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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Security Landscaping - Part Five - Additional Types of Thorny Plants

On the west coast and Rocky Mountain region, there is a wide variety of thorny landscaping plants to choose from for your security landscaping.

Pyracantha and Barberry are two fast growing, evergreen shrubs with wicked thorns. Both can reach heights of about 15 feet and can be pruned into a tight, impenetrable hedge. The pyracanthia has red, yellow or orange berries in the fall. The Barberry is characterized by their three-spined thorns. These are excellent to use along the perimeter of your property, smaller varieties are effective under windows.

Roses are beautiful solutions for creating security. One friend of mine planted a 75 foot rose hedge along the fence wall of his west side home (west of the Rio Grande), which has been effective in keeping people from hopping the fence from the arroyo that borders that side of his property.

Another variety of rose, called the Japanese rose, or Rosa rugosa is a suckering shrub which can spread quite fast. It can grow between 5-7 feet in height, forms dense thickets and has zillions of wicked thorns on its stalks. This rose blooms once a year and is very attractive to nesting birds.

Oregon grape is a large evergreen shrub mostly found in the Northwest. It has a leaf like a holly, but produces small blossoms in the spring. In the summer, the berries resemble small concord grapes. Oregon grape is one of the few plants that seem to do well beneath pine trees and in areas of little shade. This shrub grows to 4-6 feet in height, with a spread of up to 10 feet. These are excellent perimeter shrubs as well and practically impossible to crawl through. I had a cousin who made it through one of these as a kid. He still has the scar on his back as proof.

Holly is another variety of thorny plant. There are nearly 400 varieties of both trees and shrubs growing anywhere from 6 to 60 feet in height. Holly produces a bright red berry, which is mildly toxic. It's not a plant recommended with small children in the yard.

If your home is along an irrigation road, canal, arroyo, gully or alley, a row of blackberry or raspberry bushes provides a practical deterrent for any trespasser. These are fruit producing, suckering vines that can be trained to grow along a fence, like chain link. Left alone, they can turn into thickets as high as 10 feet. Berry bushes spread quite easily and are difficult to get rid of once established. They are best planted in areas where they won't interfere with other landscaping, gardening or agriculture.

Bougainvillea is a thorny vine with purple or yellow blossoms that can grow to lengths of up to 35 feet. It prefers warmer climates, and blooms frequently. Bougainvillea is ideal for fences and trellises.

Natal plums are another variety of southern plant that prefers warmer climates. This evergreen shrub reaches up to 7 feet in height, with a spread of 8-10 feet. It's characterized by a unique mounding shape and white, star shaped flowers.

For desert residents, spine tipped yucca and prickly pear cactus are excellent plants for chasing off would be burglars. Prickly pear cactus is especially effective beneath windows. Many of the berry, holly and Pyracantha grow well in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas too.

If you want thorny trees try: Hawthorne, this dense hedge grows 20 to 25 feet high and produces fragrant pink and white flowers. It has sharp thorns, which can range from 1 to 5 inches in length; Hardy Orange is a fruit-bearing tree often used around prisons. These grow 15 to 20 feet high and wide and are covered to the ground with lacerating thorns; Black Locust is resistant to rot and pollution and produces creamy white flowers and a pair of short thorns at the base of each leaf. My grandson calls them “surprise needles”, as they are somewhat hidden from view.

Basically, unless you surround your home with an electrified, walled, gated, razor wired, mined and moated compound, you'll never be able to keep people completely off your property and even then I doubt 100% is possible. But, by planting thorny shrubs and placing lighting and wireless alarms in areas where trespassers tend to collect or cut through or can hide, you will make your home, yard or compound less of a target for two and four legged intruders and at the very least, be alerted to the intrusion in enough time to protect and arm yourself and yours.

CK, a 50 something, soon to be rural homesteading Prepper.



Special Note: I would like to thank CK for an excellent article and for allowing me the privilege of posting these articles for the benefit of my readers. THANKS CK!

RW