Garden Gates

A door in a brick-walled garden in Somerset, England, with a pink hydrangea and a brick path.

Garden gates offer landscapes and gardens the opportunity to make a great first impression when greeting visitors to the property. English, Italian, Asian and American designers have all placed their design stamp on the functional gate, and today's landscapers and gardeners have a wide variety of styles to choose from.

Garden Gate Styles

Often, the style of your garden fence or wall dictates the style of your gate. But the gate is a special feature in and of itself. No matter what the design or style, the gate and gateway is the entrance to your domain and it should add to the style of your surroundings, not detract from them.

English Gates - Most of today's homes are not castle-like in appearance, but the English style gate has its origins in medieval castles whose imposing entranceways made an overpowering and grand impression on those who entered. Tudor-style homes still boast scaled down versions of these gates and gateways. Usually, the gateway is sided with large stone pillars. As a decorative touch, basins or perhaps gargoyles May stand on the pillars that might even sport an arch or be topped with ornamental statues. The gate itself might be better described as a garden door,made of heavy English oak.

More modern takes on the English gateway might be to use glazed brick instead of stone or to use narrow stone flanks decorated with very simple stonework that might take the shape of a flower or wreath. Often garden walls are constructed well within the property to divide sections of the garden. A simple brick gateway with an arch might lead from the formal garden to the kitchen herbal garden for example.

Metal Gates - Wonderfully ornate and decorative gates are made of wrought iron, and the design possibilities for these are many. Wrought iron gates are made by heating iron until is is malleable and molding it into different shapes. They can even be customized to display initials or a family crest. Wrought iron gates add a classic look to any garden. Frequently, there are two gates that latch in the middle of the gateway. These gates go well with stone or brick walls and could be employed in a grand style at the front of the home and perhaps a less showy design for the garden entrance. These gates also come in brass, aluminum, and steel and can be left natural or painted. Metal gates are durable, strong, and rust-resistant. Again, the gate design should compliment the style of the house. Intricate wrought iron gates tend to compliment Victorian style houses and gardens.

Lych Gates - Another take on English gates are lych gates, derived from the roofed gates used in many medieval gardens. Lych gates have large overhanging eaves and, at one time, were only used at entrances to churchyards. Today, they can be found on semi-formal estates and even suburban gardens.

Italian Gates - Used especially gateways to courtyard gardens, Italian gates are often showy with wrought iron in intricate designs. These gates may be flanked by painted or stucco-applied pillars beset with urns or ornate statuettes. Such gates and gateways are often found in large manor houses or villas.

American Gates - Greatly influenced by English styles, these gates take a simpler design approach and are usually found reduced in size and scale. Because of today's variations of homes, all sorts of styles influenced by the Tudor, Victorian and English countryside can be found. Of course, the rustic, frontier style gate is also used today. Log, ranch-style gates and simple wooden picket fence gates all have their place in the American landscape.

Wooden Gates - Natural in appearance and equally functional, there are all sorts of design possibilities with wood. Lattice gates provide some privacy and also make great supports for your climbing plants and vines. A white picket fence gate is a charming entrance to a country or cottage style garden and can also sport some ivy for a pleasant effect. Wooden gates can be painted any color, or sealed or stained. They can also be scalloped, patterned, or have a decorative edging. Natural wooden gates look great when used in conjunction with pretty hinges or wrought iron designs. Cedar typically lasts the longest of all gates, but even so will need periodic sanding, sealing, and painting throughout its lifetime. Even with maintenance, wooden gates tend to be a much cheaper alternative to metal gates.

Oriental Gates - These may also me made of metal in very simple designs but are usually made of bamboo. As well as being beautiful, bamboo is cheap, durable, and very lightweight. Bamboo gates are designed in many styles, from simple grid panels to elegant bamboo fretworks. Such gates are perfect for Chinese or Japanese-style gardens, as they blend into the overall garden's design concept. Alternatively, Oriental gates can be made from found driftwood or woven reeds for an eco-friendly and natural look.

TIP: Rachel suggests, "Although they are not actually gates, arbors and archways make beautiful entranceways to any garden. Archways are a simple arch, wooden or metal, that curves over the garden entrance. Arbors are metal or wooden structures that are open like an arch but closed on two sides, usually with latticework. Both are beautiful adorned with climbing plants, like a hardy garden clematis. The arbor is a more stable structure that, when constructed properly, can support the weight of heaver vines such as grapes and wisteria."

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