Home improvement projects can help you boost curb appeal, but they can also be functional, boosting home security and giving you and your loved ones greater peace of mind. Here are 13 exterior home projects to add to your to-do list.
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A. Landscaping Upgrades
Just because you don’t want to provide hiding spots for intruders doesn’t mean you can’t have nice, decorative landscaping. Instead, be smart about what you choose. If you plan ahead, you can use your landscape to prevent crime; this strategy is called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).
Here are a few ways to use this tactic to keep your home safer while making it more attractive.
1. Trim the Bushes
Overgrown bushes don’t just look unsightly; they also serve as an open invite for burglars. According to a study on burglary tactics from King 5 News, burglars prefer homes with large trees, bushes or shrubs around the home. Intruders like to hit houses where they have places to hide, and your bushes give them the perfect spot to duck from oncoming traffic or nosy neighbors.
You can increase visibility and discourage burglars if you trim all bushes and trees to three feet or shorter.
2. Cut Down Trees
Trees are another potential hiding spot. Worse, however, is that they can also help a burglar get into your home, climbing a tree to gain access through a second-story window. It may also be overgrown, which isn’t always an attractive look as the centerpiece of your yard. Trim back the tree branches yourself or hire a professional to cut it down altogether if necessary.
3. Direct “Traffic”
Instead of having cars parked wherever the driver chooses to land, which can look crowded to the outside eye, direct this “traffic” for a more organized home. The Balance recommends using curbing and landscaping to direct automobile and foot traffic into a controlled, visible area. This gives you the upper hand and takes control away from an intruder.
Add stones to frame your driveway or wood planks to direct people from the driveway to your home and get a Pinterest-worthy look.
4. Remove Fences
Unless you have an indestructible, 10-foot fence in your lawn, your fence can actually help a burglar by keeping him or her shielded from your neighbors. While, stone walls or stained wooden fences are attractive, they aren’t very secure:
“Burglars like to see privacy fences, tall hedge fences, and stone or brick walls as boundary or secondary walls,” according to Fred Tyrell from Surviopedia. “These kinds of fences practically scream to burglars that you have valuables inside that are worth stealing.”
Either construct or invest in a fence that will keep burglars out. Ackerman Security recommends metal or mesh wire fencing for the following reasons:
- It doesn’t provide a hiding space—you should be able to see people from outside of it.
- It’s hard to climb over.
- It usually includes secure gates and is secured into the ground, making it harder to get in, over or under it.
If you go with wire or mesh, consider how you can paint it to be most aesthetically pleasing in your yard.
5. Keep Up With Your Lawn Maintenance
In addition to keeping your bushes and shrubs at the recommended height, be diligent about your lawn and exterior house care. Burglars prefer unoccupied houses, whether you’re gone for the day or on vacation. If your grass is overgrown or your mail or trash is piling up, a burglar may assume you’re not home or that the house is vacant. “Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway,” a convicted burglar confessed to Michelle Crouch from Reader’s digest. “And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it.”
B. Physical Home Upgrades
There are small changes you can make to your home itself to boost security and upgrade the look of an older home. From sleek door locks to upgraded lighting, consider these ideas.
1. Upgrade Your Door
Your front door is one of the most common entry points for a potential burglar, not to mention one of the first things someone notices about your home. Thirty-four percent of burglars enter home through the front door. Upgrading it to a modern model can boost aesthetics and safety. If you don’t want to replace your door altogether, however, which could cost upwards of $500, according to Fixr, replace your locks instead.
You likely have a pre-installed deadbolt, which can be upgraded to a mortise lock or a jimmy-proof deadbolt. These locks are much harder to pick and can withstand more force, which makes it difficult to kick in your door should a burglar try to use forceful entry.
An unfamiliar lock can also discourage a burglar from even trying to break in. “Only about one in eight burglars reported picking locks or using a key that they had previously acquired to gain entry,” according to Phoenix Lockprimary. “So simply having an intimidating lock can prevent potential burglars from attempting to enter your home.”
Don’t forget to power wash your door or re-paint it to get that aesthetic boost you’re looking for.
2. Go Digital
A smart lock is another aesthetically pleasing option, especially for modern homes with sleek styling and finishes. It’s also a great choice if you have forgetful family members who frequently leave your doors unlocked or lose their keys. Some locks have a keypad, which requires a code to gain entry. You can also get digital locks that lock automatically and most smart locks allow remote access so you can lock or unlock your door using your smartphone.
3. Replace Your Window Locks
If your front door is the most common entry point, your first-floor windows are a close second. Twenty-three percent of burglars get access to the home through a first floor window. Replace your current locks with window deadbolts or exterior window locks. Better yet, replace those old windows with a newer, more attractive option that will also be more secure.
4. Install Shatterproof Glass
If a burglar can’t open your window her or she may try to break it instead. Take additional security measures like using shatterproof or reinforced glass, bars and window alarms, which emit an alert if anyone tries to enter your window. If you don’t want to replace all of them at once, start with windows that need the most love, like those with unsightly cracks and dents.
5. Use Window Stops
Shatterproof glass only works when your windows are closed, and when the weather gets warmer, you may not want to keep your windows closed all the time. “Particularly in the summer months, people leave some of their windows open,” according to Modern Survival. “It’s a very common mistake to leave your windows open if you are running out for an errand. Most people don’t think about it.” The good news is you can install window stops so you can enjoy the fresh air without sacrificing security or aesthetics—no more piling up books or using old boxes to keep the windows open.
6. Install Exterior Lighting
There’s no hiding your outdoor lights, so if they’re old and don’t match the aesthetics of your home, they’ll stick right out. Still, they’re a great option for deterring criminals who prefer to work in the dark: “The cover of darkness serves as a security blanket for many thieves. Night gives the illusion of security and safety, the ability to move undetected no matter the intention,” says to David Artman from The Home Security Superstore. He continues, “Outdoor security lights offer a simple, yet effective way to protect your home by literally shining a light on the problem.”
Install modern, sleek and stylish lights with motion-detectors that will illuminate when someone approaches. This can give the illusion that someone is home or discourage a potential burglar who no longer has the luxury of working in privacy.
7. Upgrade Your Window Treatments
Burglars tend to target houses for two reasons: they know nobody’s home or they can see enticing loot through the window. According to A Secure Life, burglars steal items that are easy to carry and resell for a high price. If your windows provide an unobstructed view inside, a criminal can case your house, find out when you’re not home, and take what they want.
Avoid this by adding attractive blinds, curtains or window treatments and remember to keep them closed. Not only will this add the decorate flair you’re looking for, but it can throw off a burglar who’s trying to scope out the inventory.
When it comes to home security and aesthetics, there are several simple ways to add more protection to your house while boosting the overall look and feel. Choose the items from this list that make the most sense for your home and your neighborhood and get to work.
Also see how to properly secure your backyard shed.