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  • Lucy Glover

Your garden can deter burglars, and instead attract wildlife

We would all prefer to see bees and birds enjoying our garden, rather than it being somewhere an intruder sees as an entry point to our house.

My experience working with the Metropolitan Police and Secured by Design gave me a good insight into how a burglar looks at a garden, and what we can do to put them off targeting our house.

  1. The first layer of defence is light as no intruder wants to be seen, but the police don't recommend the motion sensitive lights that flick on as soon as a neighbour walks home late, or a fox wanders across the patio. These are more likely to make the home owner unduly nervous, and instead "disk till dawn" low voltage lights are recommended, such as these great ones from Ring, which can also alert you on your mobile phone if someone approaches your house.

  2. The next layer is planting - some prickly plants such as Pyracantha or Berberis around the boundaries will deter anyone thinking of climbing into your garden. Then inside these you can add beautiful plants to soften the look. If adding trees and shrubs, think about those that add height and impact without providing a place to hide or a structure to climb on.

  3. Gravel is a great deterrent; if an intruder sees it they are likely to move on as they will be heard approaching your house. But think carefully about the design and where to put it to ensure it looks good but can't be avoided by an intruder.

  4. Securing your shed is a really important step. 75% of burglaries are via the back garden, and in many cases the intruder will take something from the shed to break in, such as a heavy spade. Don't make it easy for them! Fit two high quality locks to the door, and make sure the hinges are solid too, and fixed with coach bolts rather than screws which can be undone from outside.

  5. Consider marking tools, bikes etc with Smartwater so that if they are stolen and recovered by the police, they can be traced back to you - so you get your property back, and the burglar can be linked to the crime and prosecuted.

  6. Use materials like trellis on boundaries - it may be counter-intuitive, but a burglar would rather see a solid fence that they can climb over (especially if the arris rail is helpfully on the outside) and then be hidden in your garden, rather than something that break under their weight, attracting attention and potentially causing injury or leaving evidence behind.

  7. Lastly, incorporate all these features into a garden design that looks natural, is full of colour and attracts wildlife, and as my Secured by Design sponsored Hampton Court garden design showed, where you and I just see a beautiful garden, a burglar sees somewhere that is not worth their time, leaving us to enjoy our outdoor space and home in peace.

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