Is Your Landscaping Making Your Home a Target for Criminals?
There are books, blogs, videos and television shows dedicated to helping homeowners improve landscaping on their property. They offer information to increase beauty, curb appeal, value and privacy. However, not all landscaping choices are wise when it comes to preventing property crimes, home invasions and burglaries. Like predators who use their environment to camouflage intent and reach their prey, some landscaping elements are inviting to criminals who want to ply their trade while evading discovery or capture.
Ornamental Evergreens, Grasses and Shrubs
New landscaping includes small plants that landscapers advise will grow to fill in empty spaces purposely left in planting beds. However, the planting areas should not fill in to provide cover for criminals who are intent on approaching the house and gaining entry. Plants continue to grow season after season and require regular maintenance to control growth. Small clumps of ornamental pampas grasses can spread to fill in large areas in a single season. Shrubs grow tall and wide, often blocking an open view of windows and doorways. Trimming evergreens and shrubs and planting grasses in buried containers prevent overgrowth.
Rubber and Wood Chip Mulch Is Too Quiet
Soft mulch muffles footsteps. Pea gravel is like an outdoor alarm system. The distinctive crunch of footsteps is easy to hear when someone is walking over it. Every little bit helps in deterring criminal activity. Gravel and other stone mulches still offer weed control and moisture retention for plants, but they also provide a built-in noise factor as a deterrent. Criminals take notice of the tiniest details when choosing a target, so it makes sense that homeowners should too.
Inefficient Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting should be composed of two elements: low-voltage lighting and flood lights. Low-voltage lighting that remains lit from dusk to dawn should be used to accentuate landscape features as well as provide security lighting for those navigating sidewalks in the dark. Flood lights connected to timed motion-detector sensors should stand ready to illuminate areas criminals are likely to use for hiding or to make an approach. However, many homes have low-voltage lighting that is improperly placed or not well maintained. Lights connected to motion sensors are also often not properly aimed or have burned out bulbs. Homeowners should also be certain that replacement bulbs are flood lamps and not spot lamps to illuminate the widest area possible.
Lawn Maintenance, Newspapers and Packages
Lawns of otherwise well-maintained homes that are not mowed are a signal to burglars that the home’s occupants are likely on vacation.. Most homeowners make arrangements to keep the grass cut and temporarily halt newspaper and mail delivery while on vacation. However, a little known trick criminals use is to monitor daily patterns of when newspapers and package deliveries are brought inside. These items routinely left out during the day are a sign to criminals that the occupants are likely away at work or school during the day.
The best thing homeowners can do is to take a look at their property and family routines through the eyes of someone who might like to gain entry to commit any sort of crime. This type of focused and critical viewpoint will reveal many easily correctable things that will help a home be safer against targeting for intrusion. The best safety measures for altering landscapes often cost little if any money. They just need some adjustment of routines and a little bit of landscape maintenance to make a home less desirable as a target for those with criminal intent.