Garden Gates: Entryways to Your Landscape
Exterior Worlds Custom Fencing Design And Installation ServicesJust as a well-chosen front door delivers a message about the homeowner, garden gates convey a lot of information as well. With garden gates, you have the opportunity to make a statement. For instance, a bright eye-catching color demands attention. Garden gates made of pickets or wrought iron reflect a certain openness and willingness to share, say, giving passersby a peek at an outdoor water fountain just on the other side. Solid garden gates, conversely, indicate a desire for privacy and security.
The pitch-perfect garden entryway can enliven the overall landscape design, especially when it complements the style of your home.
Garden gates can be used as focal points, which are visual tools that bring the landscape design into focus and gives it definition. This technique is often referred to as directing the eye or giving the eye a place to rest. An ornamental garden gate can be used to break up an over-sized yard by placing it in the near distance. Or a garden gate on the back fence can make use of your neighbor’s landscape.
Landscape lighting can be used to create nighttime focal points. Garden gates make lovely use of this technique since the lighting of gates not only provides secure entry, but also makes for an interesting interplay of shadow and light.
Plants are often used to soften a garden gate, making it even more inviting. When combined with landscape lighting, the effect can be stunning. Plant suggestions for the Houston area:
- Mandevilla and allamanda put out large, fragrant flowers in pink, red, white and yellow.
- Crossvine is an evergreen that blooms heavily in spring.
- Butterfly pea puts out blue flowers annually around June.
- The Mexican flame vine is aptly named with yellow and orange flowers that come out in the fall.
Choosing the Right Material
Cedar and redwood are good choices for garden gate material in Houston’s climate. In particular, cedar is a likely option because it wears well and is resistant to insects—plus, it provides that “Texas” look. Bamboo and rattan are also sturdy enough for this area. Somewhat less expensive than wood, they work really well in an Oriental or contemporary garden.
If you like to mix textures, Jeff Halper with Exterior Worlds offers the idea of using both wood and painted aluminum. “Aluminum doesn’t erode and rust like iron. While it’s roughly 40 percent more expensive than iron, you can expect it to last for about 50 years,” he says. Other clients have asked him to custom-build fences around antique garden gates they’ve purchased elsewhere, adding an unexpected element to an ordinary fence.
Decorative Driveway Gates
Another use of a gateway is across the driveway, something that provides a higher degree of security for you the homeowner by letting you monitor who is coming and going. Most often made of iron, aluminum, or wood, these driveway gates can also use a mix of wood and iron or aluminum for additional style.
Good to Know
“When we put in fencing and gates, we like to hide them in the landscape as much as possible,” says Halper. “It’s done through good landscape design. For example, a fence and gate that cordon off a pool area can be woven among shrubs, making it safe, up to code and aesthetically pleasing.”
He offers this suggestion for dealing with garden gates in Houston’s expansive soil: “If you have a gate with a knob, the locking mechanism may not line up properly because the ground has shifted. An arch over the gate can serve as a frame that keeps the gate square and plumb with the knob’s receiving plate.”