Thefts from gardens are a growing problem – just ask Kew, where an incredibly rare dwarf water lily has recently vanished, presumably stolen to order for a collector.
But thieves aren’t after just valuable plants (although one garden expert has suggested that if you have a plant worth protecting, grow it in the back garden away from prying eyes) they are likely to nick just about anything that will make them some easy money.
So it pays to be on guard in the garden and take note of the following safety tips:
Make sure you lock your gardening equipment away in a shed, using strong locks/padlocks.
Try to screen your shed’s windows, so that thieves cannot see what you’ve got in there.
Don’t leave doors and windows open while you garden, or leave keys out on view, or under the plant pot – the first place a thief will look.
Mark your lawnmower with distinctive motifs in paint, or use ultraviolet markings to show it’s yours
Alarm any outbuildings that contain valuable items.
Install security lights as a deterrent to thieves.
Place heavy weights under the soil of heavy pots, to make it difficult to move them.
Protect any valuable statues with wireless, sensory alarms that will send out a signal if anyone tries to move them.
Put chains around the root ball of expensive trees and then bury these roots deep in the soil. You can also buy tree anchors to help protect your greenery.
Photograph your valuable garden items, so that they can be more easily identified by the police, should they be stolen.
Use gravel on paths so that you can hear intruders approach, or leave. It will also make any getaway with a wheelbarrow very slow.
Make the most of nature and let it work for you. Use thorny plants such as berberis, holly and blackthorn to protect your garden’s entry areas, so as to make it difficult to scale walls and fences easily.
Put roses and pyracantha under windows to deter thieves, and use dense hedges to make it difficult for them to get into and out of your garden.
Other plants you can use to help form part of your garden’s defences include sharp-leaved pampas grass and spiky gooseberry bushes – the latter, of course, have the added benefit of providing fruit (as long as thieves don’t pick them first).