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How to Add Security Plants to Your Yard

Install a line of defense against intruders with the plants in your yard.

There are all kinds of alarm systems that you can install in your home for security, but did you know that your landscape can help thwart intruders before they even get close to your house?

You may already have a sophisticated security system in your yard and not even know it. If you live in a warm climate for example, citrus makes a great plant for security - take a look at these thorns. There are also a lot of other plants that have this rather pointed type of protection.

Extremely long, sharp thorns can be found on the Washington hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum), which reaches a height of 30 to 40 feet at maturity in a rounded to oval shape. The thorns measure up to three inches long. This defensive tree also displays splendid fall color and colorful red berries that hang on all winter.

The pyracantha is a very good landscape plant that not only boasts great holiday color but it displays sharp barbed leaves.

Most roses also offer a great built-in security system. One of the best places to plant a rose to ward off intruders is under a window.

Consider planting in a raised bed because there are often plenty of power, cable and sewer lines buried along the foundation of a house. (Plus, wet soil against the house can cause dry rot.)

A trellis can allow you to train a climbing rose along the window's edge. When working around a thorny plant, protect your hands and arms with a nylon shell jacket and nitrile gloves. Once planted, give the climbing rose its first meal of one ounce of fish emulsion and one ounce of seaweed mixed in a gallon of water. Lay the drip irrigation line and add mulch.

Consider the location of the climbing rose as well. With a climber, you want height, not width. If it's located along a walkway, prune off any branches that might grow into the walkway. Use garden ties to secure the branches loosely to the trellis. In about two years, the climbing rose should reach the top of the trellis, looking good inside and out.

"But not all rose thorns are created equal," warns master gardener Fred Hoffman. The 'Iceberg' shrub rose is beautiful, but thorny it is not. A better choice is the 'Voodoo' rose, which, according to Hoffman, is more menacing than barbed wire.

Security however, isn't all thorns and prickles; it can also be the edge of a leaf. The Oregon grape holly or Mahonia aquifolium grows upward in a narrow form, perfect for walkways. The spiny teeth around the leaves are a guaranteed hindrance to unwanted hooligans.

When planning for your home security, one of the best defenses can be the eyes and ears of your neighbors. If you have a junglelike yard, your neighbors can't keep an eye on your front door when you're not home. You also want to be able to see out of the windows, and too much vegetation makes that impossible and also provides a space for intruders to hide. Don't get rid of the plants; just thin them out. Also, plant or prune your trees so that the branches don't overhang the roof of your house, which could provide access to an intruder. Several feet of space between the roof and canopy are much safer.

"As you plan the safety and security of your home, don't forget to include the yard and garden," says Hoffman. "Your yard is your first line of defense."

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