure it cannot be unlocked from outside the gate. With wrought-iron and other gate designs it can be fairly simple to reach through a gap and unlock the gate from the outside. If this is the case with your gate, have a double–cylinder lock installed and keep the key away from the gate. Do not store the key outside.
Buildings and sheds around the property should also be adequately locked up to keep from providing a shady and determined character with tools to break into your house. And don’t leave any of your tools lying around either, or you have defeated the purpose of locking the shed. Also chain and lock up any ladders that you have to prevent burglars from using those to get into your house as well.
Keep all tool and ladders locked in a shed so they can’t be used to break-in your house.
I saw an interview once where an ex-robber described what he looked for when scoping out a house. One of the first things he looked for was signs of a security system. The nicer and newer the system, the faster he walked away. Surveillance cameras were especially effective at deterring him from trying anything because he did not want to be seen.
Know how to use your security system to avoid false alarms.
There are many options for home security systems, ranging from alarms to surveillance monitoring. Some are better than others. Do your research and decide what works best for your home and family. A security system can bring great peace of mind, especially when you are on vacation for an extended period of time. Know how to use the security system so you can avoid false alarms, those can be embarrassing.
This is my personal favorite security feature. I grew up with a very loyal and protective guard dog at my side. She was excellent at informing us when we had a visitor. I remember the way she barked usually gave me some idea whether a friend or foe was approaching our house. And boy, did she have a sense about people. Guard dogs are an effective deterrent to intruders because they can’t approach the house with being announced. Please note that guard dogs are different than attack dogs and I am promoting guard dogs here. I leave the rest to you.
Guard dogs are great for sounding the alarm when someone is approaching the house.