Got mites on your bud? Get bigger bugs to eat them. Root aphids? You can drench your soil with micro-organisms to drown 'em out.
But human beings that sneak into your backyard and snip the flowers off your plants? There isn't a standard prescription for that one. That said, you shouldn't make things easy for would-be thieves—and you don't have to.
Read ahead for scarecrow tactics, stealth and monitoring tips, plus some advice on booby traps that will loosen the sphincter of anyone trying to get slippery with your sticky.
Keep your green out of sight
The easiest way not to get your plants topped is if no one knows you're growing in the first place. If a ripper can visually identify which house it is that's giving off that smell, it makes their job that much easier. So make sure your plants aren't in public view.
That said, keeping plants hidden isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds. Outdoor cannabis can get big—huge, in fact—given a little skill and luck.
Depending on the varietal you're growing, your plants can double and even triple in size during the flowering cycle—so plan and prune accordingly. If you've got a six-foot-tall fence, you'll want to make sure your plants are no taller than three feet in height when the days start to get shorter.
To achieve this, top your plants early and often—every couple weeks is a good guideline—to promote horizontal growth until you start to see your first bud crowns.
You are your own best scarecrow
Thieves often case targets before they act, cataloging when a mark's at home and away, so as to minimize the risk of interference when going for the heist. The first battleground in any war is intelligence—and you can throw off their information-gathering in a couple of ways.
First, make yourself visible at random times of the day. Chill on your porch with a book, do yard work, yell at the neighbors—not just at night, but also in the morning and afternoon. Thieves work days, too.
If your schedule doesn't allow for randomized scarecrow hours, you can always create the appearance of being at home. You don't have to go all Home Alone about it, but one simple trick is to bike or bus to work and leave a car in the driveway. Additionally, leaving house lights on at night will give the impression of wakeful activity. Basically, you want to make sure that potential crop toppers can't easily suss when you're around, or predict when you won't be.
Buy extra eyes
A good security camera will save you lots of time and sleep, and is the one piece of technology I can't recommend enough.
You'll want to find a camera with the following features: night vision for when things go bump; motion detection and alert so you can see what/who is interacting with your garden when you're not around; and web streaming capabilities to check on your plants in real time when you're on the go.
An adequate camera will set you back anywhere from $60-$200, depending on features like solar panels and fancy encasements.
If you're really paranoid about security, booby traps can add some extra peace of mind.
While it might be tempting to build something that will take down an uninvited guest—think leg traps, swinging log setups or improvised explosives—it's illegal to leave a live trap that could hurt someone. Plus, you don't want to accidentally kill your neighbor's cat when it wanders into your yard.
Alert traps, while less emotionally satisfying than giving a thief a black eye, are safer and more reliable than something intended to cause bodily harm.
I use a tripwire rigged up to a 108dB Piezo Buzzer—basically the same sound element that's inside a smoke detector, but louder and more aggressive—which is a quick and easy build, only requiring the aforementioned Piezo siren and tripwire, a 9-volt battery and a wooden clothespin outfitted with brass brackets. When activated, it shouts like a pissed-off car alarm.