Whilst most of us realise that the days of nipping to the shop and leaving your front door unlocked while you do so are long gone, and take sensible precautions to ensure the security of our homes, not everyone realises that with a little defensive planting and thought to layouts the garden can become a beautiful yet effective theft-deterrent.

There is more to defensive gardening then screwing a few 1000 watt motion sensitive lights to the outside of your home, it is all about the general upkeep of your property, types of plants used, basic garden layout – even down to the placement of your water feature.

The most obvious places to start when looking to secure your home and garden is to ensure that all gates, fences and walls are in good repair. If you don’t have fences or walls, look at planting a good dense hedge. Any garden centre will have a nice range of plants that would be suitable. A good choice is the Hawthorn (Crataegus Monogyna) which as well as being dense and spiky, is also wildlife friendly and will grow happily in partial shade. A good tip if you are starting your hedge from young plants is to keep “nipping” out the young top growth, thereby forcing it to bush out from low down instead of getting “lanky” and leaving that all too familiar 2ft gap at ground level.

Plants also work well not just as a boundary but also under windows, up drainpipes or around sheds as a prickly deterrent. Thieves know that with the technology available to police today, the smallest shred of cloth or tinest amount of blood will be enough to help identify them. Just think carefully about how you position plants around your front door as you don’t want to create places someone could hide and wait for you to return home.

Remember to put away any expensive looking garden furniture and equipment where possible, if it is too big to be stored locked away – make sure you have marked it clearly.

Sheds aren’t really designed to be secure, and shouldn’t be used to store valuable items unless proper precautions are taken. Again, make sure that it is keep in good repair, fit some sort of mesh or grilles to any windows, use a closed shackle padlock for the door and try and get a shed where the fittings are bolted through the door and the screws are concealed. Also invest in an alarm.

Another thing to bear in mind – where possible – secure large items together, preferably with chain. This makes them less desirable to a thief, as they are heavy, bulky and harder to carry. Any ladders should also be secured so that they cannot be used to gain access to the upper floors of your home (or someone else’s).

Light and noise, two things a potential thief does not want are easy to install into your gardening. When people talk about security lights, most think of the motion sensitive 1000watt lights that illuminate for miles around. Instead you might want to consider going for something softer – low level lighting at ground level is far more effective at removing shadows where people could hide and cheaper to run as well as less likely to annoy the neighbours during heavy winds.

Gravel paths, as well as being decorative, make a nice deterrent when used on the approaches to the home – thieves do not like to be heard, so nice crunchy paths that give away their presence work well.

Another garden feature that many don’t realise the potential of, is the water feature. As well as enhancing your pleasure in your garden, and providing a drinking source for wildlife – placed correctly it can help defend vulnerable areas. Imagine the surprise someone would get clambering over your wall to end up knee deep in water when they jump off the top…

These tips hopefully show how a little defensive gardening know how you can easily turn your garden into a place thieves will not enjoy, without ruining your own pleasure of it. No need for razor wire, or broken glass when you let nature do the work for you.