Imagining your gate

Some tips and ideas you could use to create your gate
Julie Chai

1. Tell a story

Your gate can convey something about you ― that you have a good sense of humor, for example, or that you love color or onions or wood, or that you have a fondness for old materials. While a gate may be a significant artistic element in its own right, it can also echo the design and color of your house, or an element of your garden such as a leaf, vine, blossom, or branch. To find a style that appeals to you, look for inspiration in books and magazines, and check out gates around your neighborhood.

2. Select appropriate hardware

Decide whether you want your gate to swing in, out, or both, and whether you'll need a lock. Use sturdy hinges and latches―the sturdier the better―to support the gate's weight and frequency of use. If you're not sure which hardware is most suitable to your gate's design, consult a professional gate builder or someone at your local hardware store.

3. Keep the gate in scale with its surroundings

If you have a small house and yard, don't choose a huge gate. Most garden gates measure about 36 inches across―wide enough for a wheelbarrow to pass through. The height will depend on how prominent you want it to be: An entry gate might be taller or shorter than the fence it intersects; a side gate could be the same height as the fence.