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.
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.
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 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.
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 are another option to keep people/critters out or in. Chain link fences are fairly inexpensive. Tall wooden ones offer privacy.
Adobe and rammed earth enclosures are popular in the southwest.
All of these provide some degree of protection and funnel traffic flow where you want it.
Open lawns and driveways are ideal for a Mad Max invasion. Imagine intruders deciding to storm your home with a four wheel drive truck.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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: