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Crime Fighting with Trees and Plants

Trees, foliage and flowers not only provide a better quality of life and aesthetic enjoyment, but researchers and crime fighting organizations are finding that, with a little planning, landscapingcan deter criminals and can make your home more secure.
A new study published in the journal Environment and Behavior suggests that certain types of trees had a greater impact in preventing crime. Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest (PNW) and Southern Research Stations compiled more than two dozen variables including the number and size of the trees. They discovered that areas with large trees had lower crime rates, possibly because they were less obstructive than small trees. Smaller trees might block some views or be a cover for criminal activity.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa wrote in the journal Landscape that environmental design incorporating defensive plants can limit or deter unwanted intruders.
"Prickly bushes used as hedges or at strategic locations make access more difficult for intruders and help make a place look less attractive to a potential intruder.” Security plants are defined by their thorns, spines, teeth-like leaf edges and bulk and density. A good place to plant thorny shrubs is under window sills, by drainpipes and around sentryways.
An overall landscape design incorporating different trees, shrubs and plants can be both beautiful and practical. The American  CrimePrevention Institute, a division of Aegis Protection Group, Inc. offers these guidelines:

•   Trees should not offer climbing access to the upper levels of homes or buildings. The foliage should not obscure the roadway, walkway or lighting for the parking lot. Keep lowest foliage at least 7 ft. from the ground.
•   Landscaping rock should be small or use gravel under windows and near entryways. This will create noise when stepped on.
•   Barrier plants like Pyracantha, Barberry, Natal Plum, Yucca, Hedgehog, and Porcupine Holly have needles or thorns and are often dense. These are useful below and near windows to discourage break-ins.
•  Shrubbery can be used from 6 ft. to 12 ft. from parking areas and pedestrian walkways. Shrubbery should not be above 3 ft. high.
•  Groundcover plants up to 2 ft. high, including flowering plants, can be used within 6 ft. of walkways and parking areas.

Other studies have shown that well-kept neighborhoods are a deterrent as these are thought to have more security and a closer-knit community.

Published: February 23, 2013
Issue: Winter 2013 Issue


our organization would like to submit press releases to Chicago Life. Who would we send them to and what is their email address? Thanks, Mary /mary@franoutreach.org
Mary, Sep-13-2019