Five steps to keeping your garden safe

Most of us have gardens. Before you step outside, it's worth considering protecting any precious possessions that are kept outside. And when 60 per cent of burglaries happen through the rear or side windows and doors, making your garden secure will help keep thieves out of your house. Here are some top tips for guarding your garden.

1. The basics

Just because it's a garden doesn't mean that it doesn't need protecting. So it's worth remembering some basics: Fences should be kept in good condition. If they are falling down or there are holes then a burglar can get past it. Garages and sheds should have locks on their doors, which should be locked at all times. A heavy duty padlock, hasp and staple would be ideal, and a mortise lock for garages are a solid investment. Out of sight is out of mind: many thieves are opportunists so keep your valuables locked away.

2. Back to nature

Your garden can do the work for you. Hedges, prickly bushes and dense plants can stop intruders getting into your garden and into your property. They may be all the protection your garden needs. You could try one of these:

  • Holly – only the most determined intruder will want to clamber over its spikes.
  • Prickly bushes - Try the shrub Rose Rosa for its excellent ground cover and extremely thorny stem.
  • Hedges can be the perfect fences - Blackthorn is a good one – it is very dense and can grow over three metres.

But be warned, don't let your garden grow too high outside the front – if a hedge is over three feet then an intruder can hide behind it.

3. Make an investment

A one-off investment to make your garden more secure can reduce the risk of burglary and is worth considering. Although hooking up CCTV to protect your garden gnomes may seem excessive, there are plenty of other investments that can help. Outside security lighting can be cheap to install and low energy lightbulbs can keep running costs down. Try getting your house alarm extended to cover your shed and garage, or buy a separate alarm for any outside buildings. A gravel driveway or garden path can be just as effective as an alarm by alerting you to the presence of an intruder.

4. Lock it up

Many thieves are opportunists so it's worth keeping your precious possessions under lock and key. If they can be seen then someone could try to steal them. Lock up expensive property such as garden tools, furniture or ornaments. Bring them inside if you don't have a shed or garage. Hide away anything that could be used to break into your house, such as a spade or a heavy ornament. Bikes are especially vulnerable to thieves. Always keep bicycles chained up and locked away in a shed or garage.

5. Protecting property

Property that is kept outside should be protected in just the same way as other household belongings. Mark your belongings with your postmark and house number. There are plenty of ways to do this, engraving is good way of keeping your mark permanent. Photograph your property so that you can provide a good description should anything ever get pinched and help aid identification. Get insurance. If you already have insurance then make sure that it covers belongings in the garden, shed or garage.