Growing marijuana outdoors can be risky business, but a well constructed security system around your garden can help mitigate that risk and help you sleep at night. Part of choosing a great location for your outdoor garden means knowing which risks you face and your options for dealing with them.
Define the Risk
Before you start growing marijuana outdoors you need to evaluate what you are trying to keep out of your garden. Is your biggest concern hiding your outdoor grow from the prying eyes of people driving by on public roads? What about delivery men, meter readers, friends and relatives who might stop by? Have you considered utility workers trimming trees or servicing lines running next to or across your property? These workers use lifts and might see your outdoor garden from an elevated position. Maybe you live in a rural area and can place your plants away from your home, if so, now you have a whole new set of problems. How will you hide your garden from trespassing hunters and keep out the hungry wildlife? Once you know what you are up against, it’s time to construct a security system that will make growing marijuana outdoors a little less risky.
There are a million ways to secure a garden, but there are really only three kinds of security systems. The first is a visual barrier primarily meant to keep out prying eyes. Not everyone who spots your garden is going to turn you in or rob you, but you can’t take chances. What someone might do with this gem of gossip is beyond your control, so best to keep your garden to yourself. The second form of security system is a physical barrier meant to keep people or animals out. This could be a wire fence, a stone wall, or a moat of sharks with lasers. Remember, there is no such thing as a barrier that can’t be breached, but the harder it is for someone or something to get into your garden the better. The third kind is an alert system that lets you know that you have an intruder. Your solution could be low budget like patches of sand making it easy to detect foreign foot prints, or it could be advanced like video cameras or motion sensor alarms. If you’re going to be successful at growing marijuana outdoors, you’re going to want a system that incorporates at least some aspect of each of the three security methods
Creating a private space for your outdoor marijuana garden may take a little creativity and planning. Luckily you probably already have a lot of resources you need at your disposal. Using both natural and man-made visual barriers it’s usually not difficult to create a hidden space on your property.
First it’s important to consider which directions prying eyes are most likely going to be coming from. If the road runs in front of your house, odds are that this direction is your primary concern. Look around. What is already on your property that you can’t see through? Well for starters there is probably a house. Maybe there is a detached garage, a barn or some kind of wooden fence. How about a hedge of trees, a thicket of brambles, or rows of corn or bamboo?
Now look around at what could be moved if needed. How about a cargo container, an RV, or a ski boat? If you live in a rural area, what about a horse trailer, a stack of hay, or firewood? Start with things you already have on your property and think about how they could fit together to create a visual barrier.
When you have used all of the resources that are already on locations, think about what you still need and how you might create it artificially without it looking out of place. A stack of hay might be normal if you live on a farm or have livestock but it’s probably going to raise eyebrows if you live in the suburbs.
Many lumberyards sell prefabricated wooden fence sections that can be screwed to 4×4 posts to create at least a 6 foot high visual barrier. If you planned ahead, you could add a wire fence or trellis and plant ivy, honeysuckle or other fast growing leafy vines to hide your garden. The key here is to pick perennial plants that will create a thicker stronger barrier each year, rather than an annual that will die off in the winter.
My personal favorite I’ve seen used at a medical marijuana garden in Northern California. Privacy cloth was used to create a wall about 12 feet tall that filtered out 90% of the light and visibility. Unlike shade cloth that is easy to see through, this privacy cloth obscured all visibility unless you were standing right next to it. The beauty of the material is that it allows airflow to pass through helping to keep the buds from molding just before harvest. The grower used aluminum poly latches often used to secure greenhouse plastic and firmly anchored the cloth in place.
In northern California, medical marijuana gardens are so commonly hidden behind reed fences and redwood lattice that seeing fences of these materials is synonymous with seeing someone’s outdoor garden. Not the best way to hide your medical marijuana garden. That being said, in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, the visual barrier is often used more to stay in compliance with local medical marijuana regulation concerning visibility than it is meant to hide the activity itself.
There is a trick you can use to check the visual barriers around you garden. In the spring, mark the perimeter of your garden with bright colored survey tape about 10 feet off the ground. Stand in the driveway or wherever an intruder might be located and see if you can see any of the colored tape from different angles. You may be surprised what becomes visible when it grows from a seedling into a giant 10 foot plant.
In the end there is no surefire answer to creating visual barriers and they may not keep you and your garden completely safe. Just remember the more you work at keeping people from seeing what you’re hiding, the better off you’ll be.
While no physical barrier can ever be 100% effective at preventing entry, a solid physical barrier can keep an honest man honest, deter crimes of opportunity and slow even the most persistent intruder.
The most basic way to keep something in or out is with a fence or a wall. The advantage of walls is that they not only prevent entry but also help to keep out prying eyes. The downside of walls, is that constructing one strong enough to keep out thieves is probably going to be an expensive and laborious undertaking. The beauty of fences is that they go up fast and are relatively inexpensive. There are plenty of fencing materials available ranging from standard livestock fencing to wrought iron and concertina wire.
You can get as extravagant as you like with your physical barrier, but remember every fence or wall must have a gate, and a gate is only as strong as the lock. Between bolt cutters, wire cutters and a hack saw, there are very few gardens an imaginative thief can’t enter in minutes. Fences can be cut through, climbed over or squeezed under.
