At the front
Create a boundary at the front of your home with a low wall or fence, or by planting prickly or barbed shrubbery, such as holly, firethorn or hawthorn, if you’re able to maintain them. You could also plant low-growing thorny shrubs below windows and drainpipes.
Always keep your front gate closed – consider fitting a gate spring – and keep fences and walls in good repair. If your back garden has an access gate, keep it padlocked and make sure the gate can’t just be lifted off its hinges. You could consider using gravel driveways and paths, so you can hear anyone approach.
Keep the view into your front garden clear so any potential intruders are visible. Cut back any overhanging branches or foliage. Boundary fences, walls, shrubs and bushes should be no more than about 1m (3 ft) high. You may need planning permission to make changes to a fence, wall or gate. Contact your local council’s planning department to find out.
If you need help with your garden, see our guide Getting help at home.
At the side and rear
You need a taller boundary at the side and rear of your property to prevent access. Around 2m (or 6 ft) is recommended, although you may need planning permission from your local planning authority if you want to install a fence taller than 2m. A trellis topping makes fencing harder to climb and you could also grow thorny climbers such as roses.
If you install a security topping such as plastic spikes, you must display a warning sign to say that it’s been fitted. There are some rules about when security toppings (except plants) can be used, so check with your local council’s planning department if you’re thinking about adding one to a wall or fence.
Keep your garden tidy
Sheds are often targeted by burglars. It’s common for garden tools to be stolen or used to break in. Keep them locked in sheds and gardens, and ask your neighbours not to leave tools out either. Don’t leave rubbish, ladders, wheelie bins or anything else lying around that could be used for burglary or vandalism.
Valuable plants and ornaments can be secured by using chains and ground anchors. Bolt or weigh down planters and use lockable brackets for hanging baskets. Garden plants, furniture and tools can be worth a lot of money, so check your insurance policy to make sure it covers your garden.
Burglar alarms can be a very effective deterrent. There are many different types and costs vary, so get advice before you buy. You’ll need to decide whether you want a system that just sounds an alarm or one that contacts you, nominated friends or family, or a security company when it’s triggered.
Don’t be tempted to use a dummy alarm – they’re easy to spot – and never buy from cold callers or telesales enquirers. You should get at least three quotes from an accredited company.
Your local police Safer Neighbourhood Team or Crime Prevention Officer may be able to advise you. You could also speak to your insurance company. Your local Home Improvement Agency may be able to help you install one.
Home CCTV is becoming more affordable and it’s possible to buy relatively cheap cameras. But you also need to factor in the cost for recording equipment, installation and maintenance, and you’ll have to pay more if you want high-quality images. Motion detection cameras can cut down on the amount of footage you record.
You can get indoor or outdoor CCTV. Some CCTV systems notify you when they’ve been activated and you can view the images via a smartphone, tablet or computer.
If your camera is outside, you must comply with data protection and privacy laws and make sure your camera isn’t pointing at public spaces or other people’s houses or gardens. You can get more information from the Information Commissioners Office.
You need to position cameras so they can be easily maintained but can’t be tampered with. Everyone has a different living situation, so you should consider the vulnerable points of your own home. In general, useful places to position cameras include your front door, back and side doors, any off-street windows and your garage.
CCTV tends to work best when used with other deterrents, such as good quality locks, burglar alarms and security lights.
For crime prevention advice, contact your local police Safer Neighbourhood Team or Crime Prevention Officer by calling 101 or go to Police.uk.
If you think you need planning permission to make changes to your existing garden, or to add a new fence, check with your local planning authority.
The Royal Horticultural Society also has some useful information on how to increase the security of your garden.