Fences and Your Home’s Security

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Traveling around the average city, it’s common to see fenced-in backyards on most homes. About the only exception to this is in rural areas where the homes are far apart and new housing developments where the homeowners haven’t installed fences yet. But a fenced-in backyard, most often fenced in with a cedar privacy fence, has become a standard feature of American homes. Front yards, on the other hand, are another matter entirely.

So what are all those fences doing?

First of all, let me state that those fences really aren’t installed for security; they’re installed for privacy. People want to be able to go out in their back yard and enjoy it without having to deal with their neighbors. While that may not sound very neighborly, not all neighbors are worth building a close relationship with.

Another of the big reasons that we install fences in our back yards is to keep children and pets inside, on our property, rather than out of view, where we don’t know what they are doing. A nice fenced-in backyard is a great play place, both for dogs and kids if we can get our kids off their electronic devices, that is. But while having our kids play in our back yards, rather than in the street, is more secure, that’s really not the motivating force behind having them play there.

So does that fence add to our home’s security? The answer is yes, and it does so in several ways.

First, many of us have things in our back yards that are kept outdoors, but we want to keep away from others. These things can be boats, RVs, or a swimming pool for our kids. Fencing those things helps keep them out of sight of casual view, meaning that criminals are less likely to see them.

Secondly, that fence makes it harder for criminals to take what is ours. While it’s not hard to climb over the average six-foot privacy fence, it’s a whole lot harder to get over it with one’s arms full of things that have been pilfered from the house. Criminals usually don’t even consider breaking in through the back of the house when they see a fence is installed.

Of course, locking the gate is an excellent way to encourage those thieves to go elsewhere as well. Most people don’t bother locking it because it is an inconvenience. But it’s nowhere near as big an inconvenience for you as it is for others who don’t belong in your backyard. If you have anything worth stealing out there, such as construction materials, then put a lock on the gate.

But what about the front yard?

Few Americans bother fencing in their front yard, but we should. If a fence around our backyard makes it more difficult for a thief to break in and steal from us, a fence around the front yard will do the same. Actually, it would work even better, as they wouldn’t want to be seen going over the fence, as that would tend to attract attention. If there’s anything a break-in artist wants to avoid, it’s attention.

But for that to work, the fence would need a locked gate, adding another layer of inconvenience to us as well. Wealthy people seem to be willing to endure that inconvenience, but the rest of us aren’t. Some of that can be put off to the cost of putting a fence around the front yard and the additional cost of putting in a remote-controlled driveway gate. But even without the expense, most of us don’t take our own security that seriously. We see those fences as something for the rich, but not something for ourselves.

Granted, putting any meaningful security fence around the front yard of a home is expensive; usually considerably more costly than the privacy fences we put out back. But a good sturdy hedge will accomplish the same thing, and it will do so for a whole lot less money. I had a four-foot-high hedge in the last home I owned. The only parts that need to be made of metal are the gates, along with a little stub of fence that goes into the hedge, keeping people from slipping between them.

One trick to using a hedge as an effective fence is to grow it big enough. Four feet high is a good height, especially when the hedge has thorns. Let it grow at least a couple of feet wide as well. At the same time, you also want to interweave the branches between adjacent bushes so that there’s no way of pushing between them. That leaves the only means of access as over the top, which isn’t all that easy or at the gates.

Still, there’s the inconvenience of having to unlock a gate when we get home or going out to unlock a gate when we have visitors. That’s actually worth it for the added security it provides, and once you get used to it, it really isn’t all that much of a bother.

If we’re really about making our family more secure, then this is the type of thing we need to think about. There’s more to it than keeping our powder dry and our survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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