With an organization in Springfield training residents for an “eyes on the street” initiative I thought I’d share the changes I’ve made over time to the exterior of my home to enhance security for it and for the neighborhood.
When I first moved in the bushes in the front were beautiful, but they were overgrown and limited visibility to and from the street. The neighborhood crossing guard told me that the police had needed to poke the bushes with sticks on more than one occasion to be sure some fugitive was not hiding in them.
On the day I moved in I “limbed up” the bushes to waist height so that they no longer worked as a hiding place.
I have since removed the bushes and replaced them with a little patio, some inexpensive outdoor furniture, and some potted plants.
I had the trim painted, and the soffit repaired. I repainted the foundation and scraped and repainted the decorative iron fence in the front as well:
I did make a few mistakes. I bought some really nice…somewhat small-ish planters…which only lasted about a week before they were involuntarily gifted to someone in the community!
See the two on the right? Too small!
The other problem area was the alleyway running down the north side of the house. There were 3 horrible looking evergreens barely clinging to life, but doing an incredible job of making the alley an almost perfect hiding place. I removed the trees, replaced them with some flowers, painted the foundation to improve the overall look, added some solar powered motion sensor lights, and, recently, put in a little “nuisance fence”.
Together these changes have made a huge difference in the appearance of my home.
Quite a few people thought it was crazy to “lose the privacy” the bushes created, but right from the beginning I knew that living happily in this neighborhood was going to require engaging with it, not hiding from it. Some people even questioned removing the dying trees from the alleyway, as they believed that making it more beautiful would attract, instead of discourage, ne’er do wells. I keep my outdoor tools in the little backyard we have, there is also a garden and some nice (nicer) outdoor furniture and I am always pleasantly surprised in the morning when I go out back and find that it is all still there and undisturbed!
Our house looks like the people who live inside it just might care about what goes on not just in, but around it. I don’t think it makes us or our home impervious to mischief, but I do believe it is a more successful strategy than giving the impression that we live in fear.
Here is a better photo of just how hidden the front and side of the house were before I opened it up: