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Defensive Landscape Bushes or Plants to Consider

Fellow Patriots,

I was recently supporting a fellow Patriot building his security plan that included the use of barberry bushes as a defense barrier as well as a deterrent to persuade a threat from crossing a specific defined line. Have you considered the use of plants, trees or bushes as a layer of security in your plan? It is something you may wish to think about. They are not just a great barrier to slow or stop a threat, they are also cosmetically appealing in most cases.

You could also consider adding these on to an existing plan as well. They are great for approach routes you are trying to close or cut off. By placing these plants under a window or deck can also help block or slow down an intruder. And of course around your perimeter. If you are trying to stop an intruder from crossing your fence, the placement of a good barberry bush outside the fence could change the mind of the potential threat. When planning, you should also take in to consideration what hardiness zone you will be planting and growing the plant. Different regions for different plants.

First, let me provide you a national map for USDA Hardiness Zones to help identify which bush, tree or plan is best in what area.

Here's different plants to consider if you are building your security plans.

1. Agave:

Native to Mexico and the southwestern US, this spiky slow-growing succulent is suitable for growers in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11.

You can find different types of Agave plants in the Agave family. Different sizes and heights to support your security planning needs and wants. The location you plan to place the plant should help you decide which in the Agave family you decide to use.

If you have children or pets you may wish to take this in to consideration as to what you get and how and where you plan to place it.

Americana Agave

This agave is one of the most notorious landscape agaves. It produces a lovely inflorescence (flower) and then the main plant dies, leaving behind pups or offsets.

The American agave or American aloe, as it is also called, has a white stripe running down the center of the leaves. It is a warm season agave only.

A person selecting the agave plant as a security barrier may wish to do their homework to research eventual full growth size before placing in a permanent home. As previously stated, year round climate is also very important to the long term survival and your initial investment.

2. Barberry

The genus Berberis includes over 400 different species of evergreen and deciduous shrubs with varying heights of three to 10 feet.

The barberry is a tough, shade tolerant, drought resistant, and hardy bush. Primarily most tolerant to Zone 4, barberry grows in almost any type of soil and requires minimal care and maintenance to survive. This, along with the eventual size and width makes the barberry bush a great security enhancement around a property.

Some non-native species are considered invasive and growing them is banned in some states, so be sure to check your local bylaws before you plant. Also note that not all varieties have thorns.

Barberry Bush Spikes

Dependent on which side of the bush you are on, the spikes produced by the barberry bush makes it attractive as a security addition to your plans.

As mentioned with the agave plants, if you have small children and/or pets around, you may wish to give caution when selecting this bush and how it is used.

Barberry Burning Bush

The Japanese Burning Bush is a common and more popular bush from the barberry family. When in bloom the Japanese barberry bush is very appealing to the landscape. I have personally brushed against one of these bushes while mowing the lawn and it got my attention for certain. They grow to a nice height and width as well.

There are a number of cultivars that are well-suited to hedging. The three- to four-foot-tall varieties make a very useful barrier along the sides of driveways or walkways, and even as a perimeter hedge, allowing visibility over the top. They also work great in vulnerable corners and property areas possibly not in camera coverage.

3. Blackthorn

This bush/tree bring beauty from afar until you stick your hand between the limbs to grab a sloe. Ouch. Some folks enjoy picking the sloe to add to their gin, however it is normally not without pain from the thorns. The thorns stick out at right angles on the intertwined branches and can be up to two inches long.


Suitable for growers in Zones 4-8, blackthorn shrubs can grow up to 10 feet tall, and with minimal pruning can create a formidable barrier around the perimeter of a property. Alternatively, it can be pruned into a neat but dense and impenetrable hedge. Fast-growing blackthorn will tolerate almost any soil, and is somewhat salt-tolerant. Once established, it needs very little care except regular moisture – so it’s not suitable for very dry areas without additional irrigation.

4. Common Holly

This evergreen shrub is both frost and drought tolerant and often referred to as the Christmas holly from native England and Europe.

The leathery, dark green, glossy leaves have spiny margins, which readily attach to clothing, or tear skin. The dense, prickly leaves make holly an ideal hedge, and being evergreen, it looks good all year round.

Suitable for growers in Zones 5-9, common holly is easy to grow in full sun or part shade locations. It’s fast-growing, and with regular pruning will quickly provide you with a spiny, impenetrable barrier to protect your perimeter.

Most of the 200 holly variants produce bright red berries that are toxic to humans and pets, so bear this in mind when deciding where to plant.

Holly is tolerant of most soil conditions, although it will require regular moisture. To keep plants looking their best, an application of balanced, slow-release fertilizer once a year in spring is recommended.