Sure, most parts of the U.S. may be headed for a long winter, but spring will eventually come! And with it comes an opportunity to fight crime.

Here’s a new concept: battling the bad guys with Bougainvillea? Foil felons with Fuchsias, and chase criminals with Camellias? Can flowers actually help prevent crime at your property? The answer is “yes.” Flowers and landscape plants can not only beautify your property, but can be an effective crime fighting tool as well.

Historically, we have relied on methods of security that are of the “target hardening” variety such as locks, gates and iron bars to prevent crime. These visible security devices are valuable, but sometimes limited in their effectiveness. Today, many are turning to the softer side of crime prevention, and complimenting locks and deadbolts with landscape plants, flowers and other design features to provide an additional layer of safety and security.

CPTED focuses on how the environment contributes to the crime rate, and incorporates design features to remove the opportunity for crime. Crimes occur because there is opportunity for the criminal to commit the crime. Many times the physical design of one property offers more opportunity than the next for the criminal to operate. By incorporating CPTED, you can lessen the opportunity for crime, making your property a less attractive target for criminals.

The one aspect of CPTED, Natural Surveillance, is that criminals feel less comfortable in areas where they are being watched, or may be seen. Keeping shrubs and trees trimmed to maintain the feeling of openness and visibility makes the criminal element feel like they are at risk of getting caught. On the other hand, legitimate users of an area feel safer because they can see what is going on around them and can see potential threats and respond quicker. A property with overgrown and unkempt landscape is an invitation for criminals. 

Natural Access Control utilizes landscape plants and other natural design elements to channel people away from unauthorized areas. For instance, a paved walkway lined with flowers strongly suggests the approved route to a proper entrance. A thorny vine or rose bush can restrict access to windows or a graffiti-plagued wall, and add beauty to the property as well. The goal of using landscape plants is not necessarily to prevent, but to discourage trespassing into unauthorized areas. This is accomplished in a more subtle way rather than overwhelming the environment with the presence of “hard” security measures.

Territorial Reinforcement is based on the idea that criminals feel less comfortable operating in areas where they perceive someone is in control. Territorial Reinforcement utilizes “Pride in Ownership” to send a clear message that the people responsible for a property take pride in it and will challenge someone coming there to commit crimes. Utilizing decorative pavers or colored concrete and freshly planted flowers to identify private property gives residents a sense of territoriality and projects the image that someone is responsible for the property. Criminals are less likely to commit crimes where they feel that there are people who take an interest in the property and will protect it.

Take a look around your property and decide if it offers added opportunity for crime. Is it an attractive target for criminals due to the lack of a little TLC, or does it project the image that care has been taken to maintain it? Remember, an overgrown ficus tree can offer opportunity for a criminal to operate unnoticed. On the other hand, a delicate row of daisies can be a subtle but powerful guardian, protecting your property, while looking good doing it.