On shed alert; Bright ideas to keep plots safe.
YOU wouldn't leave your front door open with your telly and computer on show.
But many of us are happy to store expensive garden equipment in unlocked sheds or garages.
An open gate presents a no-brainer for an opportunistic thief - it's less risky than breaking into a house.
The first line of defence is to make sure property boundaries are secure. Fences and walls should be kept in good repair and gates locked.
A simple trellis on top of a fence provides extra protection by making it difficult to climb over. Growing thorny climbers like roses on fences will also deter thieves.
In contrast, at the front of the house keep hedges and fences low - no more than one metre - so an intruder cannot hide behind them. You should grow defensive planting (prickly plants, bushes and shrubs) close to vulnerable areas such as windows, fences and boundary walls.
Pyracantha firethorn is ideal, as is berberis, hawthorn, blackthorn and ordinary holly.
Installing outside security lighting is also a bright move. Position lighting so it is not a nuisance to neighbours or distraction for road users.
Smash Place them high enough so they cannot be reached and point them so they shine only on your property.
Don't leave tools, gardening equipment or debris lying around in your garden - these could be used to smash windows and break into your home. Likewise, padlock ladders.
Check your household insurance policy to ensure it covers garden and shed equipment. Mark tools and equipment with your postcode using a UV pen. Note any serial numbers and take photos of larger items stored in your shed so you have a record.
Noisy gravel paths and driveways can stop someone sneaking in. Neighbours will hear any vehicles on your drive when you are away.
If you have expensive statues and ornaments, consider installing CCTV. Look for systems you can monitor from your mobile.
Put hanging baskets on lockable brackets or thread chain through the basket rim and attach it to the wall. Bolt planters to the ground using coach bolts through drainage holes.
And finally, secure statues, urns and large planters by cementing them in place or by chaining them to an anchor - either a wall bolt or one fixed to the ground.