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Garden Gate Design: 10 Iron Entryways with Curb Appeal

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Garden Gate Design: 10 Iron Entryways with Curb Appeal

January 9, 2018

An iron gate makes a strong statement—and the best designs provide security without forfeiting curb appeal.

As a starting point, there are some standard rules for designing a garden gate:

  • Width: A gate opening should be at least least 3 feet wide for comfortable single-file egress. A 4-foot opening is better if you need to push a lawn mower or trash cans through the gate. A 6-foot opening will allow visitors to walk side by side up a path.
  • Single vs. Double Gates: A single-panel garden gate should not be wider than 4 feet (at wider widths, it may be so heavy it sags on its hinges). For wider openings, use a pair of gates.
  • Gate Swing: Front gates (and driveway gates, for that matter) should swing into your property, not outward into public space unless your walkway or driveway is on a steep slope.

The design rules for garden gates offer plenty of opportunity for to get creative. The other day our contributor Britt Willoughby Dyer went sleuthing for ornamental ironwork and came back with 10 stylish examples of front gates that make a statement—without making visitors feel unwelcome:

Photography by Britt Willoughby Dyer.

Historical Hues

Before a fast-drying black paint was invented in the \1930s, iron gates in England were likely to be painted cheerier colors: green, gray, or red.
Above: Before a fast-drying black paint was invented in the 1930s, iron gates in England were likely to be painted cheerier colors: green, gray, or red.
: A paint color reminiscent of &#8\2\20;Sissinghurst Blue&#8\2\2\1; softens a steely message.
Above: : A paint color reminiscent of “Sissinghurst Blue” softens a steely message.

To find more historical hues to enliven modern ironwork, Kendra went sleuthing in the streets of London. See the results of her detective work in Paint Colors for Iron Gates and Fences.

Five-Bar Bracing

&#8\2\20;A five-bar field gate with diamond bracing, shrunk down for a domestic setting, lends a garden a rustic, solid air,&#8\2\2\1; writes Jane in Get the Look: The English Garden Gate, \10 Ways.
Above: “A five-bar field gate with diamond bracing, shrunk down for a domestic setting, lends a garden a rustic, solid air,” writes Jane in Get the Look: The English Garden Gate, 10 Ways.

Mixed Materials

Metal pickets and a wooden frame lend a friendlier look to a security gate.
Above: Metal pickets and a wooden frame lend a friendlier look to a security gate.

Fanciful Finials

A finial is the decorative element at the top of a spire. Styles can range from balls to buttons to finials shaped like pineapples, crowns, acorns, or other objects.
Above: A finial is the decorative element at the top of a spire. Styles can range from balls to buttons to finials shaped like pineapples, crowns, acorns, or other objects.

A decorative finial softens the “keep out” message without sacrificing security.

Chicken-Wire Casual

An overlay of chicken wire adds a a lacy layer to a sturdy metal gate.
Above: An overlay of chicken wire adds a a lacy layer to a sturdy metal gate.

You can get a similar effect with a layer of hog wire. See the look in Hardscaping 101: Hog Wire Fences.

Scrolled Spires

Scrollwork makes even an impregnable gate look friendly.
Above: Scrollwork makes even an impregnable gate look friendly.

Ornamental scrolls can be loose, tight, pointed, flared, leafy, snakelike—or any other shape you can imagine. The more distinctive, the more likely a scroll is to distract a visitor from a gate’s implacability.

Looking for the right words to describe a gate&#8\2\17;s anatomy? A gate&#8\2\17;s vertical bars are called spires or pickets.
Above: Looking for the right words to describe a gate’s anatomy? A gate’s vertical bars are called spires or pickets.

Mossy Stairs

Moss adds an instant patina of age.
Above: Moss adds an instant patina of age.

Tip: Mossy risers will add texture and an air of antiquity (but keep the moss off the treads to avoid slip-and-fall injuries). See more design ideas at Hardscaping 101: Entry Stairways.

Double Duty

For an opening wider than 4 feet, a double-panel gate reinforces a symmetrical garden design.
Above: For an opening wider than 4 feet, a double-panel gate reinforces a symmetrical garden design.

Stony Companion

iron garden gate by Britt Willoughby Dyer

Above: The filigree of a thin iron gate complements the bulk of a stone wall.

Unhinged

The perfection of imperfection; this wabi-sabi gate exudes strength through fragility.
Above: The perfection of imperfection; this wabi-sabi gate exudes strength through fragility.

N.B.: Are you installing a new garden gate (or upgrading an old one)? See more design ideas:

Finally, learn how to successfully design a fence for any landscape or garden project with our Hardscaping 101: Fences & Gates guide.

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