In the age of high-tech security systems, it’s hard to recognize any other way to protect your home. As soon as the intruder crosses the threshold, they face blaring alarms or warnings that authorities have been notified. These are all excellent defense mechanisms, but can thorny bushes prevent intruders from breaking in in the first place?
Protecting your home starts from the outside by planting prickly shrubs and bushes with thorns to deter intruders. Many of us immediately imagine rows of spiky cacti lining the perimeter of our house. While this may be an attractive style for some gardens, it doesn’t suit everyone’s taste.
Luckily, these protective plants come in many shapes and sizes. With 17 different thorny shrubs to choose from, and the ability to add plenty more to the list, finding a plant that matches your garden’s style is easier than getting past these defensive barriers.
Why are thorny bushes necessary to defend my home?
Homeowners have used plants as protective barriers for centuries. Tall hedges fence in cattle or provide privacy for families.
Prickly shrubs and trees keep deer out of gardens, wild animals away from livestock, and provide a natural defense against burglars. Raising livestock may not be on your list of priorities, but using these plants will give your homes and gardens an added defense.
Where should I place pricker bushes and thorny shrubs?
When selecting the location of your thorny plants, there are two groups of people to keep in mind: the people the shrubs are trying to keep out of your home, and the people in your home you are trying to keep out of the shrubs. Ensuring your family members and houseguests don’t fall victim to these defense mechanisms is just as crucial as dissuading burglars.
Providing a footpath around the prickly plants with enough space to avoid brushing up against branches avoids unwanted contact with spiky shrubs in your yard. For intruders, place these plants in locations where burglars may try to enter the home.
Placing thorny bushes beneath window sills makes it difficult for thieves to climb over the hedges without muttering a yelp or two and thorny bushes that repel cats can be just as beneficial. Equally, placing thorny shrubs against the border of a fence prevents burglars from hopping over it, especially if what awaits them at the bottom is the thorny embrace of a thicket of roses. Ouch!
How should you handle bushes with thorns?
If having to handle and plant the thorny shrubs gives you pause, wearing the proper protection will put your mind at ease. A thick pair of gardening gloves, preferably a pair with puncture-resistant material or reinforced palms, will keep your hands safe and thorn-free.
Some spiky plants have irritants on the tips of their thorns, which may cause itching or swelling. Using gloves also prevents this. For added protection, use goggles to keep sharp splinters out of your eyes and thick boots to avoid stepping on any discarded needles during pruning.
What other uses do these thorny shrubs have?
Besides keeping out human trespassers, these shrubs and bushes are also effective at keeping out wild animals. A deer repellent recipe may keep one group of animals out of your garden, but it does not prevent animals like rabbits or gophers from wandering into your yard for a tasty snack.
Even outdoor cats may roam into your gardens for an afternoon snooze. Surround your garden with a spiky hedge or use thorny shrubs as ground cover to keep your prized flowers and plants safely out of reach of animals.
17 Types of Thorn Bushes and Spiny Shrubs to Defend Your Home from Unwanted Guests
Shrub Rose (Rosa rugosa): Defend Your Home with a Classic Favorite
Shrub Roses are hybrids that have combined some of the best qualities of other roses. As a result, Shrub Roses are easy to maintain and can withstand numerous types of harsh growing conditions, including cold temperatures, high humidity, and drought. Thorns also grow in plentiful abundance with these plants, making them an excellent defense for your home.
Shrub Roses like the rugosa can grow 8 feet high and 6 feet wide. Their massive size is perfect for use as a dense hedge and will keep trespassers from crossing over into your property. A beautiful way to protect your garden, the rugosa flowers bloom from late spring to early summer and give off a strong, pleasant scent.
Agarita (Mahonia trifoliata)
Not all plants use thorns as their defense mechanism against intruders. Shrubs like Agarita plants use sharp-tipped leaves as their weapon of choice. These plants have much more to offer, however, than an added boost to home security.
Their dense branches and prickly edges make them magnets for songbirds searching for predator-free plants to call home. Small, yellow flowers bloom from late February to April. This evergreen shrub also produces red berries from April to May that are edible, should you choose to brave the spiky thicket.
Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia mill): The Perfect Thorny Stems to Place Beneath Your Windows
The Crown of Thorns plant is as intimidating as its name suggests. Its long spiky stem can grow up to 3 feet high with inch-long spindles that cover its entire length. Despite its alarming spines, the Crown of Thorns produces beautiful pink flowers that make the plant look slightly less terrifying.
