Defensive Gardening  


Most gardeners have some sort of a pest problem from time to time.  It can be difficult to keep unwanted guests out of your garden.  So most people don’t think about gardening as a way to keep would-be-burglars out of their home.  With proper plant selection and placement, you can greatly increase the security of your home while increasing the beauty of your yard.  Here are a few examples of plants that can be used effectively as a means of defense.



As the name suggests, you don’t want to get stuck by this plant which is covered in thorns.  But while firethorn is one plant you don’t want to touch, or attempt to climb over or through, this evergreen shrub can looks good all year when kept tidy and produces flowers that vary in size and color depending on the variety.  Firethorn would make a great supplement to existing walls, or even as a stand-alone border.


For those that live in warmer zones, this plant thrives on heat and is drought tolerant.  Bougainvillea can climb, or be hedged into a shrub that can grow as high as you let it, up to 40 feet.  It has long, painful thorns all over the plant that only get more effective as the thorns age and contain a skin toxin that produces a rash.  Bougainvillea produces a beautiful and unique flower that has paper like petals, they come in nearly any color imaginable, from near white pink to burgundy.  Bougainvillea can be used as a border or as a climber on fences or awnings.


Roses are a great plant to put under a window to prevent break-ins, they are covered in fragrant flowers in the summer when you are more likely to have your windows open, and thorns all year long.  But not all roses have the same level of protection in their thorns.  The Voodoo rose is known for being particularly menacing.


Remember that while these plants can be used as an effective deterrent, they should not be allowed to grow more than 4 feet high near the home, especially near the front door where they could provide concealment for an intruder that is waiting of you.  These plants aren’t concerned with who they injure either, make sure that you wear long sleeves, long pants, and leather gloves while working with them, and if you are using a power hedger wear a face shield.  I got a piece of Bougainvillea in my nose before because I thought eye protection was enough, it was not pleasant.

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