Originally Published: June 12, 2010 9:56 p.m.
As the weather gets warmer and you work on your landscaping, consider these ideas to increase your home's security through plant choice, yard maintenance and lighting options.
Keep trees and shrubs trimmed so that windows and doors remain visible to neighbors and from the street, said Traces Gordon, Prescott Police Department crime prevention specialist.
"This eliminates places for thieves to hide or provide cover as they break into your home," Gordon said.
Trim trees so that no limbs are below 6 feet to keep thieves from using them as a ladder to enter through upper-level windows or porches, Gordon said.
"Consider placing large gravel under ground-level windows so you can hear the noise of people walking up to your home," Gordon suggested.
Plant hostile vegetation with spines, thorns or sharp leaves under windows to discourage thieves from trying to enter through them, Gordon said.
Roses, barberry, cacti, yucca, desert spoon, agave and pyracantha are some examples of hostile vegetation that grow well in our area, look good and provide extra protection under windows, said Ken Lain, owner of Watters Garden Center.
Instead of planting large trees or shrubs near the street to prevent people from walking on your property, use many smaller shrubs like roses, juniper, holly, rosemary, mugho pine or other hostile vegetation to create visual barriers to your property, Lain said.
Plants like rosemary also work as a deterrent by leaving their strong scent on the clothes of people who brush against them, Lain said.
"Consider planting sedum near natural footpaths, because footprints remain after people walk over it," Lain said.
Plants that stain a person's shoes when walked on will also help police identify someone who walked through it, Lain said.
"These plants are easy to care for in your landscape, especially if you use a drip system," Lain said.
Lain discourages people from planting large red-tipped photinias or cotoneasters near their homes because they shadow the house and provide areas for thieves to hide in.
Also, keep your front yard well-maintained and remove weeds, because unkempt landscaping sends thieves a signal that you are out of town, Gordon said.
Another key component of crime prevention through environmental design is lighting, Gordon said.
Gordon suggests talking to a lighting expert at a home improvement store about installing motion detector lighting around the perimeter of your home and especially in your backyard.
"If a thief steps near your home, you and your neighbors will see that bright light go on immediately," Gordon said. "That will make most thieves look for an easier target."
Instead of using solar lights, which don't put out enough light, consider lighting trees, dark corners or other landscaping features with low-voltage or LED lights, Gordon suggested.
"Make sure the light is appropriate for the area," Gordon said. "Be careful you don't cast shadows that conceal people."
Always remember to keep doors, windows and gates to your yard locked, Gordon said.
Keep ladders, stepstools or other tools thieves could use to break into your home stored securely in a locked garage or shed, Gordon suggested.