What with lawnmowers, children’s toys, garden furniture, plants and tools, the contents of the average British garden amounts to nearly £2000. This means good garden security is as important as ever. This guide will outline the precautions you should take in order to deter any intruders, ensuring your security and peace of mind.
First and foremost, strong defensive boundaries surrounding your plot are essential. You may opt for fencing, or defensive shrubbery, or a mixture of both to protect your garden from intruders. Anything higher than 2m will likely require planning permission, but you can check this with your local planning officer. And, if you live in a conservation area, there may be further restrictions, so make sure to do your research before building anything dramatic.
You can add height to existing fences by fixing trellis to the top. This is difficult to climb over and will break noisily, hopefully alerting you to the presence of any potential thieves. Make sure that any further measures you take comply with the law, as intruders may take legal action against the homeowner if they are seriously injured by forbidden restrictions, such as barbed wire.
Using prickly plants (such as firethorn, climbing rose or hawthorn) to grow hedges is another good idea, as they are harder and more painful to climb than fences, and very difficult to knock down. Thorny shrubs may also come in useful under windows or surrounding drain pipes, restricting access to your house. However, always ensure that you clip back foliage so you can see clearly into your garden at all times, making it easier to spot any intruders.
All access points to your house should have a strong gate which matches the same height as your fence. It is recommended that your gate should have two locks (one at the bottom and one at the top), with strong hinges securely attached to the gateposts.
Using gravel for any drives and pathways leading up to gates is another good precaution, as any intruders will make a noisy entrance.
Everything you have used during the day in the garden (such as lawn mowers, bikes and tools) should be locked away at night. You don’t want them to be stolen, or used to smash windows and gain entry into your house.
If your shed has a window, try and keep all valuables (e.g. tools) out of sight. You may also want to consider barring any windows, or investing in a strong lockable cage or box for your tools, for extra security.
Look after your shed! During the winter they are exposed to the elements, so every spring you should check for any structural weaknesses and make any necessary repairs.
Alarming your shed will add further security. If you don’t have access to the mains power from your garden, there are many battery powered options out there.
You should look to keep furniture a sufficient distance away from the windows of your house, so burglars cannot use them as a way in.
You might want to consider anchoring your furniture to the ground using chains, all by ensuring it will not be taken,
Police advise that you mark valuable items with your postcode and house number, making it easier to reunite victims of burglary with their stolen possessions. This can be painted on, but etching is the most effective. Try and make this visible in a way that won’t ruin the appearance of your furniture, as branding will likely act to deter burglars. Electronic tagging systems are also available, if you prefer.
You may also want to take photos of your garden valuables. If anything is stolen or vandalised, this will be a great help to the police and your insurer.
You should look into getting motion-triggered lighting if you haven’t already, as this will alert you to any intruders. When positioning lighting, be considerate and keep road users and your neighbours in mind - you don’t want to be distracting or a nuisance.
Generally, your home insurance policy will only offer limited cover for the contents of your garden. Often plants and other stylistic garden features (e.g. statues) are not accounted for. If you have a lot of valuables in your garden you may wish to consult an insurance broker who should be able to guide you towards specific garden insurance products. If your garden contains some items of a high-value, such as antique statues or fountains, you should look into specialist ‘high net worth’ policies to get these covered in case of burglary.