Survival Landscaping Part 1: Defense

By Bev Sandlin, Fillmore County Master Gardener

Last year was a particularly bad winter and it killed a lot of my rose bushes right back to the roots – and some it just plain killed. As I was cleaning up the roses and pruning the dead branches (and bleeding from multiple scratches to my arms and face) this spring it occurred to me why roses were so popular in Medieval times when marauding vandals and knights raided villages and outlying homesteads at will. And I was thinking about the English Cottage Gardens and how they were built to keep out livestock. Hmmm, defensive landscaping in order to survive. It made perfect sense to me. I’ve been thinking about this all summer and have even done some research on the subject.

rose with thorns

If you go to eHow, they advise keeping everything open and low shrubbery as your neighbors are your best defense – that just doesn’t seem too practical to me in a WROL situation.

Tessas house

On several sites there was talk about open space for a good field of vision around the home, hedges as protective barriers, selecting a site with high ground, chain link fencing, but never a mention of barbed wire. This is a three part series, so tomorrow I will go into barbed wire.

Hedges

Hedges are a popular way to gain privacy, block traffic noise and wind. Here in the North many people plant an evergreen hedge of either pine/spruce trees or arborvitae – a native species with flat needles. These evergreen hedges block the relentless prairie winds and even the snow from piling up against the houses.

Farmstead Arborvitae Hedge

Farmstead Arborvitae Hedge

City Arborvitae Hedge for Privacy

City Arborvitae Hedge for Privacy

Evergreen Hedge to define property lines and provide privacy.

Evergreen Hedge to define property lines and provide privacy.

Hedges are a natural barrier whether evergreen or deciduous. A tightly spaced tangled rose, lilac, barbarry or honeysuckle hedge will keep out most critters and intruders. Please hesitate at invasive species like bamboo and always check to be sure what you are purchasing is hardy in your zone. A sturdy hedge around a property provides privacy and directs visitors to where you want them to enter.

Fences

Fences are another option to keep people/critters out or in. Chain link fences are fairly inexpensive. Tall wooden ones offer privacy.

Solid wood privacy fence with defensive pickets on top.

Solid wood privacy fence with defensive pickets on top.

Pointed Picket Fence

Pointed Picket Fence

Adobe and rammed earth enclosures are popular in the southwest.

Adobe

Adobe

Rammed Earth Fence

Rammed Earth Fence

All of these provide some degree of protection and funnel traffic flow where you want it.

In town wooden privacy fence covered in vines with a multi-species hedge in front.

In town wooden privacy fence covered in vines with a multi-species hedge in front.

 

Driveways

Open lawns and driveways are ideal for a Mad Max invasion. Imagine intruders deciding to storm your home with a four wheel drive truck.

driveway

So how do you stop them? If you take a look at most convenience stores, they have these cement posts carefully placed in front of the store to stop a vehicle – I wouldn’t want to hit one of those!

KT posts

So I started looking around at what I have that could be defensive in the driveway and stop a vehicle, or at least make them think twice because even if they ran these over the oil pan would probably be punctured. Hmmm, those cement statues I am so fond of could be a defensive barrier in time of need!

Imagine hitting one of these 4' cement statues!

Imagine hitting one of these 4′ cement statues!

 

This iron bench moved into the driveway or even the smallish cement statue may be intimidating.

This iron bench moved into the driveway or even the smallish cement statue may be intimidating.

 

I wouldn't want to hit that cement horse either!

I wouldn’t want to hit that cement horse either!

 

Even this lowly cement goose could puncture an oil pan.

Even this lowly cement goose could puncture an oil pan.

 

Would NOT want to run this over!

Would NOT want to run this over!

 

Or how about the old wash tub filled with rock or the milk can?

Or how about the old wash tub filled with rock or the milk can?

 What do YOU have around that would work as a barrier in your driveway? Preparedness is all about thinking ahead. :)

 

Paths and Entrances

 Pathways are invitations to an entrance. Then the next question is, how secure is your entrance? Is the door solid with a good lock? Are the current screws in the hinges 3″ long penetrating the structural studs around the door? Is the siding and/door burnable if an incendiary device were thrown at it? How about drive-by shootings?

Stone house with open entrance.

Stone house with open entrance. Note how intruders could be beside the door when answered.

And then there is the “fatal funnel” where there is no cover near the door and an invading group would have to commit to a full frontal assault square in your sites. This can be accomplished with shrubbery on either side of the door or with simple handrails.

fatal funnel 1

Rails and shrubbery to funnel the visitors to the door.

Rails and shrubbery to funnel the visitors to the door.

Again, funneling visitors directly to the door with no place to stand other than in the line of sight.

Again, funneling visitors directly to the door with no place to stand other than in the line of sight.

Barred door, funneled, but with space to conceal on either side.

Barred door, funneled, but with space to conceal on either side.

Funneled with brick around the entrance and a dog sign in the yard.

Funneled with brick around the entrance and a dog sign in the yard.

Which house would YOU prefer to defend?

Which house would YOU prefer to defend?

Fatal Funnel Entrance

Fatal Funnel Entrance

 I’m hoping this gives you some food for thought on defending your home and the strategic use of landscaping.

 

Links to the other parts of this series:

http://seasonedcitizenprepper.com/survival-landscaping-part-2-barbed-wire/

http://seasonedcitizenprepper.com/survival-landscaping-part-3-permaculture/

 

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