Defensive Gardening

Plants to deter burglars

Selecting the right plants can help to protect your home by deterring burglars.

The police recommend planting spiky or prickly plants in hedges, along paths and beneath windows that burglars might see as attractive entry points to your home.

The best plants for defensive gardening include:

  • Plants with irritating hairs, such as Giant Rhubarb.
  • Plants with spines or prickles, such as roses and holly.

If you have pets or small children, do consider how planting the species listed below might impact on them and think carefully about positioning, A spiky leaf or stem sticking into a paw or tiny foot may be extremely painful as well as causing physical harm.

Recommended defensive species include:

Creeping Juniper – Juniperis horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’ – often known as ‘Blue Rug’ because of its prostrate growing habit. It has a thorny stem and foliage.

Common Holly – Ilex aquilfolium – Dark green spiky leaves make this a good choice for deterrent hedges.

Giant Rhubarb – Gunnera manicata – Large leaves with abrasive foliage mean that this is unpleasant to brush against.

Chinese Jujube – Zizyphus sativa – Medium sized tree with spiny, weeping branches.

Firethorn – Pyracantha ‘Orange Glow’ – often quite low growing with fierce thorns along its stem.

Rose – Rosa – almost all roses have spiky or prickly stems whilst carrying beautiful flowers, making them good to position beneath windows.

Spruce – Picea – including both tiny and very large species, there is a picea to suit almost every garden. Needle-shaped leaves and rigid branches make them a good deterrent.

Juniper – Juniperus x media ‘Old Gold’ – low growing, with prickly foliage.

Purple Berberis – Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’- the thorny stems of this attractive shrub makes it both an attractive and practical addition to any border.

Oleaster – Elaeagnus angustifolia – an attractive small tree with spiny stems. Very hardy, so a good choice for hedging on an exposed site.

Blackthorn – Prunus spinosa – common name Slo. Has fierce spines that provide a very effective deterrent.

Fuschia-flowered Gooseberry – Ribes speciosum – a spinyornamental bush that can create impenetrable protection, as well as carrying attractive clusters of flowers.

Japanese angelica tree – Aralia elata – attractive shrub or small tree with sturdy, spiky stems.

Anchor plant – Colletia paradoxa – a pretty little deciduous shrub with clusters of white flowers, and spiny stems.

Hawthorn – Crataegus – a popular hedge plant that can also be grown as a tree. Branches are covered sturdy stems and bear pretty white flowers in spring.

Sea buckthorn – Hippophae rhamnoides – a large deciduous bush carrying attractive orange berries and spiny shoots.

Osage orange – Maclura pomifera – grown as a small deciduous tree or large shrub with spiny stems and pale orange-yellow fruit.

Mahonia – large evergreen shrub with stiff, spiny leaflets. Popular for the large, vertical clusters of winter flowers that are characteristic of this species.

Oplopanax – small deciduous shrubs that are densely packed with spikes.

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