“Defensible” isn’t a word you may hear that much, but it is, in fact, a word—mostly used by urban planners as a way to describe neighborhoods. Essentially, defensible space theory states that if the residents of a neighborhood feel an appropriate amount of territoriality over their living space, they’ll be watchful and try to protect it. So create a home that you take pride in and find sacred. It sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be—here are five easy little things you can do to make your home that much more defensible:
1. Create a Defensible Yard
You don’t have to get ready to be on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens, but your yard should be neat and clean, free of junk and debris—move any old cars or other detritus to the workshop area of the garage, take it to a storage unit or to the dump (if you’re unable to take it to one of these places yourself, get in touch with local freight brokers who’ll set you up with a truck to haul the spare parts away).
Now, you’re left with a blank slate to beautify! Fill your yard with plenty of growing things, but make sure that all walkways are clear to easily walk through and that all your windows give you a clear line of sight to the outside. Keep areas with access to your home—garden gates, garage door, front and back doors, etc.—well-lit at night, perhaps set to turn on with a motion sensor for extra security.
Now plant some bushes, flowers, and vegetables that look nice and are something you can maintain. Does your heart swell with pride as you survey your property from the street? Your yard has made your home more defensible!
2. Be Good Neighbors
Cultivate relationships with your neighbors that allow you to create a unified, defensible community. If community members feel responsibility for the space they share, there is less crime; it follows that if you and your neighbors are friends, you’ll want to watch out for each other. So take cookies or chips and salsa to the new families as they move in and build a sense of community and friendship with the neighbors you already have.
Once you’ve established a sense of trust and friendship with your neighbors, agree to look out for each other. Be aware of each other’s’ movements and routines, ask them to get your mail and papers as well as watch your house while you’re away, and be willing to do the same for them.