Defensive Planting For Home Security

The ever-increasing popularity and sophistication of gardening has not gone unnoticed by the criminal world in Ireland. Garden crime is a reality, with over 2 million euros worth of garden machinery, tools, bicycles, lawn mowers and garden ornaments stolen in Irish gardens every summer. According to An Garda Síochána, the most likely items to be stolen are mowers, strimmers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers, garden furniture, auto mowers and plants. Thankfully, nature herself provides one of the best solutions to many garden crimes!

With careful thought and planning you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of garden crime. At the same time you can create an attractive garden, using defensive planting techniques. For instance you can create an impenetrable hedge. This will be more attractive than security fencing, but just as effective. Additionally, planting prickly and thorny shrubs around vulnerable windows and garden boundaries will serve as a deterrent to the burglar.

Plants To Use For Defensive Planting:

Red Berberis

Berberis, or Barberry as it is more commonly known, is a large genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs. It produces beautiful foliage in spring, summer and autumn. In early summer, it produces masses of bright yellow flowers. One particularly appealing type of Berberis is Berberis Darwinii. It is an evergreen variety, boasting glossy green foliage all year round. It produces beautiful orange flowers which blossom in May.

Berberis produces spiky thorns on its stems, making it an ideal plant for a defensive barrier. If planted as a hedge, shrub or screen, it will act as a defense mechanism for your home. It can be trimmed to any height, depending on the defense level desired. Berberis is an easy to grow plant, requiring little maintenance. It is ideal for creating a dense, impenetrable barrier. 

Red Berberis Hedge
Red Berberis Hedge


Firethorn or Pyracantha is another great option for defensive planting. As a member of the Rosaceae family it produces wonderful evergreen foliage. In summer its flowers are white, whilst in autumn and winter it boasts richly coloured berries. Its primary security feature is its sharp, spiky thorns which grow up to an inch in length. Oft times, it is planted as a barrier against a wall. Alternatively, is can be used to create a garden hedge or screen to deter intruders.

The Firethorn offers colour and interest all year round, particularly in autumn and winter when it is draped with bunches of brightly colored berries. The Firethorn is loved by garden wildlife. Birds nest in the stems and leaves in spring and summer and feed on the highly nutritious berries in winter. This easy to grow garden shrub will grow in any soil or garden and can be trimmed to a desired height or shape.

Firethorn Flowers
Firethorn Hedge


The Holly plant is a native of Ireland. It tolerates windy locations and poor soil conditions, hence its suitable for most Irish gardens. The Holly plant is ideal for defensive planting, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it grows tall, creating a fantastic tall shrub. Secondly, it carries spiky thorns on the outside of each leaf, a deterrent for intruders. Finally, it is an evergreen plant, hence it will protect your home all year round. 

Female varieties of the Holly include the Ilex Golden King and the Ilex Silver Mermaid. Both produce stunning foliage and red berries in autumn and winter. However, they require their male partner to do so. Holly is perfect for planting on a site boundary or to screen off a section of your garden. It can also be planted as a wall shrub to prevent access to windows, entrances or exits.

Holly Hedge
Holly Berries

Quercus Ilex

The Quercus Ilex or Holm Oak is a large evergreen oak native to the Mediterranean region. Holm is an ancient name for Holly, hence the Holm Oak can also be used for defensive planting. It is a member of the White Oak family, with acorns that mature in a single summer. It produces grey/green spiky foliage, forming an impenetrable hedge. It is easy to grow and can be clipped to create a formal hedge or grown as a large garden shrub.

Holm Oak Leaves
Holm Oak Hedge

Now is the time to consider security in your garden. According to An Garda Síochána, burglaries and thefts from sheds/garages and gardens increase by one third (33%) in the summer, despite residential burglaries decreasing at this time. Thankfully, nature provides us with one way to reduce crime. Criminals do not like climbing or brushing through prickly plants and hedges. Hence, defensive planting is one highly effective way of securing your home. 

Do you have questions about defensive planting? If so, just contact your local store where one of our helpful and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help and answer any questions you may have.