How to add a garden gate into a fence

There are all sorts of reasons for adding a gate to a garden fence. You might want to let your children get into next door’s garden to play with their friends. Perhaps your newly landscaped garden has a new path. Whatever the reason, adding a new garden gate can be easily done without much hassle or expense.

A step by step guide to installing a gate

1. Pick your spot

Think through exactly how the gate is going to be used. Pay close attention to things on either side of the gate – this is where people will walk. If there was no fence, where would they want to walk to, and what would they want to get to once they are through?

2. Choose your gate size

What needs to get through the gate - children, people or a ride-on lawnmower? Make sure you’ve got a bit of wriggle room – you won’t want to scrape your car’s paintwork if it’s a tight fit.

3. Sketch out a plan

An accurate scale plan will help you visualise the outcome and may throw up any issues you hadn’t realised.
Now you’re ready to start cutting, digging, sawing, drilling and fixing.

4. Make the hole

Use the fence’s natural features to make your cut. If it’s a wooden side-by-side, overlapping or board-on-board fence, you might want to make the gate out of the panel you’ve cut. This is quite simple and can hide the garden gate to some extent. It also means you don’t have to go to the trouble and cost of buying a new gate that is the size you want.

When cutting, make sure that the horizontal brace boards are even and equally spaced so that the gate fits properly.

5. Lay out your gate posts

Don’t put them in the ground yet. First, make a slanted cut so that rain runs off the post tops. Then lay your gate and posts flat on the ground. This will allow you to fix the gate to the posts accurately.

It’s important to fix the gate to separate posts as this will reduce the amount of sag. If you attach it straight to the fence, the sag will probably increase significantly over time.

6. Do your fixings

First, screw on the hinges then do the latch – make sure there’s a 5mm gap as the wood will expand and contract with the seasons and weather.

7. Brace your gate

This is probably the bit you weren’t expecting. You’ll need to make your gate into a single structure while you erect it and attach it to the fence. If you put up the gateposts separately there’s a risk that the gate won’t fit the latch properly.

To make a brace, you create a Z-shaped frame with some 4” by 4” and screw it onto the gateposts and gate – this allows you to manoeuvre the gate without damaging it.

8. Get digging

Dig out your post holes – allow three feet of foundation for bigger gates. Then put your gate in the holes and prop it up, ensuring that it fits the existing fence as snuggly as possible. Now add some postcrete or other ready-mixed concrete and add water. You might want to do this in stages if the holes are deep.

9. Align your gate

Use the time while the concrete sets to align the gateposts as precisely as you can, as you will be able to move the wood around. Attach them to the rest of the fence and also adjust the hinges so that the gate has a smooth action and works as well as it can.

Leave the props up for 48 hours to let the concrete set - then you can step back and admire your handiwork.

Don’t forget to make sure that your wooden gateposts and fence are treated with wood preservative. Keep them in good condition by maintaining the wood each year.

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