Defensive Planting

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by ditch witch, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    Since Brokor started that plant thread I got plants on the brain so thought I'd make a thread on landscaping for security. I used to work for a greenhouse/nursery/feed store and we did a lot of landscaping. Sometimes we'd get requests for burglar unfriendly landscaping that didn't look, well, unfriendly. Of course everyone thinks of roses and cacti, but there are a lot of other unpleasant options out there and quite a few are hot with landscape designers right now.

    For attractive shrubs with lots of pokey bits, you can't beat the Berberis. Commonly called Barberry, these come in numerous colors and all feature nasty little barbs. Virtually pest and maintenance free, perfect for foundation plantings, hedges, or specimen plants and with spectacular fall color and bird attracting berries, these have become rather commonplace in landscaping for several years now. Attached are pics of Emerald and Burgundy Barberry and a closeup of the thorns.

    barberry.JPG barberrythorns.JPG

    Ilex is another good species. Nearly all Hollies are pokey but IMO hands down the worst is the Chinese Holly. The Blue Hollies (Princess) are also pretty evil. This evergreen is VERY slow growing so cough up the money to buy the largest ones you can, and stick them under windows. Hollies are pretty hardy but do suffer fungus and canker rot so good air circulation is important for them.


    Closely related to the Berberis, Mahonia is an evergreen shrub with poky leaves and edible berries. Native to China, Japan and Taiwan, it can be found all across the US. Grows in partial shade or full sun and is drought tolerant. Leatherleaf Mahonia is actually considered an invasive plant by the National Park Service but any nursery that buys from Monrovia can get them for you.
    Pictured is Leatherleaf and Japonica.
    leatherleaf mahonia.JPG japonica mahonia.JPG

    A good one to train to a trellis is Pyracantha, though it will happily form into a bushy shrub on its own. Covered in spines, this evergreen can go up to 20 ft tall and puts out red berries in the fall that the birds love but you not so much unless you like intestinal distress. These things can become impenetrable if you let them.
    pyrecantha espillered.JPG pyhedge.JPG pythorns.JPG

    This is just a small sampling of plants that can be incorporated around the house that will not only deter unwanted visitors, but keep the neighbors happy with their aesthetics.
    Dallanta, Hanzo, jlutzcurtis and 14 others like this.
  2. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    Great post ! I've used brambles and wild blackberries to deter teenagers from one of their party spots before. By the time they notice them the area is so overgrown with thorny stalks the just move on and find another spot.

    Wish I could use cactus. Too far north tho. [tongue]
    kellory, Yard Dart and Dawg23 like this.
  3. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    There are cacti that are hardy to -25, including an Opuntia that can go to zone 3, but in generally they're small and not much use for defensive planting. An exception is Opuntia Imbricata. Aka Colorado Tree Cholla. Anywhere from 60" to 72" tall depending on variety. Hardy to zone 5, -25 degrees. It is _nasty_. I used to have to propagate chollas and they suck.

    Actually most Chollas will go that far. Buckhorn Cholla, Devil's Cholla, lots to choose from. There's also a strain of prickly pear that's been grown as far north as Idaho and Mississippi but I've never seen it for sale.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
  4. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    @ditch witch Interesting, Looks like I have some research to do.
  5. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    @NotSoSneaky easiest thing to do is get a few pads of prickly pears and see if they'll grow. Best way to start them is put them in the dark for a few weeks to harden off a bit, then plant 'em in the spring after danger of frost. Water them so the roots will start... contrary to popular belief they love water when it's warm outside. When winter comes, stop watering. A cacti full of water coming into a freeze is a dead, rotted one soon after. Let them go bone dry... the added bonus is cacti double up on thorns when in a drought. Even thornless Nopals will sprout a few if they're dying of thirst.
  6. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I have read where prickly pear is edible. No experience there, but I've got more experience than I want removing spines from ankles.
  7. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    There's a guy near me who makes what he calls Texas Tequila, using the ripe fruits off them. Stuff is pretty dang good! You can also eat them, as well as the pads. They grow spineless Nopals for commercial production. They sell them at my local grocery store, entire pads are already diced up in bags. I think it tastes like crap and is slimy like boiled okra, but my neighbor loves them with scrambled eggs.
    AmericanRedoubt1776 likes this.
  8. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    That's one reason I like so many pine trees on our place, screws up Google Maps, can't even see one of our outbuildings ;) And that's the ONLY reason I like them. Hate cleaning up the needles/cones every year. I have tried growing blackberries along our back fence line to keep deer out, but no luck so far. Oh well.
    AmericanRedoubt1776 likes this.
  9. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

