Consider the impact a garden gate can make when it’s beautiful, functional and perfectly at home in its setting. More than just an entryway, a well-designed gate helps establish and emphasize a garden’s style, whether grand and formal or simple and welcoming. Crowned with a lush bower of vines in bloom, it exudes gentle, old-world charm. Fashioned from wrought iron and flanked by stone pillars, it speaks of roses, fountains and clipped boxwood hedges. Likewise, a gate can be designed for privacy and security or can offer tantalizing glimpses of the sanctuary within.
Historically, garden gates were made of iron or wood, but today’s gardener can choose any material that’s sturdy and sufficiently waterproof. Glass, copper piping, driftwood, bamboo, sheet metal and recycled material all lend themselves to one-of-a-kind creations. A gate crafted of reclaimed wood gives the garden instant rustic flair, while one built around an old iron bed frame hints at whimsy, innovation and a touch of mischief.
A successful gate also complements the style of other elements in its setting, including the fence and architecture of the house. It is a garden’s grace note, often the first feature to greet and delight visitors, and the last to send them on their way.
More than just a pretty face, a garden gate must stand up to rigorous wear and tear. If you’re designing one, follow these tips to ensure it will be sturdy, long-lasting and functional.
- Make the gate at least one metre wide to allow the passage of wheelbarrows and other large gardening equipment.
- Mount it on pressure-treated posts or other pillars that have been sunk to a sufficient depth (below the frost line) and footed in concrete.
- This step is crucial: if a post moves even a little, the gate will become crooked and won’t open and close properly.
- Add a cross-brace to prevent sagging.
- Choose a level location. If a sloping site is unavoidable, leave at least 7.5 centimetres between the highest point of the ground and the bottom edge of the gate.
- Use appropriately sized galvanized hardware (hinges, latches and screws).
The following pages feature different types of gates. Do any of them match your garden's style?