It’s important to point out that not all of your greatest threats come from thieves or law enforcement. Some of your most tenacious invaders may be hungry critters looking for dinner or a drink of water. Unfortunately, animals can be just as difficult to keep out as humans. According to the U.S. Department of agriculture a white tail deer can jump over a 15ft fence. This may be in extreme cases like being chased by dogs, but if you really want to keep out deer, plan on at least a 12 ft fence.
Have you been enjoying lunch in your garden and left even the smallest crumbs behind? If your garden is out in the woods, bears can be a real problem. Just so you are aware, in addition to eating or knocking down your marijuana plants, black bears will eat water lines, water timers, cans of spray paint and pretty much anything else left behind.
Rats, rabbits, wood chucks, gophers and any number of other critters will do their best to make your garden their buffet. If these critters are a concern in your area try a few feet of aviary or rabbit mesh fencing around the lower few feet of your garden. You can use any extra aviary wire under your planter boxes to help keep gophers out of your plants root zone.
I mentioned earlier a moat of sharks with lasers. While sharks, piranhas, and fire breathing dragons may be inconvenient, dogs will sure do the trick. If you’ve never seen a dog moat this is how it works. First build a secure fence around your garden that your guard dogs can’t get through. About 10 feet beyond the garden fence, build an additional fence encircling the garden. The 10 foot area between the two fences belongs to the dogs. Climb over the first fence and you’ve just entered dog land.
I love dogs and I’m 100% against any abuse of animals or training them to be overly aggressive. However, even a friendly dog will usually bark its head off when an intruder comes near their yard. The more aggressive the barking from the dog moat, the better. I should point out that if you’ve just placed your best friend between law enforcement and the only way into your garden, you may have just signed Fido’s death warrant. Cops are certainly not against shooting an aggressive animal that they deem to be standing between themselves and justice.
A healthy outdoor marijuana garden can turn into a jungle of plants so thick you may never know someone beside yourself has been there. A few little tricks and tools can help you determine if an intruder has been casing or stealing from your garden. These same tools may also save your ass if law enforcement has found your garden and plans to raid or to set up their own surveillance.
An inexpensive and age old method of detecting intruders is to place sand or loose soil strategically around the exterior of your garden. Any intruder’s footprints will be immediately visible, and if nothing else, you’ll have a much better idea of the wildlife you’re sharing the land with.
Motion activated game cameras are another great way to detect an intruder. Game cameras are designed to help hunters monitor animal activity on trails by taking either still or video images when the motion sensor is triggered. These cameras have come a long way in the last few years and have also come down in price. They may not stop you from getting robbed the first time, but once an intruder has been near the garden you’ll know about it when you check the images. With a little luck, you might even be able to figure out “who done it”. Just don’t do something stupid with the info and get yourself in even more trouble.
I’m guessing it would be pretty scary for a thief, if all of a sudden a motion sensor light kicked on. If your garden is near your house, you can use the high powered bulbs and light up the pace like the Fourth of July. If they don’t run like hell, maybe you’ll at least notice the light kicking on. If your garden is further from your house and lack of electricity is a problem, there are a few brands of solar powered motions sensor lights available. These are not nearly as bright, but still may scare someone off. The problem with motion sensor lights is they can be triggered by wildlife or even a breeze flowing through the leaves. Too much light on your plants can screw up their photo period and lead to flowering problems or hermaphrodites.
My personal low budget favorite is to create an array of wireless motion sensors around the garden. When triggered the motions sensors signal a 12 volt control unit up to a few hundred feet away. The control unit can either set off an alarm, tell you which sensor has been triggered, or if a phone line is available at the control unit, it can even call your cell phone. The beauty of these units is that they can be used anywhere because the motion sensors run on 9 volt batteries and the control unit can be rigged to run off a car battery.
From my experience, the most expensive alert system you could possibly buy is a dog. If you already have one, then you probably know what I‘m talking about. Between a lifetime commitment to buying dog food, vet bills and shoveling shit, a dog is certainly not a low budget alert system. That being said, if you can adopt a good dog, and give it a good home, I’m sure it wouldn’t mind letting you know when you have unexpected company.
Without a doubt, the end all be all of alert systems is video surveillance. If your budget is endless, go ahead and set up full time video surveillance with night vision that you can monitor from your laptop anywhere in the world. If you find a company that will set this up for your garden and keep their lips sealed, let me know. I’d love to send them business.
I think it’s appropriate to end this section by mentioning booby traps. While they can be fun to think about, it’s important to remember that marijuana is only a plant. A plant can always be grown again next year. Marijuana is not worth injuring and possibly killing someone over, and with a booby trap, that is the best outcome you could hope for. If a cop is even slightly injured with one of your booby traps, be sure they’ll lock you away for attempted murder.
There are few feelings better then a garden full of marijuana and knowing you have your bases covered. Use every tool you have to keep your garden safe against intruders. Hide the garden from view with visual barriers. Protect it from thieves and wildlife with secure physical barriers. At the end of the day relax, knowing you’ll be alerted if someone even gets near your garden.
Security Overview for Growing Marijuana Outdoors,