Garden Gates for Your Home

Maureen Gilmer sheds light on the advantages of having a gate for your home.
SH06F275YARDSMART June 26, 2006 _ A simple gate transformed with violet paint. (SHNS photo courtesy Maureen Gilmer)

SHNS_YardSmart06_26c

A simple gate transformed with violet paint. (Photos courtesy of Maureen Gilmer)

A simple gate transformed with violet paint. (Photos courtesy of Maureen Gilmer)
By: Maureen Gilmer

Highbrow designers call them portals. You also might hear them referred to as transitional spaces. In the language of the ordinary homeowner, they are, quite simply, gates.

Yet too often the gate is the last thing you consider when adding a fence to your home site. It should be among the first.

A gate is a functional outdoor doorway, but it can also be a bold artistic statement. The size, shape and material you choose for the gate can literally make or break the fence you have in mind.

If you are installing a low-cost board fence with little decoration, then use some of the money saved to give yourself a great gate. If it's in a side yard that's visible from the street or front garden, then a creative gate becomes an important part of the house's facade. As such its design should more reflect the architectural style of the building than match the fence boards. Or if the gate is a work of art, it can become a valuable accent to upgrade the overall landscape aesthetic.

SHNS_YardSmart06_26d

Front gates designed to stay closed should perfectly match the fence.

Front gates designed to stay closed should perfectly match the fence.

Not all fences are the six-foot barrier type. Shorter fences, usually pickets or wrought iron, are fully visible when they enclose front yards. The little gates that open onto the entry walk to the front porch are a focal point themselves and worthy of special consideration. They must match the fencing material perfectly and should be a bit more decorative because of the high-profile location. Their role is to call attention to this point of entry.

Some of these gates, however, are left open all the time, while others are left closed. Knowing how you'll be keeping your gate will guide you in choosing an appropriate design.

The width of a gateway, and therefore the size of the gate itself, is often governed by use. A side-yard gate may require a much wider opening, say a minimum of four feet, to move wheelbarrow, lawn mower or garbage cans through easily without dinging the posts. You can split this width and give yourself a saloon door-style gate that offers many more design options than one big gate. And double gates are lighter weight and less demanding of the hinge hardware and post footings.

Do not underestimate the importance of painted gates. You can upgrade an old rundown gate, or makeover a raw looking new one with color that will completely change its appearance. A bold effect is created when you paint with cobalt blue or crimson red. If those colors match trim on the house, the result is spellbinding.

Or you can try faux painting techniques to give a wood gate a mossy or rustic woodland patina. It's affordable and risk-free, too. If you don't like how it turns out, just paint it again.

Use creative hardware to dress up an existing gate. Rather than standard galvanized hinges and latches, spend time hunting for more decorative options. The rustic appeal of hand-hammered iron hinges from the blacksmith is a timeless look. You'll find a wide choice of strap hinges and other accent hardware at Wild West Hardware, www.wildwesthardware.com.

Try a transparent iron gate for a glimpse of the space beyond. The trick is to choose the gate first and then create a fence to match. You can use an authentic salvaged antique gate or a new one made to look just as old. These can be the shabby chic peeling white look or the old rusty patina that is so at home in old gardens. The benefit of reproductions is that they are less expensive to buy and more widely available. Though reproductions share that rusty appearance, rust has not had time to weaken the metal.

Rustic Gardens offers surprisingly affordable selections of antique and reproduction iron gates online www.arusticgarden.com.

The trick to really great gates is to make people want to go through them. When you get that right, nothing will present such a potent lure as the suggestion of what surprises lay beyond.

(Maureen Gilmer is a horticulturist and host of Weekend Gardening on DIY-Do It Yourself Network. E-mail her at mo@moplants.com. For more information, visit: www.moplants.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)

Next Up

How to Make a Garden Fence From Upcycled Pallets

Keep critters out of your garden with this inexpensive fencing alternative that can also serve as a planter.

What Is an English Garden?

Learn the elements of enchanting English gardens, and discover ways to translate that style to your yard.

How to Paint and Replant Concrete Planters

Spring, summer, winter or fall — the easiest way to majorly boost your curb appeal (without splashing major cash) is to give your front porch planters a makeover. Follow our tips to prep the surface for paint, then plant each pot with an eye-catching combo of thriller, spiller and filler.

How to Build a Horizontal-Plank Privacy Fence

See how we built a redwood fence on an angle to lend privacy to a sloping backyard.

HGTV Obsessed Episode 37: John Gidding

John Gidding, host of HGTV’s new/reboot show Curb Appeal Xtreme talks about ways to update exterior spaces. Then his co-host, Rachel Taylor, shares her favorite low-cost, high-impact outdoor upgrades.

Meditation Garden Plan

Use this landscape plan to create a private garden retreat that's perfect for a little quiet time, away from the stress of daily life. We've included one simple plan with eight distinct plant lists tailored to your specific region and climate.

Raised Bed Garden Design

Give your garden a lift with raised beds. Learn how to design and use these elevated growing areas.

How to Stain or Paint a Wood Fence

Proper maintenance like applying a fresh coat of paint or stain to your fence will help make it last longer and keep it looking great. Follow these tips and instructions to turn your tired, old fence into a backyard statement piece.

How to Design a Container Garden

Follow this simple design concept and boost the impact of your container gardens with plants of various sizes, textures and color combinations.

How to Make a Wood Planter Box With House Numbers

Up your curb appeal with this stylish planter featuring modern house numbers and a bold color.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.