How to secure your home without a security system – 8 expert ways

8 ways to deter intruders from your home without a security system

House exterior in beige
(Image credit: Katie Charlotte)

Securing your home without a security system is possible by implementing a
combination of practical measures and security hacks for when you're out of the house.

These home security tips should help you feel infinitely safer in your home, and more confident about leaving for longer periods of time.

Our experts have shared their top tips for securing a home without a security system. These ideas are mostly low-cost but can be highly effective at preventing a burglary

How to secure your home without a security system

Securing your home without a security system involves implementing security measures in and outside your home to cover all points of entry and house observation, as well as some tricks to deter intruders.

1. Strategic landscaping and lighting

uplit trees and garden path

(Image credit: Mike Jarman/Alamy Stock Photo)

While it may not seem the most effective deterrent for intruders, in fact tactical landscaping and lighting, especially in your front yard, can make life more difficult for home invaders, preventing them from taking action.

'A well-thought-out landscape can serve as a natural deterrent to potential intruders.' advises Rich Mullins, interior designer and owner of H2O Plumbing. 

Ben Gold, expert in home security and founder of Recommended Home Buyers says, 'Consider thorny plants as natural barriers to deter unwanted access.'

Rich Mullins adds, 'For instance, planting thorny bushes or dense shrubs beneath windows can create a formidable barrier. I once worked with a client who used carefully placed rose bushes near vulnerable entry points, effectively discouraging any unwanted visitors.' You can find rose bushes to plant in your front garden, such as this The Red Double Knock Out plant from Walmart

Additionally, overgrown bushes can provide intruders with a valuable hiding spot, making it more challenging for you or your neighbors to spot suspicious activity. Ben Gold recommends that, 'Properly trimmed bushes and trees, especially around windows, eliminate hiding spots.'

When it comes to lighting, Pete Evering at Utopia Property Management says, 'Outdoor lighting is like a friendly watchdog for your home, whether you're inside or away. When it's dark, well-lit areas around your house send a strong message to would-be burglars that your place is not an easy target. It makes them think twice before getting too close. 

'Bright lights create the impression that someone is watching or that your home is safeguarded by a security system. This makes burglars nervous and more likely to move on to an easier target. But outdoor lighting isn't enough.'

2. Secure windows and doors

Red front door

(Image credit: GettyImages)

'Strengthening your doors and windows is crucial for home security. Install solid core or metal doors, reinforce door frames, and use deadbolt locks. Consider adding window security film or laminated glass to make it harder to break in,' suggests Dave Roebel of Northeast Mechanical Services. We recommend these 2 piece Deadbolt Strike Plates from Walmart, and this Clear Security and Safety Shatterproof Window Film from Amazon.

Omer Reiner, realtor and president of FL Cash Home Buyers, LLC warns, 'Be sure that your doors and their locks are strong enough to be a deterrent. Hollow-core wooden doors are fairly easy to break, and sliding glass doors can be removed from their tracks in a jiffy as well. For those, get a wooden dowel that has been cut to the length of the stationary portion of the door and place it in the track. That will help deter a criminal looking for a quick entry.'

3. Motion activated lights

Exterior view of front door to house in the evening.

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

Invest in movement-activated lighting to discourage intruders and decorate visibility, such as garden security lighting.

Fantastic Handyman's locksmith and home security expert, Ivelin Hristov says, 'Instead of having the lights outdoors constantly on, install motion-activated ones around your house. This is actually one of the home security solutions that have earned a significant reputation for its effectiveness. The sudden flash of bright lights can startle and deter an intruder because burglars prefer privacy and will be deterred by well-lit properties.'

'Motion detector lights can be an effective deterrent. Install them around the perimeter of your home, especially near entry points,' adds Dave Roebel. 

4. Lighting timers

family room with white sofas

(Image credit: Jared Kuzia)

'Something I’ve recommended to many people are smart lights,' says Christenda Costa, CEO of Gadget Review. 'In addition to improving your home’s energy usage, smart lights can actually be used for security purposes. Say, for example, you are on a week-long vacation. You don’t want it to look like there is no one home, because that could make your home a target for burglary. So, your smart lights could be set up to automatically turn on at certain times to create the appearance of someone being home. Or, you could turn them on via your phone, even while away on vacation.'

You can even use this easy smart home feature for TVs and other electronic features that will create the illusion that you are home. 

Find these plug timers and outlet with timer at Amazon to set up your lighting timers to automatically work when you are away.

5. Security cameras

Security camera

(Image credit: Alamy)

Security cameras, whether real or fake, can be an excellent deterrent to intruders. Place security cameras strategically to cover vulnerable areas and deter intruders.

Home security expert, Ivelin Hristov says, 'While real security cameras are an excellent deterrent, they are often expensive. However, strategically placing some convincing fake cameras can also raise the suspicions of potential burglars. Usually, they wouldn’t be able to tell which ones are real and wouldn’t want to take the risk.' 

6. Window dressing

built in desk and window seat

(Image credit: Amy Bartlam)

Window covers are always an important home security measure in maintaining privacy since intruders are unable to assess the occupancies and weakness of the house, as well as meaning they don't spot your valuables. 

Roman Smolevskiy, owner of A+ Construction & Remodeling says, 'Keep your valuable possessions out of sight using curtains or blinds. This not only provides privacy but also prevents potential burglars from window shopping.'

When I leave my home for longer periods of time, I keep the blinds tilted upwards to keep people from seeing in, but open enough so they don't look completely closed during the day and so the light from lights on timers will be visible from outside.

For ground floor windows you can also install privacy films on your windows such as this Coavas Frosted Glass Window Film from Amazon.

7. Security signage

Security sign

(Image credit: Alamy)

'Displaying security signs and stickers can create the perception of security. Even without an active system, the mere presence of these signs can make potential intruders think twice,' suggests interior design expert, Rich Mullins. 'It's a cost-effective way to enhance your home's security. Remember, many burglars prefer easy targets, so the appearance of security matters.'

Even without having security cameras, you can suggest you have out of sight ones with signs (such as this Camera Video Surveillance System Warning from Walmart), or use dog theft prevention tips by using beware of dogs signs.

8. Build strong relationships with neighbors

White house with timber painted white

(Image credit: Interior design Salvesen Graham / Photography Simon Brown)

Rich Mullins explains, 'A strong sense of community can be your first line of defense. Get to know your neighbors and build trust. Having someone you can rely on to keep an eye on your property when you're away is invaluable. I've seen close-knit neighborhoods where neighbors formed strong bonds and effectively watched out or each other. Building a strong rapport with neighbors can be an effective security measure. Neighborhood watch programs and mutual alert systems can enhance overall safety.'

Home security expert, Ivelin Hristov suggests, 'If you're away for an extended period of time, ask a neighbour or a friend to park their car in your driveway or in front of your house occasionally. This will suggest that there’s someone in the house. There has actually been a survey conducted among inmates serving time for burglary in which almost all of them said that they’d hesitate to enter a house with a car parked outside. Also, ask them to collect your mail because a build-up of letters and packages can indicate that you’re away.'


What smart home devices can act as a security system?

What is an unexpected place you should burglar proof?

Roman Smolevskiy, owner, A+ Construction & Remodeling warns, 'Ground-floor AC units can be a vulnerable point of entry. Ensure they are well-secured from the outside.'

You should also make sure to use a padlock or smart garage door opener for your garage door since this is another vulnerable spot.

Whether you opt to use one or all of these security measures, this should effectively contribute to deterring your home from intruders. Ensure you have a safe in your home for your most valuable items, too.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.