Protecting your home and garden
Keeping your garden secure means your garden furniture and other items stay safe. It also means you can deter burglars from getting into your home through your garden.
The diagram below shows some of the key areas to pay attention to.
Cut Your Hedge to Cut Crime
A 1,000 person study commissioned by John Lewis Home Insurance found that two thirds of households are putting their homes at increased risk of burglary through high front hedges, and less than a fifth of households with gardens consider how hedges help prevent burglaries. We’ve teamed up with Crimestoppers to offer tips and advice on how to maximise the security of your front and back gardens.
Over two thirds (67%) of those surveyed admitted that their front hedge exceeds the one metre height recommended by the police and charity Crimestoppers. Nearly one third keep their hedge at double the recommended height, or even higher.
Nearly half (48%) of those asked don’t change the height of their hedge, or keep it at the height that’s practical for them, and one in ten choose the height based on their neighbour’s hedge. One in eight say ‘style’ over safety most influences the height of their front hedge.
Rear garden hedges can also help protect homes but the police advice for them is the opposite of front hedges. You should keep them over 1.8 metres to make it hard for thieves to climb up and over them, yet nearly half of households (48%) surveyed said their rear hedge is 1.5 metres, or lower.
Tips for your hedge:
Front hedges should be kept 1m or lower. This is so that neighbours and other passers by can see if somebody is trying to break into your property. So in front gardens, cut your hedge to cut crime.
Back hedges should be high (1.8m or above). This makes it trickier for potential burglars to enter the property via the back, which is often less visible than the front of the property. It can also make it harder for criminals who have successfully entered the property to use the back garden as an exit route.
Security hedges should be thick and prickly or thorny. A thick hedge stops crooks from breaking through it, with prickles or thorns adding an extra layer of discomfort for anybody who tries to breach it.
There are plenty of hedge species that provide additional security without compromising the appearance of your garden:
Pyracantha, Firethorn - an evergreen, vigorous and thorny plant, as its name suggests.
Holly bush is also a good traditional evergreen whose prickly leaves will ward off intruders.
Rose Glow, which has lovely copper and pink leaves, or Blackthorn, which blossoms in spring.
Walls and fences
Secure walls and fences are one of the best ways to stop would-be thieves from getting into your garden. This is especially true at the back of your garden, where they might feel more confident about going undetected.
If you can, go for solid fences around six foot high and reinforce posts using concrete spurs. To make climbing boundaries difficult, add a small trellis at the top of the fence. A 12- to 18-inch trellis panel will struggle to take the weight of a human and could break under pressure.
Keep walls and fences in your front garden under a metre high. This is to prevent intruders from hiding behind them. Trim plants that overhang windows to give you clear views of anyone trying to hide.
You could also consider planting:
Thorny shrubs at the base of boundaries - such as hawthorn, firethorn and barberry
Climbers, like roses, on walls and fences
Garden gate security
Lock your side and back gates when you’re not using them. To make them even more secure and less attractive to intruders, you could also:
- Use two locks instead of one
- Use stronger locks and padlocks
- Add a latch or bolt to the bottom and top of your gates
- Add lighting overlooking your gates
Check that hinges are fixed properly so that gates can’t be lifted. Additionally, check for any rotting wood or rust on posts and frames that could be easily broken.
Garden pathway security
Gravel flooring is excellent for deterring thieves. This is because the sound of footsteps becomes much louder on loose materials.
It can also alert you if an unexpected car pulls up on the driveway. Adding lighting to garden pathways will also make thieves think twice before they approach your home.
Shed and garage security
Other tips for shed and garage security:
- Fit good quality locks
- Check door hinges regularly for damage
- Use a hasp and padlock for extra protection
- Cover windows to stop thieves peering inside
- Anchor down storage units so they cannot be lifted
- Fit automatic lights pointing toward shed and garage doors
- Install CCTV cameras and an alarm
- Tag your tools, bikes and other items
For help to find your bike if it goes missing, register your bike on The National Cycle Database.
You can also get security marking kits to mark your bike, making it easier to find if it's stolen.
Items in gardens
Sometimes items that should be kept in sheds and garages are left outside with little or no protection. Things like children’s toys and outdoor gym equipment are easier to steal when not safely stored.
Remember to safely store things like ladders. If left out in the garden, these could help thieves gain access to your home.
For outdoor items, such as garden furniture, statues and play equipment, John Lewis Home Contents Insurance pays out:
Up to £2,000 on Bronze cover
Up to £3,000 on Silver cover
Up to £5,000 on Gold cover
Up to £25,000 on Specialist cover
Lighting is great for deterring would-be thieves from getting into your garden.
Try positioning your lights to illuminate:
Doorways on sheds and garages, including gates
Pathways throughout your front and back garden
Patios and decking nearer the home to deter thieves from peering in through windows
Free-standing bollard lights
Spike lights that can be pitched into lawns
In-ground/decking lights and string lanterns
It’s also worth thinking about when and where you want garden lights to switch on. You can choose motion-activated lights or timed smart lights, for example.
You’ll also need to consider your power options:
Solar-powered lights require little maintenance and are environmentally friendly too. However, quality can vary greatly and the light isn’t as bright as other options.
Battery-powered lights are simple to install and usually brighter than solar-powered options. A happy medium if you’re ok with changing flat batteries.
Mains-powered lights are the most powerful and usually used to brighten up large sections of gardens. However, they can be trickier to install.
It’s important to regularly check the locks on your windows and use them. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2019-2020, more than a fifth (22%) of domestic burglaries were via a window. 8% of these were via a window that was left open or pushed open.
In the garden, conservatories are particularly vulnerable. This is especially true if the air vents aren’t properly installed. If you’re unsure about your conservatory’s security, contact a professional right away. For added peace of mind, you can fit an alarm.
CCTV in the garden
CCTV cameras are increasingly affordable and easy to install. They’re especially useful in large gardens or overlooking sheds and garages. The systems can pair with a TV, laptop or smartphone.
Your outdoor cameras should have an IP66 rating or higher to be weatherproof. Some models use night vision and infrared light to capture images in low light. Others use motion detection so they’re not filming hours of inactivity.
Top tips for garden security cameras:
Position the cameras where they can’t be tampered with but within easy reach for maintenance and cleaning.
Point them towards your back and side gates, shed and garage doors and driveways.
Cover the windows at the back of your home to deter thieves from peering in.
Remember, your cameras must not film your neighbour’s property.
John Lewis Finance, John Lewis Home Insurance and John Lewis & Partners are all trading names of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England and Wales (Registered Company Number 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Munich Re Digital Partners Limited, a company authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority to carry on insurance distribution activities.
John Lewis Finance, John Lewis Insurance and John Lewis & Partners are all trading names of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England and Wales (Registered Company Number 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative (Financial Conduct Authority no. 416011) of Covea Insurance plc which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (registration no. 202277). John Lewis Specialist Home Insurance is underwritten by Covea Insurance plc. Registered Office: Norman Place, Reading, Berkshire RG1 8DA. Registered in England and Wales (registration no. 613259).