The size and shape of these plants make them perfect deterrents beneath window sills. Ingesting the plant is toxic for both pets and humans. Even the sap will generate a poison-ivy-like rash by merely touching it.
While this is a bonus defense to keep intruders out of your yard, this should be taken into account when finding a suitable location. Keep the plant out of reach of footpaths, and use a border or spiny ground cover to keep pets away.
Purple Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea)
The Japanese Barberry has a high ornamental appeal to landscapers because of their spectacular accents of colors, which start in the spring and last throughout the fall. These purple shrubs bloom with soft yellow flowers in spring, then sport deep red or reddish-orange foliage in the fall. In winter, all that’s left are the spiny stems.
Easy to prune, with a brilliant display of colors throughout the year, these shrubs make excellent dense hedges. The Japanese Barberry grows anywhere from one to six feet tall and can even be used as borders for the bottom of fences if adequately maintained.
Full sun and well-drained soils are ideal growing conditions for the shrub. However, it can also grow in tolerate partial shade and is drought resistant.
Chinese Flowering Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa)
For a breathtaking spin on the hedge plant, flowering quince displays beautiful pink, red, or white flowers that bloom in late winter to spring. Flowering Quince also produces yellowish fruit, similar to apples but too acidic to eat raw. This fruit ripens in the fall and makes delicious jams once cooked.
This drought-tolerant plant does best with minimal watering. Too much water can causes root rot or leads to fungal diseases that spread throughout the plant. Monitoring the amount of water during rainstorms helps prevent issues from forming, as well as watering the plant in the morning to allow it time to dry throughout the day.
Common Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides): A Hedge Plant Rich in Nutrients and Home Security
True to its name, Sea Buckthorn grows in coastal areas. The shrub consists of long, silvery green leaves and produces yellowish-green flowers in early spring. Its branches include sharp thorns, making it another excellent hedge plant.
Sea Buckthorn also bears fruits that are rich in nutrients, supplying yet another reason to add the shrub to your list of defensive plants. Vitamins A and C, as well as folic acid, can be found in these edible home security systems. The fruits are also used to make yummy beverages and preserves.
Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
A jumble of sturdy branches, sharp leaves, and unforgiving twigs, hawthorn is not a plant to be taken lightly. Surprisingly, this plant is a member of the rose family and grows as either a thorny shrub or a small tree. Best as a hedge plant, the leaves are lobed, with tiny serrated edges that quickly latch onto clothing and skin.
Its red berries are the Common Hawthorn’s most notable features and are harvested in autumn before the first frost arrives. Throughout the centuries, traditional remedies and medicines comprised of these berries were said to have “heart-healthy” qualities.
Common Hawthorn consists of several thorny species, including both English Hawthorn and Washington Hawthorn. This variety makes finding a look and style that matches your garden even easier.
Keep in mind some species bear the name “Hawthorn” without bearing their defensive qualities. Plant species like Indian Hawthorn, for example, are thornless and are not even a part of the Cratageus family.
Blackberry (Rubus fructicosus)
Blackberries are a fast-growing shrub that can be grown beneath windows or along the border of a fence. The rapid speed at which these plants grow means you will have to prune them often. Blackberries are not the most beautiful plants on the planet, but they do produce delicious fruits that ripen in late summer to the beginning of fall.
The “ouch” factor on these plants is so bad that creating hybrids of “thornless “blackberry bushes was considered a landmark achievement. The thorns on a blackberry bush are not thorns at all. Instead, they are a hard part of the plant’s bark, sharpened and able to tear through thick materials like denim.
Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos): For Prehistoric Protection that Stands the Test of Time
The Honey Locust looks like a tree ripped straight from your worst nightmares. With six-inch thorns that jut out of the sides like daggers, any intruder will think twice before stepping foot on your property.
To put the size and severity of the thorns into perspective, these spines were initially used to ward off giant sloths and mastodons. So when these colossal creatures went extinct, Honey Locust did not get the memo. However, today, we are left with a great way to defend our homes that also double as year-round Halloween decorations.
Common Holly (Ilex agulfolium)
There’s a reason why Ebeneezer Scrooge cursed people with a stake of holly through the heart at the mere mention of Christmas. It hurts! The dark green leaves of these evergreen shrubs and trees possess spiked edges designed to keep trespassers out of your yard.
