The garden gnome - not universally popular
We know our homes are more than just bricks and mortar, but for 44%*of the over 50s questioned, it’s the garden that's one of the most important features. Indeed, one in eight (13%) said they wouldn't consider moving because of their garden. Nearly half said their garden is where they relax (48%) and a fifth (18%) feel their garden's somewhere to escape from the world.
Unfortunately, our gardens are also attractive to thieves and vandals. One in twelve (8%) over 50s have had items stolen from their garden and Saga Home Insurance’s own claims analysis shows that the average cost to replace stolen or damaged items is £620.
Don't make it easy
Most burglars are lazy. They look for easy ways of getting into a house or garden - broken fences, unlocked sheds and insecure gates. The more they can see, the more they can 'case the joint' so one of the best ways to keep thieves out is a barrier of prickly plants or hedging. There's a wide variety of plants suitable for different sizes and styles of garden but do make sure that hedges and shrubs in the front aren't too high otherwise you'll give a potential burglar a good hiding place.
Barbies and pixies
You can put away tools and equipment and make sure outside sheds and store cupboards are securely locked but garden ornaments and features are more of a challenge. Two thirds** (67%) of all UK adults say they keep items ranging from barbecues and water features to ornamental animals, pixies and gnomes in their garden and this figure increases to 78% for the over 50s. A quarter (24%) of gardeners over 50 say they have over £250 worth of these items alone in their gardens.
Gnomes and gardens
However, the research suggests that some people would not shed a tear over a garden gnome;
22% of people think they are fun but 40% find them tacky.
Women are greater fans of the humble garden gnome (25% compared to 18% of men) and those in the North West and East Midlands are far more likely to own one (11%) than the national average (7%).
People in the North East are twice as likely to have ornamental pixies and elves in their garden (13%) as the rest of the country (6%).
The Welsh are partial to ornamental meerkats in their garden (11%) compared to the national average (4%
Over 50s are much more likely to have ornaments and features (78%) than younger age groups (54%) and their favourites include bird baths (36%), water features (20%), animals (16%) and gnomes and fairies (9%).
People in Yorkshire are four times as likely (13%) to have something stolen from their garden as those in the West Midlands (3%)
Lights, camera, postcode!
Use automatic outdoor security lighting and keep a photographic record of valuable plants, garden features and ornaments.
Where possible, mark your property with your postcode - it makes tracing stolen property and identification much easier.
Check that your household insurance policy covers theft from your garden and outbuildings.
*Research conducted by Populus amongst more than 10,000 over 50s as part of the monthly Saga Populus panel survey during December 2011 and March 2012
** research conducted by YouGov: amongst 2036 adults between 5th -10th April 2012