Plants to Deter Burglars

 In Gardening tips, Shrubs, Trees and Shrubs

Plants to Deter Burglars in the Garden

There has been a spate of burglaries recently and the usual powered garden equipment has been the prime target.

It makes sense to lock this sort of stuff up and out of sight. But there are other things that you can do to deter these intruders from entering your garden.

Against this worrying trend I recommend a green way to reduce the problem! By  growing the right garden plants you can deter burglars!

Given a choice between forcing my way through a thick hedge of prickly plants and going to another garden that has none, I know which one I would choose!

Many years ago we planted up some demonstration hedges at the nursery we used to own.

We did it for Avon and Somerset Constabulary. They borrowed these trough-grown shrubs to use as part of their garden security campaign.

These shrubs were mostly prickly or even down-right thorny!

This group of garden plants to deter burglars are still going strong! They are well established in our old garden centre at Cleeve.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary have some more advice on garden security here.



Varieties to deter burglars with garden plants

  • The Berberis tribe have fierce thorns and some varieties make especially dense and yet attractive hedges.

Some Berberis are evergreen but many lose their leaves in winter.

The latter group often put on a spectacular show of autumn leaf colour and become fiery red, orange and yellow.

The fruits although small, can be red or occasionally blue. These fruits are popular with garden birds but the spring flowers attract masses of bees with their sweet scent.

  • Pyracantha, sometimes referred to as Firethorn, is evergreen and so will provide privacy as well as security.
Plants to deter burglars, pyracantha, firethorn

Pyracantha ‘Red Column’ hedge

Firethorn is fast growing and with regular clipping grows into an impenetrable hedge. This takes just a couple of growing seasons.

Like Berberis, the flowers are popular with insects and this time the scent is heavy and less sweet.

But the fruits are the main decorative feature. These can sustain larger garden birds right through to the end of winter.

Fruit colours range from deepest red, warm orange to yellow and are a very showy winter feature!

If you want a quick result then look no further than this good garden plant to deter burglars!


holly, ilex, variegated holly,

Variegated prickly holly hedge


  • Holly, once established, grows into a superb dense and prickly hedge!

Holly is slow growing but for that reason will require less pruning when fully grown.

It also tolerates and perhaps even thrives in shade.

So this might be the best choice for planting in the shade of your house or under large trees.

There are both male and female varieties of holly and many variegated kinds too.

The variegated sort are slower growing than green leaf types. If clipped regularly none of these are likely to produce many berries for you. Although if they do they are great to decorate your home! Berries tend to be produced on newer shoot tips.


Go Native

If you fancy going native then hawthorn and blackthorn are excellent prickly hedge species.

Hawthorn grows faster than blackthorn but the latter has the fiercest thorns.

These two should be planted during the winter months as bare rooted seedlings. They will also be at the cheapest end of plant choices.

Blackthorn is very early flowering with dainty white blooms seen in February. But hawthorn [‘may blossom’] flowers later and after leaf break.

Both are good sources of nectar for insects.

In spite of regular pruning blackthorn will eventually produce sloe berries for you to make that superb winter hip flask filler – sloe gin!

I’ve written about planting native hedges here.


How about a rose?

a rose hedge

Rose ‘Mayflower’ hedge

Some varieties and species of rose will grow into good prickly hedges.

Most remain rather loose and are better planted as an informal screen.

Rosa rugosa and its many varieties can grow into a thick medium height hedge.

If the plants are on their own roots – that is not budded or grafted onto a root stock – they will form a thicket.

Suckers from these will be the same variety as the top and should be encouraged.

However the downside of this type of rose on its own roots is that those suckers don’t always stay close to the mother plant. Sadly they can invade the garden! Nevertheless, they are easily dug out.



Ornamental Brambles

The bramble family [Rubus] has many species that you would not want in your garden since they spread and can be a menace.

Rubus, bramble

Rubus cockburnianus

But there are some ornamental brambles of merit that will deter the burglars.

No-one in their right mind will try to push their way through Rubus thibetanus or Rubus cockburnianus!

These are vigorous and spectacular brambles!

Best planted as a barrier rather than as a clipped hedge, these are covered in hooked thorns that you definitely don’t want to mess with!

Both species look particularly good in the garden in winter since their stems are ghostly white and fully revealed after leaf fall.

There is a selection of Rubus cockburnianus that has these attractively coloured winter stems but also has golden yellow leaves all summer long. This is called ‘Golden Vale’ and is well worth planting.


When and how to plant

a man planting a hedge, plants to deter burglars

Pot grown Pyracantha planting

Winter is the best time to plant all these but, since many are pot grown, they can be planted at other times of the year.

For a hedge space plants about 60 cms apart. But if the plants are small consider planting a double row of plants. And plant about the same distance apart too!

If planting a screen then plants can be spaced 1-2 metres apart.


Looking after your Plants to Deter Burglars

Plants establish best if soaked in water before planting.

However, it is no good expecting them to flourish if you haven’t prepared the garden first!

Removed perennial weeds and dig the soil to a full spade depth first.

Add fertiliser to the planting with hole and don’t forget to feed your plants every spring until they are well established.

I particularly recommend using Vitax Q4+ slow release fertiliser. This contains all the food that a plant needs but also root friendly mycorrhizae. This will make a big difference to establishment and to subsequent vigour.

I explain fungi symbiosis and the benefit of mycorrhizae here.

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