Protect More Than Your Plants This Winter

By Special Guest Blogger Constable Tom McKay, Crime Prevention Services, Peel Regional Police

As an avid gardener and crime prevention officer, the cooler temperatures and falling leaves reminds me that it’s time to take precautions to help better my chances that my garden, home and property survives the long winter months. For the gardener in me, this means prepping my lawn by applying a potassium rich fertilizing, clearing the lawn of its blanket of leaves and giving the grass a late season, “winter” cut that reduces the chances for matting – this generally means reducing the height of the lawn mower by a single stop and removing any excess clippings.

Along the way, I turn my attention to the garden. I remind myself to make sure that my trees and shrubs, particularly any newer plants and those near foundations, receive plenty of water to provide them the moisture that they will so desperately need in the coming months. I also carefully hill roses and otherwise insulate my garden by working with a nature to maintain a mulch of leaves over my planting beds. I also like to help reduce the exposure to wind and its drying affect by protecting finer woody plants such as a small calibre Japanese Maple with a protective burlap screen. Finally, I like to get a head start on spring by removing any dead or frost damaged plants.

This approach also serves me well as a Crime Prevention Officer, given that our motto is to “Anticipate the Preventable”. In this regard, I urge homeowners to take the following precautions when it comes to addressing their grounds.

  • Take advantage of gates on the property by keeping them locked while not in use. Something as simple as a locking your gate can deny a would-be burglar easy access to an otherwise difficult to access yard. This can help to keep them out of less public areas of your property where opportunities generally abound.
  • Next, make sure that outdoor furniture is put away for the season or otherwise secured so that it cannot be used as a step-ladder for gaining access to otherwise inaccessible windows. The same can be said of extension ladders, which are sometimes stored outside. Extension ladders can make even the most remote window accessible.
  • Now, scan your property for any opportunities presented by rocks lying about the property. Baseball sized rocks, commonly referred to as river rock, can present a weapon of opportunity which can readily be used to break glass. Larger rocks such as armour stone can literally give criminals an inadvertent leg-up. Look for these at vulnerable locations such as next to a gate or beneath a window. The large rock found next to the gate in the photo can be used to scale an otherwise difficult to climb gate, the top of which is found to the right of the rock. For an added measure of security and pop of colour, a rose bush can be planted in its place.
  • Finally, don’t forget about securing doors to your garage or shed. These will help to keep would-be burglars and thieves out of vulnerable spaces which in the case of the garage may offer further access to the home.

By building on the many good habits developed as a gardener you cannot only winterize your garden but protect your home.