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How Strategic Garden Design Can Be an Intruder Deterrent

Our technician is installing smart cameras for a client's garden

Your home is your haven, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be a target for criminals. We protect our homes by securing our windows and doors and installing security devices, but what about the outside of your home?

When criminals are able to gain access to your property with ease, it automatically increases the chances of them getting into your home, potentially resulting in significant financial losses.

If you want to make your Miami property as secure as possible, it’s just as important to focus on the outside of your home as it is on the inside.

A Look at U.S. Crime Statistics:

Let’s look at some of the most recent crime statistics in the United States, according to Forbes Home.


Landscaping vs. Gardening – They’re Not One and the Same

Landscaping shouldn’t be confused with gardening as they’re not entirely the same.

Gardening is more about caring for your plants, manicuring your lawn, and even composting. Landscaping, on the other hand, is about making your outdoor space more practical, beautiful, and secure.

Landscaping focuses on surfaces, boundaries, and features in your garden and doesn’t revolve solely around plants. Basically, you want to use landscaping to make it more difficult for neighbors and intruders to see in and get into your garden.

It’s not about turning your home into an unwelcoming fortress, either. Landscaping combines aspects of gardening with the strategic placement of plants and objects to create a more secure outdoor environment.

For example, trimming your hedges not only makes your garden look more beautiful it also gives intruders fewer spaces to hide and provides you with clearer CCTV footage. 

How to Use Strategic Garden Design to Keep Intruders Out

Let’s look at a few tactics you can implement to make it harder for criminals to get into your property and closer to your home.

Illuminate Your Landscape:

The more well-lit your outdoor area is, the less likely it is that criminals can get close to your home.

Landscaping lighting illuminates potential hiding spots, which automatically makes your home a less appealing target.

Some of the lighting options you can consider include:

  • Motion-activated lights. Adding motion-activated lights around the perimeter of your home will ensure that intruders are surprised and scared away should they try and enter your property. Motion-activated lighting can also help you save on electricity costs since they won’t be on all the time.

  • Pathway lighting. Low-voltage lighting can be added to your walkways and driveways to minimize the risk of someone approaching your home. This type of lighting will also make it easier for you to see when someone is walking up to your home.

  • Floodlights. If you have a larger property with darker areas, floodlights can make a significant difference to your security. You can either add a timer to these lights for added convenience or install motion-triggered floodlights.

Create Gravel Pathways:

Besides rock or gravel pathways being aesthetically pleasing, they can also help deter intruders and alert you to the fact that someone may be approaching your home.

The sound that rock and gravel footpaths make can serve as an early deterrent, so consider creating these pathways in the areas leading up to your home. As an added bonus, gravel and rock pathways are cost-effective and require minimal maintenance, making them an easy landscaping addition.  

Pay Attention to Second-Story Windows:

If you live in a multi-story house, it’s important to remove any trees that could give intruders access to the upper levels of your home.

Evaluate the entire perimeter of your home. A tree that you think might not be an issue could be next to a wall or shed that can be used as a step ladder. For greater peace of mind, try and keep all trees as far away from your home as possible.

And, if there are trees you don’t want to remove, it’s important to regularly trim back branches that are getting too close to your windows on the top floor.

Think Twice About Trellises:

There’s no denying that trellises can add a classic touch to your garden, but they can also give someone a leg up into a second-floor window.

If possible, it’s best to keep trellises away from your house. Instead, find other ways to integrate them into your space. Mesh is another option you can consider. It can achieve a similar effect to trellises but can be placed flat against a wall. The lightweight nature of mesh also means they’re next to impossible to climb.

Rethink Plant Types and Placement:

Plants can be used to beautify your garden, but certain types of greenery can also be a security advantage.

The key is to get strategic about the plants you use in the most vulnerable areas of your garden to intimidate and deter intruders. Here are a few ideas.

  • Bougainvillea. These plants are not only lovely to look at, but they can reach heights of up to 40 feet. What’s more, these plants have flowers as well as harmful sap, so people tend to stay away from them. Another major plus is that bougainvillea is often cultivated in South Florida, giving Miami residents easy access to this plant.

  • Holly. Growing and maintaining hedges around your property is another easy way to keep intruders out, or at least make them think twice about getting in. Even more so if you pair your hedges with CCTV cameras and motion-activated lights. Holly is a particularly popular option because it’s dense, evergreen, and has an array of small thorns that can cling onto clothing and rip the skin. Just make sure you’re trimming your holly regularly as this plant can get out of control.

  • Roses. Roses are another top landscaping choice. You can either grow them out as a hedge or opt for a climbing variety, which you can weave in and around your fencing. The result is a beautiful, thorny barrier that can help deter intruders, while still maintaining the aesthetics of your garden. Growing roses under vulnerable windows is also a good option.

  • Cacti. Cacti and agave love the climate in Florida, which is why many residents use them in their garden designs. Once they start growing in dense groups, they’re next to impossible to penetrate, with the thorns increasing your security even further.

  • Darwin’s Barberry. Another plant that will provide you with a spiky texture that’s similar to holly is Darwin’s Barberry. This evergreen plant is ideal as a hedge, but produces lovely orange and yellow flowers, making it the perfect combination between secure and aesthetically pleasing. As an added bonus, it requires very little maintenance.

  • Blackthorn. A final suggestion is Blackthorn, which grows dense formations and sports large thorns that stick out at right angles – not something an intruder will want to tangle with. Blackthorn can grow up to 10 feet tall, but it can also be trimmed to create a strong hedge. It’s best to use this particular plant around the far edges of your property due to the intense nature of the thorns.

Don’t Obscure the View from Your House:

While you do want to use trees and shrubs to stop others from seeing into your yard, plants shouldn’t obstruct your view.

You should always have a view of your driveway as well as most of your yard. If seeing your street parking is an option, aim for that too.

Rather aim to keep your garden as unobstructed as possible. Rather focus on securing the border of your property using large hedges and trees. Anything closer to your house shouldn’t create hiding spots or prevent you from seeing what’s going on when you look out your window. 

Keep Garden Items Secure:

If your garden is important to you, you more than likely have a number of tools lying around or stored in your shed.

It’s essential to never leave your garden tools outside as they can be used to break into your home. If you do always store them in your shed, make sure your shed is as secure as possible.

Anything of value that you use outside when entering guests should also be put away when not in use. Intruders who are able to spot potentially valuable items in your yard will be more determined to get in. 

Factors to Consider When Landscaping for Security

Now that you have an idea of how you can get more strategic about garden design for security purposes, let’s look at some additional factors you should consider.

Scale and Style:

Pick barriers that you can scale according to the size of your garden. You don’t want to have to plant more shrubs later on because of gaps. 

You also want to choose greenery and other materials that complement your home’s aesthetics. For example, adding an abundance of cacti to a Victorian-style property won’t work very well. 

Your Budget:

Before you start shopping around, set a budget for your landscaping project. Opting for materials and plants that are hardy will also reduce any maintenance costs in the long run.

You may also want to consider whether you want to hire an expert landscaper to assist you, ensuring you can get things done right the first time around. The average cost for professional landscaping services ranges from $7 – $20 per square foot. This cost would be over and above purchasing any materials or plants.

Growing Conditions and Placement:

When choosing plants, don’t forget to consider the amount of light and type of soil that’s required and decide whether it’s a good fit for your space. This is also where expert guidance can come in handy.

You should also consider how much shade certain plants will create. You don’t want your pool or other beds to be in shadows once a tree or hedge is fully grown.

Lastly, make sure that you’re not planting anything in an area that can be damaged later on. A tree’s root system can wreak havoc on a wall over the long term, resulting in unnecessary costs.

Rules and Regulations:

Before you start planting, check any local building codes and landscaping rules around property lines, fence heights, plant types, and outbuildings. 

For example, in Miami, at least 30% of your landscaping must consist of native plants and at least 50% of plants must be low-maintenance and drought-tolerant.

You also want to be a good neighbor, so don’t plant anything that could create shade or debris in your neighbor’s yard.

The Finishing Touches:

If you’re going to be planting harsh plants and hedges with thorns, consider adding in softer finishing touches such as flowers, garden beds, and other decorative pieces – water fountains are always a win. 

This will not only add to the overall ambiance of your outdoor space but offer some visually appealing focal points too.

A More Secure Home from the Outside In:

Making changes to the design of your garden not only increases the value of your Miami property but also makes it more secure.

There may be an initial cost to making changes of this nature, but it could help you reduce the risk of financial losses and higher insurance premiums later on.

Along with changing up the design of your garden, it also helps to evaluate your external security measures. When last did you check the integrity of your windows, doors, and locks?

A high-quality CCTV system can also do a lot to keep your home and its occupants safer and deter criminals. An intruder who knows they are being watched is less likely to want to pursue a break-in.

Motion sensors in your garden that are linked to an alarm are another way to make sure intruders can only get so far.

At Quickly Locksmith Miami, we often partner with homeowners and landscapers to secure homes from the outside in. If you want to reevaluate the security of your home as well as your property in general, we can assist.

Along with our in-depth knowledge of the latest security trends, we also have an understanding of your local area, ensuring you benefit from the most accurate advice possible. 

David Davidof

David Davidof

David Davidof is the founder & owner of Quickly Locksmith. The business has grown from strength to strength to become Miami’s go-to provider for Locksmith and Security services. Whilst the company has grown, the founding ethos has remained the same - Helping people in emergency situations and giving them the feeling they are safe.

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