With half the homes on Cape Cod used as vacation getaways, homeowner's thoughts in the off-season turn to home security. Wired alarm systems are an obvious solution, but short of that, you can keep intruders away by giving them a thorny surprise. Prickly plants placed at the foundation beneath windows are a deterrent to break-ins, according to "defensive gardening" expert Bruce Wegner of California.
The good news is, there are plenty of options on the Cape, chief among them, roses. Shrub and climbing varieties grow abundantly all over Cape Cod and their spectacular summer beauty gives way to an inhospitable mess of thorns in winter. As any gardener can attest, even with protective equipment, it's difficult to escape scratches just thinking about pruning those things.
Here are some other plants to consider in your defensive gardening plan, according to gardeningknowhow.com:
Pyracantha, "Firethorn Bush".
This versatile and very prickly plant grows from 6 to 16 feet tall, depending on the fertility of the soil. Look for a dwarf version to place beneath windows.
Berberis vulgaris, Barberry Bush
See the word "vulgar" in the latin name? That's the kind of language that will come out of your mouth if you have an accidental run-in with barberry. Able to tolerate both sun and shade, this super thorny bush is at home on Cape Cod. The leaves remain red throughout the growing season for constant color from from spring until winter.
Other defensive gardening plants include:
You don't want dense foundation plants to grow too tall, so as to create a hide-out for thieves. Keep your plants trimmed one foot away from the side of the house, and no higher than the window. Plants at the street and along the driveway should be trimmed to no more than five feet tall. Year round Cape Codders are astute observers and will take note of anyone lurking around a property. You'll want to allow a good line of sight from the street and neighboring homes.
Another tactic favored by law enforcement is pebble mulch around foundation plantings. Though not as aesthetically pleasing as wood chips, the sound of footsteps on the stones might catch the ear of someone nearby.
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