Garden theft has increased over the past few years (by 23% according to ONS data) – hardly surprising since we spend so much money on everything from barbecues to furniture and tools to plants. Here’s our checklist of how to protect your garden from opportunistic thieves and intruders, including thorny plants to deter burglars, what you can put on your fence to make it more secure, how to hide your oil tank and how to keep valuables secure.
Remember that most burglars are opportunistic. They do not generally carry tools around with them because being caught with a crowbar or bolt cutter will immediately draw suspicion. This means that a lot of the ways to secure your garden are preventative and often quite simple - keeping gates locked, making fences hard to scale, and keeping anything a criminal can use to cause damage or break hinges or padlocks out of sight and secure, particularly when it comes to tools. If you have a shed full of tools and equipment, read our guide to improving your garden shed security.
Essentially you want to make trespassing in your garden more trouble than it's worth by using these simple garden security ideas. This will help protect valuables such as bicycles and garden furniture, as well as lower-value but easily stolen items like hanging baskets and plant pots.
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How to secure your garden against intruders
Make the boundary more secure
Start with the garden boundary. Dense thorny hedges are seriously unpleasant to push through or climb over. Bushes with vicious thorns include blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), berberis (the hybrid stenophylla is one of the prickliest), holly (Ilex species), pyracantha and gorse (Ulex europaeus).
Make your fence more secure
Make fences harder to climb over by attaching trellis to the top, which won’t hold an intruder’s weight. Use trellis that’s at least 30cm deep and as an extra deterrent grow thorny climbing roses up the fence and trellis – rugosa roses are ideal (they can also be trimmed and grown as a hedge), as are thorny ‘New Dawn’, ‘School Girl’, ‘Iceberg’ and many others.
Instead of attaching trellis to the top of a fence, you could add some posts, run parallel wires between them above the height of the fence and train thorny roses along these.
If you're less concerned about what it looks like you can get fence spikes to attach to the top, and roller rails, which are traditionally sold to deter cats from entering your garden, could also make your fence hard for intruders to get a grip.
Prevent blind spots at the front
Keep front-garden hedges and fences low – 1m is ideal – so that intruders can’t hide behind them.
How to secure side gates and back garden gates
If your back garden has an access gate, keep it padlocked. Use clutch-head screws to attach the hasp and latch, so that thieves can’t simply unscrew them without bothering to remove the padlock. Use clutch-head screws to attach the hinges too, for the same reason. And make sure that the gate can’t simply be lifted off its hinges. You might also want to consider a gate alarm - these are often sold as pool gate alarms. They sound when a gate is opened and you have a limited amount of time to deactivate the alarm. Quality can vary to check reviews before making a purchase.
Path and driveway security
Use gravel for paths and driveways – it’s impossible to sneak about quietly on a gravel driveway path, and this fact alone can be a good deterrent. It's not unusual to see lengths of gravel along the side of a house underneath windows to deter break-ins.
Use technology to deter thieves
Consider installing CCTV – look for systems you can monitor from your mobile.
Motion-sensitive lighting can deter intruders.
Read our guide to buying motion-sensitive security lights.
Keep valuable plants and ornaments secure
Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most commonly stolen garden items are plant pots. Although plant pots are usually low value they can easily be picked up from a doorstep or front garden, and might be too tempting for some opportunistic crooks. Ornaments such as statues and gnomes are also popular targets.
Secure statues, urns and large planters by cementing them in place or by chaining them to an ‘anchor’ – either a wall bolt or one fixed to the ground. Or bolt planters to the ground by fixing coach bolts through the pot’s drainage holes.
Stop thieves making off with expensive trees and shrubs by securing them with a specialist land anchor when you plant them. A low-tech alternative to hang on to newly planted shrubs is to plant them through a layer of chicken wire topped with soil – it makes them harder to dig up or pull out.
Make hanging baskets harder to steal by hanging them on lockable brackets or by threading chain through the basket rim and attaching it to the wall.
Mark valuable planters, urns and statues with your postcode – use a UV pen, paint or even engrave it, on the base, under the rim or somewhere inconspicuous.
Ideas to secure and hide your oil tank
Full oil tanks can be a target for thieves. Keep your tank hidden from opportunistic passers by by hiding it with a woven willow screen, trellis or fence. Plant climbers up it to make it more decorative, if you like.
Reduce the risk of theft from an oil tank for oil-fired central heating by siting the tank where it can be seen from the house - this makes it a considerably less appealing target. Installing a motion-sensitive light near the tank will also deter thieves.
Fit a closed-shackle padlock to the inlet lid – the design is bolt-cutter proof. Add an electronic oil gauge that will trigger an alarm if the oil level in the tank falls rapidly.
As well as providing insurance for your home and its contents, we can also offer extra protection for your shed and gardening equipment. Get a Saga Home Insurance quote now.