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Garden security guide

The guide to garden security

Your garden might be a soft target for thieves. These tips will show you how to maximise your garden security

By Tim Henning

Published: 10 May 2021

girl playing in garden, shed in background

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It’s usually a lot easier for thieves to target your garden than break into your home.

Taking steps to secure your garden can help to prevent the theft of valuable items such as high-end barbeques, expensive ornaments and gardening equipment – and reduce your garden insurance premiums accordingly.

What attracts thieves to gardens?

Those looking to steal valuable items from your garden may either have planned it in advance, or they may spot an opportunity as they pass by. 

Items that that often attract thieves are usually:

  • Eye catching
  • Look to be of high value
  • Easy to steal
  • Left unattended 

Bicycles, lawnmowers and other garden tools tend to be among the most common items stolen from gardens.

How can I secure my garden?

Good garden security involves five main elements:

  • Fencing: The right height and type of fencing not only marks your boundary but is a deterrent for thieves and can stop prying eyes
  • Locks: A robust lock can be an additional barrier against theft
  • Lights: These can put a spotlight on a potential theft and scare away potential thieves
  • Marking your items: This helps with recovery of stolen property, so your items have a higher chance of being returned
  • Tidiness/storage: Staying diligent and locking items away rather than leaving them out and unchecked will reduce the chances of a crime
  • Additional security: Consider the benefits and cost of CCTV and/or alarms

What boundaries and access should I have for my garden? 

While it’s probably not preferable to completely lock down your garden, how your property is laid out can prove a deterrent for thieves.

The Metropolitan Police suggest the following measures to increase safety.

  • Have a low front boundary (hedges and walls) at around 1m so burglars have nowhere to hide.
  • Keep side gates locked so thieves can’t sneak around the side of the property and avoid being seen 
  • Consider high side and rear boundaries with trellis and spiky defensive planting
  • Gravel driveways and paths make it audibly harder for burglars to go undetected
  • Security lights can detect anyone approaching the property after dark

What height fence should I put up around my garden? 

From a security point of view, lower – up to 1m – fencing can be a better option at the front of your house, as it will look less suspicious to passers-by.

At the back, a standard 1.8m wall or fence should offer sufficient protection against people who want to get in. If there is public access on the other side, however, you may want to consider increasing the height to 2m.

Anything higher usually requires planning permission. You can legally boost the perimeter fence with a trellis fixed to the top, which is difficult to climb over. 

What are the best plants to use as garden security borders?

Planting prickly plants at the edge of your garden and close to one another to minimise the gaps can also be a deterrent against burglars. These could include:

  • Aralia
  • Chaenomeles
  • Colletia
  • Elaeagnus
  • Forget
  • Ligustrum (privet)
  • Oplopanax
  • Pyracantha
  • Ribes
  • Smilax

What locks should I use on my garden?

If you can access your garden from the side or back of the house, you need a strong, lockable gate.

Garden gates should be at least the same height as the fence, with the hinges securely attached to the gateposts.

The best type of padlock to use is a straight shackle or shutter padlock, which is the hardest type for thieves to cut through.

Should I put lights up in my garden?

Don't forget the lighting for your garden, especially in areas near doors and windows. Choose lights that can either be triggered by movement, or triggered by light so that they come on automatically from dusk to dawn.

How do I keep my garden shed secure?

Firstly, consider the position of the shed. It’s ideal to be out of sight of potential thieves, but clearly visible from your property’s windows. Make sure it is anchored to prevent it from being lifted to gain access.

Always keep your shed locked and secured. Most wooden sheds come with either a ‘hasp and staple’ or a ‘tower bolt’ locking mechanism – both will hold the door closed, but need to be paired with a padlock to lock the shed.

However, if the closing mechanism is only attached by wood screws then it doesn’t matter how good your padlock is because the thief only needs to ease out the screws, or rip the mechanism free with a crowbar.

Instead, look for carriage or coach bolts which are secured with a nut and washer on the inside of the shed.

As for the lock itself, there are many different kinds, from simple padlocks to locking bolts and combination locks. 

Things to look for when buying a lock include the materials used, ease of installation, level of protection provided and suitability for different types of doors. A shrouded shackle may be more difficult for a thief to crop through.

How do I protect my garden furniture from thieves?

Police suggest you mark valuable garden furniture and ornaments with your postcode, followed by your house number – either painted or etched onto it.

Try to make it easy for burglars to spot, as this will make your belongings less appealing.

If they are stolen, there is more chance of you being reunited with your possessions if you mark them.

Invest in storage and keep it tidy

Don't tempt thieves by leaving your valuable possessions lying around on display in your garden. Garden tools, children's toys, paddling pools, lawn mowers and bikes should all be stored inside the house, a locked shed or your garage at the end of the day.

Bulky items such as large gas barbecues or furniture should meanwhile be covered up.

Place garden furniture and wheelie bins away from the house so they can’t be used to access upstairs windows. Never leave a ladder in your garden, as thieves can use it to access higher windows.

Should I get an alarm and CCTV?

If you’re thinking about tech to protect your garden from theft, then you have several options. While both an alarm and CCTV (and even a fake CCTV camera) can all be deterrents, captured CCTV footage can be used to try and identify thieves after the event. 

If you’re thinking of using CCTV, you need to make sure you respect other people’s privacy. If you set up your system so it captures only images within the boundary of your garden, then data protection laws will not apply.

However, if your CCTV captures images beyond your property boundary, such as your neighbours’ property or public footpaths, it’s subject to the data protection laws. 

These include putting up signs saying recording is happening, only retaining the footage for a limited period, and deleting footage of people if they ask you to.

You also need to decide whether you want the CCTV to be visible to ward off potential thieves, or hidden, so that it captures them unawares.

Alarms can take on several forms, including motion sensor sounds and spotlight activation, infra-red barrier beams – laser trip wires – that follow the perimeter of your property, and pressure sensors. Prices can vary from under £100 to in the thousands for high-tech systems.

Are items in the garden covered by my home insurance?

Not all home insurance policies cover the cost of replacing your garden furniture and equipment as standard.

To protect items you leave outside from thieves, you may need garden insurance. It’s a specialist type of cover that you can take out alongside home insurance.

Compare garden insurance policies

You can protect your garden and outdoor possessions by comparing home insurance policies with MoneySuperMarket, or by taking out specialist garden insurance.

Just tell us a bit about you and your home, and we’ll show you a range of policies that meet your needs. Then all you have to do is click on the policy that provides the level of cover you need at the best price.

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