Many people think of their yard and garden simply as a beautiful and well-designed complement to their home’s architecture. Others may see it as a hobby, something to keep them busy. What you may not realize is that while your yard may be pleasing to the eye, it has the potential to decrease your safety while at home.
One of the most commonly overlooked factors in landscape design is home security. When thinking of security, most people would think of monitored alarm systems, fences, or even a barking dog. Even with all of these things, in a poorly designed yard there is the potential for danger to be lurking in the shadows.
Let’s go over a few safety concerns and ways that you can remedy the problems presented. If you’re starting from scratch, it may be a bit easier than if you are working with an already established property. We’ll also provide tips that will work with any yard, regardless of how well-developed it is.
To Discourage Potential Burglary
In order to reduce the risk of potential burglary, you’ll want to make sure to keep large bushes away from the windows and doors. These can be easily hidden behind, and used to surprise you as you enter your home. Keeping your bushes pruned well below the window can help to reduce these hiding spots.
If you do prefer to keep larger plants near your windows and doors, consider a plant that has thorns, such as roses, to discourage hiding. This will make it less likely that they’ll climb through the window above it or hide behind it.
Keep in mind that you will want to keep any trees near windows trimmed as well. You don’t want that burglar to use them to climb into an open window!
Another great way to discourage someone from approaching your home is to use ‘loud’ mulch in your garden beds and pathways. Choose something that makes a lot of noise when walked on, such as gravel or river rock, to reduce the possibility that someone can sneak up and surprise you. Cocoa coir doubles as noisy garden mulch and breaks down in your beds as well.
Light up your world
No discussion on home security in your yard would be complete without talking about lighting. You may be more familiar with blinding security lights that turn on when motion is detected. However, eliminating hiding areas in your yard can be accomplished by using appropriate lighting throughout.
Is there a spot near your home is always dark as you approach at night? You may not need a security light for that small space, but the simple addition of a solar light can remove that as a possible hiding spot.
What about the steps leading up to your door? You want to make sure that everything is well lit at night to reduce trip hazards. Of course, the security light on your house can accomplish this. A more elegant and effective option is to have lights on the steps, or alongside them. Using waterproof strip lighting, or solar lights at short intervals, will ensure that you are safe even on the darkest nights.
Besides adding an element of safety, lighting your yard has the added bonus which can transform your yard into a lovely nighttime oasis.
Dangerous Plants and Trees
When it comes to the plants in your yard causing damage to your home and person, trees are usually the first things to come to mind. Limbs dropping on your home in a windstorm can cause damage, and can threaten the safety of your family. That beautiful pine tree can become heavy with cones one year which can snap off in the lightest wind. This happens more often that you realize.
The best way to prevent this is to keep your trees well-maintained. You may want to have an arborist come in and take a look at your trees, especially any which are close to the house or walkways. They’ll be able to tell if there are any damaged limbs that may fall during the next winter storm.
If you’re planting trees for the first time, consider planting taller trees a little bit farther from the house. You can keep small trees, such as dwarf fruit trees, near the home for shade in the summer. They pose much less of a risk in the event of a windstorm.
What about the grass under your feet? Surely there is no danger here. One very important factor to consider when living in a hot and dry climate is the risk of fire. A green, well cared for yard reduces your risk of fire significantly, and can provide a barrier around your home. So don’t let your grass turn brown in the summer, as this is when there is highest risk of fire. Consider an in-ground sprinkler system to automate your grass watering, saving you time.
If you don’t have the ability to keep your grass lush and green during the summer months, you might consider creating a barrier between your yard and your home with “xeriscaped,” or low water, garden beds. You will be able to keep these plants green all summer long, without the need for constant watering. This way, thieves won’t instantly be able tell that you are away from home.
Maintain Your Yard to Protect Your Home
Keeping your yard maintained and tidy is more than just a matter of looking nice. One of the ways thieves discover that a homeowner is on vacation is the fact that the grass is a foot long! It’s important to have someone maintain your yard when you are away. You can have someone water the flowers and mow the grass so no one has a reason to think the house looks abandoned.
You also want to make sure that your yard doesn’t have any tools lying around that can be used to break into your home. Keeping the ladder in the garage and your shovels in the locked shed will make it that much more difficult for someone to enter your home uninvited.
Start Today to Make Your Yard Safe
Plan soon to make a tour about your yard and make a note of the things you can do to make your home safer. Here’s a checklist to get you started:
- After dark, take a look around your home, particularly at the shadowy places near your front entry or garage. Note any trees or shrubs which might pose as a potential hiding place and deal with them.
- Consider adding lights near paths, stairs and entries for safety with the added benefit of beauty to your yard.
- Note the tall trees in your yard and have them trimmed to eliminate potential breaking limb accidents.
- Keep your lawn green by regular watering to add a fire safety buffer zone.
- To prevent potential burglary, have someone maintain your yard while you are away. Don’t forget to have them collect any newspapers, phone books and the like, as well.
By making a few small changes to your existing landscaping, or starting from the ground up, you can ensure your family’s safety while at home. The tips in this article will get you started, or consider consulting with a qualified landscaper to help you design a haven that you can feel safe in.