Thieves don't like fences because these structures make it difficult to enter a property, and even harder to haul stuff away. If you decide to fence our yard, you'll have several decisions to make:

Height - Choose a fence tall enough to impede anyone trying to get into your yard; a minimum of 40 inches is recommended.

Style - Look for a style solid enough to be a deterrent but open enough to allow visibility. Tall privacy fences, for example, can actually be inviting to an intruder: Once scaled, the fence provides excellent cover.

Legal requirements - City codes and, where applicable, association covenants often dictate height, style, and placement of fences. Make sure your fence meets the requirements. And, have your lot surveyed before the fence is installed to be sure it's installed within your property lines.

Homegrown Protection

Thorny hedges, dense shrubbery, and even rose bushes planted along the property line can create a barrier that most intruders won't want to cross. Just remember to keep your plantings trimmed for a specific plantings that will work best for you depend on the growing conditions in your area, but here's a sampling of popular prickly plants.

Barberry - A large group of dense, spiny shrubs used widely for hedge plantings, most barberries have small, bright yellow flowers, either single or in clusters and borne in great profusion. Many are decorative all winter. Deciduous barberries have deep red fall color.

Hawthorn - Tough, thorny hawthorn has delicate clusters of white or pink flowers in spring, glossy green foliage, orange to red fall color, and scarlet or yellow fruits.

Rose shrub - Tough but beautiful, roses are an elegant way to deter prowlers. Roses, however, can be fussy plants. Talk to the staff at your local gardening center to find the hardiest varieties for your area.