Landscaping and Crime Prevention
Now that spring has arrived, many of us will be spending time outside working in the yard. While landscaping and plant growth can contribute to the aesthetics of a private residence, multi-resident unit, private business, or government building, they can also provide hiding places for persons with criminal intent. By choosing suitable plants and appropriate placement, you can have an attractive lawn and also reduce the potential for criminal activity.
The following suggestions will work for large areas around government buildings or businesses and is also applicable to homes on a smaller scale.
Ground cover plants:
Ground cover plants, including perennial and annual plants, can be used within six feet of the edge of walkways and play areas. The height of these plants should not exceed two feet at maturity. Plants with thin stalks that are taller than two feet can be used if they still allow visual surveillance of the area.
Shrubs should be used between six and twelve feet from the edge of walkways requiring visual surveillance. Their height should not exceed three feet at maturity. If they are taller, they should have thin stalks to allow for visual surveillance.
Tree limbs should be pruned to six feet above ground. When planting, consider the location of light poles and fixtures so that illumination will not be blocked at night.
Barrier plants have thorns or needles and a dense structure. They should be used below and to the sides of windows and next to fences and walls where access is not needed or desired.
Bark or wood chip borders between the lawn and the building or residence can be replaced with decorative river rock or gravel. A prowler walking on a rock surface will likely make more noise than he would walking on wood chips, possibly alerting the occupants.
With the appropriate plants and landscaping design, a beautiful lawn can also be made safer for those who enjoy it.