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Helping to secure your home - crime prevention tips from unique garden can add security to your home

The ‘Safe & Secure’ crime prevention garden that proved such a hit at the at this year’s Royal Horticultural Society Hyde Hall Flower Show had many techniques incorporated into it to deter opportunistic burglars – and these techniques can be used in any front or rear garden.

The garden - a collaboration between Essex Police, Secured by Design and RHS Hyde Hall, showed how simple and affordable crime prevention measures can be incorporated into any front or rear garden to add an extra layer of security.

Safe Secure Hyde Hall 2

Essex Police Designing Out Crime Officer Stephen Armson-Smith said: “Thinking carefully about the layout of your garden you can provide an additional layer of security that can protect both your garden and home from crime. Nature can help fight back and can supplement conventional security products. Good landscape design, secure fences and the plants themselves, will not only create an aesthetically pleasing garden but also deter criminals”.

ITV Anglia 1 Stephen

Head of site at RHS Garden Hyde Hall Ian Le Gros said: “Well thought out defensive planting as part of garden design can provide an element of security, whilst at the same time provide a pleasant environment to live and work”.

ITV Anglia 2 Ian

Secured by Design Development Officer Lyn Poole said; “Garden security is such a great way to enhance the physical security of a home whatever size the house and garden".

The key security features, which make a garden safe, secure and sustainable include:

Boundaries and access - the first line of defence against theft is to make sure property boundaries are secure, particularly to the rear, where people are often less watchful.

Fences - fences need to be of solid construction. It is recommended that fences to the rear of your property are 1.8m, and to the front no higher than 1.2m. Low-growing thorny shrubs at the base of fences, windows and drainpipes, will also give added protection.

Drives and pathways - gravel drives and paths make it impossible for an intruder to approach a property quietly.

Gates - keep gates shut and locked whenever possible, especially those allowing access to the rear of the property. Fit two quality locks to a gate, top and bottom, and ensure hinges are securely fixed to gate posts so that the gate cannot be lifted off its hinges.

Lighting - install security lighting operated by a daylight sensor. Position lighting so not to be a nuisance to neighbours or a distraction for road users.

Mark your property - mark your valuable items using one the various property marking schemes or use a permanent marker to endorse it with your post code and house number or name.

Plants, ornaments and containers - proprietary land anchors can be used to secure larger plants, garden furniture, containers and ornaments. Most are based on a permanent stake to which an item is chained or bolted.

Sheds and outbuildings - look after your sheds and outbuilding, making sure that both the lock and the hinges are securely fitted. Don’t make a burglar’s job easier by leaving gardening tools lying around – these are often used to force entry into houses. Think about using a strong lockable box or cage within the shed in which you can securely store garden tools.

CCTV - gardens with expensive items may be best protected by installation of closed circuit television (CCTV). Domestic systems can be linked to your television or video to view your garden.

Plants that fight back - clearly, another level of defence are the plants themselves. Thorny, spiky and prickly plants can deter even the most determined burglar and may be all the protection you need around your property. If you choose the right plants, they can look aesthetically pleasing too and add drama to your garden. Planted in groups or as focal points there’s a vast array of forms, textures, and sizes to choose from.

RHS Show web intro

Ten plants than can help protect a home:

Eryngium bourgatii 'Oxford Blue' & ‘Picos Blue’ (sea holly) - Eryngium can be annuals, biennials or perennials with simple or divided leaves, often spiny edged, and cone-like flower-heads often surrounded by an involucre of conspicuous spiny bracts. 'Jos Eijking' is another great Eryringium cultivar with intensely blue stems and flowers.

Rosa rugose (Japanese rose) - Rugosa roses are upright shrubs with very prickly stems bearing handsome, glossy, wrinkled foliage and fragrant, single or semi-double flowers in summer and autumn, often followed by large, tomato-like red hips.

Rubus cockburnianus (white-stemmed bramble) - Rubus is a thicket-forming shrub which has arching prickly shoots with a brilliant white bloom in winter. Pinnate leaves 20cm long with lance-shaped leaflets are dark green above and white-hairy beneath. Racemes of saucer-shaped purple flowers 1cm across are followed by rounded unpalatable black fruits.

Colletia paradoxa (anchor plant) - Colletia is a rounded deciduous shrub to 3m, with stems bearing many blue-green, flattened, triangular spines and small clusters of fragrant white flowers in autumn.

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) - Berberis can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs with spiny shoots bearing simple, often spine-toothed leaves, and small yellow or orange flowers in axillary clusters or racemes, followed by small berries.

Mahonia × media 'Lionel Fortescue' (Oregon grape) - Mahonia are evergreen shrubs with leathery, pinnate leaves which are often spine-toothed, and clustered racemes of sometimes fragrant yellow flowers, sometimes followed by black or purple berries.

Berkheya purpurea (purple berkheya) - Berkheya can be shrubs, or perennials, with spiny, pinnately divided leaves and yellow, purple or white daisy-like flower-heads in summer.

Pyracantha 'Orange Glow' (firethorn) - Pyracantha are evergreen shrubs or small trees, with spiny branches bearing simple leaves and corymbs of small white flowers followed by showy red, orange or yellow berries.

Ilex aquifolium (common holly) - Ilex can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs and trees with often spiny leaves, small white flowers (male and female usually on separate plants) and, on female plants, showy berries in autumn.

Gunnera manicata (giant rhubarb) - Gunnera may be evergreen or herbaceous rhizomatous perennials, and range from small creeping plants to very large with huge leaves. The flowers are small, borne in narrow panicles or spikes and may be followed by small berry-like fruits.

Other plants include:

Juniperis horizontalis 'Wiltonii' - Creeping Juniper
Picea pungens 'Globosa' - Blue Spruce
Crataegus monogyna – common hawthorn
Prunus spinose – blackthorn
Ribes speciosum - Fuschia-flowered Gooseberry
Yucca aloifolia - Yucca
Hippophae - sea buckthorn
Chamaerops humilis - dwarf fan palm
Agave ovatifolia - oval-leaved agave