When we hear about crimes against residences in our city we often wonder “what can I do to protect my home?” One way is by using the right landscaping. You might not think landscaping would have much to do with preventing property crimes but thoughtful landscape design can be a great strategy.
The use of landscaping to prevent crime is one of the strategies promoted by CPTED, or Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The term CPTED was first used in 1971 by C. Ray Jeffrey, a criminologist fromFloridaStateUniversity, when he published a book titled “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design”.
CPTED has strategies for building design as well as the use of landscaping. The cost of redesigning the way a home is built is prohibitive for most people; however, it is fairly affordable to make changes to landscaping. Landscaping can serve many functions around the home. It can mark the transition from public space to private space such as with a lawn or short shrubs. It can also be a physical barrier. Dense bushes can be used at the property line to prevent intrusion from outside the property. Keep in mind that dense bushes and shrubs will also block your view of those areas immediately outside your property so you must determine which need is the most important. If you have valuable items in your back yard, such as an expensive grill that can be wheeled away, it may be desirable to have bushes that prevent your backyard from being seen from outside the property.
Another way to increase security is by using “defensible” plants around windows. Defensible plants are those which are thorny. This includes many varieties of shrubs and bushes. Plants placed under windows should be trimmed frequently to provide a good view out of the window and to maintain a well kept appearance.
A well maintained property is a less desirable target for crime. Homes that have dead grass or very overgrown trees and bushes are more likely to be targeted for various crimes. A criminal may assume a homeowner who does not care enough to maintain their landscaping also does not care enough to have adequate security.
If you have a 2 story house, any trees should be trimmed to a minimum of 6 feet from the house to prevent them from being used as a natural ladder to access the 2nd story. Too much shade can provide hiding spots for criminals. Balance the amount of shade your trees provide by keeping them properly trimmed.
It’s great how much some small changes to your landscaping can improve the security of your home. The Temecula Police Department, Crime Prevention Unit can assist you in determining how to design your landscaping. To make an appointment, please call (951) 506-5132.
Community Service Officer John Thomas is a long time resident of Temecula and is a Crime Prevention Officer with the Temecula Police Department Crime Prevention Unit. He can be reached at (951) 506-5132.