    Sittin here listening to the pine cones the tree rats are knocking off land on the roof..
  10. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I used agave as fencing in California. It is sharp, tall. Wide, and no one messes with agave, the pulp will give you a chemical burn, (though refined, it is used in lotions) in the raw state. It grows easily and requires no real maintaince.
  11. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    The only problem I have with agave is that if it isn't already growing around you, it's expensive to buy and grows incredibly slowly. Had some variegated Americanas at my old place and in five years they barely grew an inch.
  12. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I transplanted it from a large clump, and once in place fertilized and watered it, it filled in the entire fence line in less than a year.
  13. AmericanRedoubt1776

    AmericanRedoubt1776 American Redoubt: Idaho-Montana-Wyoming Site Supporter+

    Here is what I found:
    Fair Use Source: p. 15, James Wesley Rawles' Rawles on Retreats and Relocation: Rawles James Wesley: Books

    "Plant several rose bushes or thorny Bougainvillea vines (in warm climates) beneath each window. ("Don't those look lovely!") Bush roses and climbing varieties can be used in various ways to defend your home. (But if you do, don't forget that you'll need to keep scraps of carpeting or heavy blankets handy so that your family members can use bedroom windows as escape routes in event of fire or a home invasion.)"​
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2015
  14. ditch witch

    ditch witch I do stupid crap, so you don't have to

    @kellory... depends on the variety. And clearly it grows well where you are. Where I am, not so much. The Yuccas dominate here. YMMV for all plants depending on locale.

    Except for nutgrass. I suspect that $*)(@!# will grow from Iceland to Columbia.
    kellory likes this.
  15. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I WAS in the area of Eagle Rock California (twenty years ago) I'm back home in Ohio now.
  16. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

    Glad to see this subject come up.. Have been considering how to landscape some of the property to direct people as I would like them to go and slow them down when needed..
  17. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

  18. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep

    Nice Thread!!
    Roses are the only non-bearing plant I have installed in my front yard this year!
    I planted 40 rose bushes this year around the perimeter of the property 6 feet apart, I'm going to root the cut back stems over the winter in wet news paper and put one in the middle of the others and replace the ones that failed (about 5). By the time they get 4 feet tall and three feet wide they'll be pretty intimidating and a nice addition to the barbed wire strands that surround our property.
    My Passion fruit vines that were 3" tall when I planted them 3 months ago are 10 feet long now with other vines shooting off between 5-8 feet long. By this time next year they'll be around 50 feet long and 10 feet high covering my Workshop. I plan on letting them overgrow the roughly 4,000 feet of fencing that surrounds my 8.5 acres. Should be a nightmare to get through as well.
    Goats shouldn't be able to keep up with these!
    Yard Dart, kellory and ditch witch like this.
  19. Dont

    Dont Just another old gray Jarhead Monkey Site Supporter+++

    Don't the deer like roses??? MMMmmm deer!!
  20. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Bud is planting Eastern Cedars 4' apart and cutting them off at 6' high. Between them he is "planting " 6"X6"s 18" deep and leaving them 2' high. Should be an effective traffic stopper and channeling tool. Most are 75-80 yards from his home.
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    I love these [IMG]
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