Building an Effective Perimeter Defense for Your Home

Effective home defense is challenging, to say the least. The basic problem, as with any defensive situation, is that the attacker has the initiative. They get to choose the when, where and how of their attack. This leaves you with the unenviable job of having to develop a defense that covers just about any possibility. Adding the possibility of having to defend your home in the wake of a disaster, when law and order can break down, just adds another layer of complexity to an already complex task.

Perimeter defenses are passive defensive measures, so there is only so much that they can do. Unless you are willing to put up with the unsightliness and expense of a 20 foot tall cement wall, with a moat and guard towers, you really can’t count on any perimeter defense being able to keep everyone out. But you can create a perimeter defense which limits the options of any attackers or invaders, making it easier to defend your home.

You’ve Got to Be Careful

The laws in most states allow for the use of deadly force in self-defense and in the defense of others. But for it to be considered self-defense there has to be what is known as, “imminent threat of life and limb.” In other words, you or someone close to you has to be in a position where a bad guy is able to attack you in such a way as to kill or seriously injure you.

Generally speaking, if someone is in your home, facing you, with a weapon in their hand, acting in an aggressive manner, you can say that you are in imminent threat of life and limb. But you can only do so, as long as all those conditions are met. If the bad guy drops his weapon or turns away, you are no longer at risk. Shooting them at that point is not considered justifiable. You would go to court for that and unless you could prove that you were still at risk, you would probably go to jail.

It’s real hard to say that you’re at imminent risk of life or limb if the potential attacker isn’t even on your property. Someone down the street, with a rifle in their hands, isn’t generally considered a risk, even if they point that gun in your direction. About the worst that they could be charged with is “brandishing a firearm.” They wouldn’t legally be considered a risk unless they first took a shot at you.

Having a perimeter defense around your home can help with this, in that it clearly defines your property. If someone is within your perimeter with a weapon, acting in a threatening manner, you would be able to say that they are a threat, just as if they were in your home. This is especially true during times of social unrest or if it were a gang of potential criminals.

Making Your Perimeter Work

As I already alluded to, it is virtually impossible to create a perimeter that is impenetrable. The best fence in the world can’t stop a determined criminal. There is always a way over, under, around or through your perimeter. About all you can do is make things more difficult for them.

Since you can’t completely keep people off your property, what you really want to do is create one easy access to your property, while making everything else difficult. Human nature dictates that people will take the easy way, when given a choice. So by providing one easy way to gain access to your property, you control how they gain access to your property. By doing this, you can cause them to enter where they will be highly visible to you and where you can set up an ambush to defend your home from any attack.

In most cases, this would be the front walkway, heading for the front door. By funneling any attackers there, you are forcing them to pass in front of your windows and any security cameras you might have. At the same time, if you are forced to actively defend your home, the attackers will be in a place where you will probably have a lot of windows to shoot from, without having to open your front door.

Nobody can come up my front walkway, without me seeing them from the windows of my office on the second floor. Since I spend more time in the office, than anywhere else in the home, I am able to keep watch, while doing my work. The perimeter helps in ensuring that anyone approaching my house does so in a way that I can see.

Attackers are most likely to try and breach the front of your home, rather than the back. Having to pass through someone else’s fenced yard, with the chance of disturbing their dog, makes the backyard an unpopular entryway. So the bulk of your risk is the front yard. Nevertheless, you still want a good fence in the back as well, along with some security cameras if you can.

Building the Perimeter

At some point in time, it’s all going to come down to building the perimeter itself. This means creating an obstacle that is difficult to get through. The most common obstacle used is a fence. But fences really aren’t all that hard to scale. Wood “privacy fences” are built with crossbars, which can be used to climb over and chain link fences have lots of holes that can be used as toeholds.

A wrought iron fence, with spear-point tops, is a much better choice, although because they are usually custom-made, they are very costly as well. In Mexico, they use broken glass on the tops of cement walls around their homes. While the broken glass makes a great deterrent, I’m not sure that it is legal here.

Probably the most effective, while still low-cost option you can do is to plant a hedge. A three to four foot tall hedge, a couple of feet thick, is hard to drive a car through, let alone trying to get through on foot. This becomes even harder, if you interweave the branches as the bushes are growing, so that there is no way to get between the plants. Choosing a plant which has thorns is useful as well, as it makes the idea of going through or over the hedge that much more unappealing.

Extending the hedge on either side of the walkway, so that they have to stay on it, makes it even more effective. They are in a very limited area, where they are exposed. This would give them a huge disadvantage if it came down to a fight.

Alarm Your Access Points

Unless you can sit and watch your access points 24/7, there will be times that an intruder can get through them, without you knowing about it. That is, they’ll be able to do that unless you alarm those access points in some way.

The easiest way to alarm access points is with a laser tripwire. You will want the tripwire to set off an alarm that you can hear inside the house, so that you can react. Whether or not you make it so that they can hear it is up to you. If they can, it might chase them off. But on the other hand, it might cause them to rush their attack so that you don’t have time to prepare.

The other useful alarm is pets. Dogs are extremely good at watching out for intruders on your property. A dog that barks at everything that moves isn’t a nuisance, but rather a good watchdog. Their territorial nature and sensitivity to anything that moves can be a very effective part of your defenses.

Finally, Have a Defensive Plan

While a well made perimeter is a useful part of your defenses, it is only part of them. At some point in time, you’re going to have to be ready to take up arms in defense of home and family. What the perimeter does is make that job easier by controlling the aggressor.

You should have certain reactions that you plan on doing, any time the dogs bark or the perimeter alarm goes off. The great majority of the time it will be nothing more serious than a neighborhood cat, some friends coming to visit or school kids selling candy as a fundraiser. But you won’t know that it is a benign visit, until you check. So you have to check, each and every time.

At the same time, you have to be ready to defend your home. So don’t check by opening the door, but rather by looking through the corner of a window that overlooks the path from your perimeter access to your front door. That way, if it is someone with malicious intent, you won’t have just opened the door to them.

I always check the door armed; but then, I typically go around armed in my home. So, even though I don’t hold a gun on people coming through my door, I am ready to deal with them, if it turns out they have come with criminal intent. However, if I feel that they might be a threat, I unholster my gun and hide it behind my leg. That way, I’m ready for anything.