Common Holly shrubs come in a variety of species and are not just for winter time. These are year round shrubs that continue to protect your home even after the holidays are over. So, choose the size and style that suits your home and fits into the location you want.
American Century Plant (Agave americana): A Succulent Perfect for Borders and Hedging
The leaves of the American Century Plant shoot out from the center like blue-green blades. Sharp needles line the edges of each long leaf, making them look a little like a cactus. Both cacti and agave are a part of the succulent family, meaning they can retain water in drier climates.
While the agave lacks some of the same properties as cacti, they are incredibly drought tolerant plants, making them a great addition to gardens in hot, arid locations. The sap of the agave plant can cause itching, a burning sensation, and rashes.
Using added caution when handling or coming into contact with these plants will spare you the added irritation. Century plants can grow up to six feet tall and ten feet wide, making them excellent focal points in a landscape or as hedging.
Blackthorn – Prunus spinosa
For the longest time, people viewed Blackthorn shrubs as a symbol of witchcraft. With its black-brown branches peppered with long thorns, these plants probably looked like the product of a witch’s curse. The wood was even suspected to be the material used to craft magic wands and staffs.
Today, the plant is more commonly associated with the wood used in walking sticks, and its sloe berries synonymous with gin. A native of the United Kingdom, the plant has been found all over, from the Mediterranean to Siberia to Iran. Its ability to adapt to almost any climate makes it an excellent plant for all regions across the United States.
Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry (Ribes speciosum): A Spiky Shrub to Brighten Your Winters
If you are looking for a hedge plant to add a little pop of color to your winters, the Fuchsia-Flowered Gooseberry is the one you want. The bloom time for these bright red flowers starts in January and lasts through the end of spring. During the dormant seasons, the flowers disappear, leaving nothing but the thorny stems and branches.
Despite the ugly look in the summer months, these plants are great ways to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. They are also deer resistant, which means your plants will suffer less damage by deer than other plants.
Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)
Also referred to as the “toothache tree,” Prickly Ash received its name from its historical use as a remedy to treat mouth pain. Chewing on the bark, leaves, or fruit from the tree will cause a tingling sensation that numbs the mouth, which made it especially useful for curing toothaches in the past.
Nowadays, these thickets are used to border property lines and keep people from trespassing across lawns. Its “prickly” name comes from the sharp points along the ash’s bark.
A hardy plant, there are virtually no issues with pests or disease. Plus, all parts of the plant, from its stems to leaves, give off an aromatic, citrusy scent.
False Holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus): A Fragrant Plant that is Drought Resistant
Similar to the plant it mimics, False Holly is an evergreen shrub. These shrubs can be kept short and are perfect ways to trim the edges of your home and block access to windows. Their ability to withstand drought and shaded areas ensure their success against areas of your house with longer roofing, which may limit access to water or sunlight.
In the fall, small, white flowers bloom, nestled between the dark green foliage. These flowers give off a potent yet pleasant fragrance.
Hardy Orange (Poncirus trifoliata)
Hardy Orange is a bitter orange variety shrub used as a living fence and protective barrier. Spines along the stem grow up to two inches long, barring access to your home and gardens with some serious puncture wounds. Its dense foliage also keeps deer and other animals from wandering into your yard.
The “hardy” moniker of the trifoliata is well-earned. Resistant to humidity, drought, and heat, the Hardy Orange can also survive in below freezing weather. The fruits are edible on this plant, too, though bitter and used mostly for making marmalade.
Firethorn (Pyracantha): A Spiny Shrub Perfect for Borders and Trellises
Firethorn is a versatile plant that can be used to suit almost any need when it comes to home defense. Found in numerous varieties across the world, Firethorn is native to countries like India, Turkey, and France. Due to this wide array of climates, Firethorn thrives in most areas throughout the United States.
Firethorn includes sharp spikes along its branches and beautiful orange or red berries that appear in late summer. These berries are non-toxic in small quantities but keep them away from young children.
The combined aesthetic and defensive value of Firethorn makes it an excellent shrubby border along the perimeter of your home or under windows. It can also be trained along a trellis and fences or against walls.
Choosing the right set of thorny shrubs for home security does not mean sacrificing the aesthetic value of your garden. There are numerous bushes with thorns and spiky leaves to suit every style and setting. The critical part is setting up a defense system that works for you and your family by giving you an added peace of mind.
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