With spring getting off to a slow start in Denver this year, you might be a little behind on your outdoor home improvements. Everyone is hankering to get outside and get a few warm-weather projects done in the yard.
In addition to planting flower and vegetable gardens, consider how certain landscaping choices can help protect your home. Experts across Denver offer the following landscaping tips to help protect your home from outdoor fires, car crashes, and even crime.
Landscape for Home Security
Kristen S. Fefes with the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado says you can do several things to reduce suspicious activity around the exterior of your home.
- Lighting can deter break-ins. Landscape lighting is an excellent design feature that can illuminate a path to your front door for guests. Aiming fixtures strategically at a home can also shed light on shadowy corners and crevices.
- Keep doors and windows clear of large trees or shrubs. Properly pruning plants clears the way for your outside view and reduces spots for those outside to lurk or hide.
- Choose thorny, prickly plants. Fefes says plants such as shrub roses, yucca, cacti and American plum are good choices because of thorns, spurs and blades in their foliage. “Landscape designers often choose these unfriendly plants to discourage people from walking in certain places, but it’s also a good choice for security,” she says.
Landscape for Crash Prevention
Lately, the news in Denver seems to tell more stories about wayward cars crashing into houses, although the Denver Police Department doesn’t tabulate data on these car-versus-house events.
Abe Medina, president of the Colorado Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, offers tips used around government buildings that can work to help protect your home, too:
- Install a low retaining wall (2 to 3 feet high) between your house and the street. Medina says this works especially well in yards with a slope. The short wall may create enough of a barrier to stop any cars from reaching your home if they come speeding off the street and into your yard.
- Place large rocks strategically between your house and the street. “If you don’t have a yard with any grade or slope,” Medina says, “you could do the same thing with strategically placed boulders. You want to space the rocks so that a car would hit them and not get through.”
Landscape for Fire Protection
Larry Vickerman, director of Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, lived through the Waldo Canyon Fire that roared through western Colorado Springs in summer 2012. When asked about landscaping decisions with fire protection in mind, therefore, he brings both professional and personal experience to these landscaping tips:
- Maintain a no-planting zone with rock mulch at least 5 feet around the perimeter of all structures, including decks. Remember to keep leaves and debris raked up from this zone.
- Avoid planting large-spreading junipers anywhere around your home’s foundation. Junipers burn easily and can transfer flames to your home. It’s better to plant deciduous shrubs and perennials outside the 5-foot, no-planting zone. They do not burn as well as evergreens.
- Regularly trim limbs from large trees – especially conifers – away from your home or outbuildings. “I suggest minimum 10 feet, and more is better,” he says.
- Mow any native grasses and vegetation to create 30 to 40 feet of defensible space around structures. This strategy prevents fire from being able to “ladder up” into trees and shrubs.
And, while landscaping can go a long way to protecting your home, remember that Denver Police Department home safety experts say that neighbors who look out for each other make whole communities safer. If you see something, hear something or smell something, please report it to the proper authorities.
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