Your choice of garden gate ideas makes a huge impression and can dramatically change the look and feel of your outside space. From split driveway models that are impressive and imposing, front of house designs ideal for boosting your home’s kerb appeal, to super secure or enchanting side garden gates, there are plenty of off-the-peg and bespoke options available.
Of course, you could also seize the opportunity to commission something unique and handcrafted, which will become part of your home and treasured for years to come. But it’s not just a case of going for a stunning design in a gorgeous finish, these garden beauties need to be practical, long lasting and offer reliable security too. Discover how to strike the perfect balance by checking our guide to the very latest products, then head over to our landscaping ideas gallery for more brilliant ways to transform your outdoor space.
1. Sleek and solid
Large contemporary style gates are often dark, solid and imposing but thankfully they don’t have to be that way. There’s a growing number of aluminium options on the market. Relatively light to operate and with a hardwearing and smooth powder-coated finish (usually matt black) they create a smart first impression. The real bonus though, is that many come with laser-cut fretwork panels. Designed to let the light partly filter through, they add a decorative touch and give the opportunity to personalise the front of your property.
2. Commission a handcrafted design
Indulge your artistic side and commission a local blacksmith to create an unique, and ornate iron gate. Ok, it may not always be the thriftiest option but the chance to have a one-off, handcrafted design especially made for your home is something to treasure. Seek out local specialists – the Guild of Master Craftsmen is a great place to start – and check out online examples of their work. Ask for quotes and lead times before progressing to a site visit. This is where you can firm up the design and material options, ask them to take specific measurements and discuss any installation issues too.
3. Try traditional swing gates
Substantial and undeniably rural, wooden swing gates are a common sight on many country estates. Robust and made from hefty timber they are often decoratively open in style and often painted in distinct colours. Designed primarily to keep livestock from wandering off, many designs still bear the hallmarks of times gone by such as the crook-style topped posts – perfect for when you are passing on horseback. Today’s designs are still as striking but can be fully automated and the design adapted and repeated for smaller gates and doorways for a smart, co-ordinated look.
4. Choose the right timber
Most gates take a lot of battering – not literally of course – but from the elements, so it’s worth knowing exactly what you are buying. Many off-the-peg designs are mass made using pressure treated soft woods such as pine or redwood. Affordable and easily and quickly worked, they are perfect for both traditional and contemporary styles. Although soaked and injected with wood preservative these wood types do have a shorter lifespan than hardwood timbers. They also have prominent natural markings and knots which some buyers find less attractive than the smooth, dense grain of a dense, oil-rich hardwood such as oak or iroko.
5. Go for the perfect paint finish
Fancy a brighter look? Then why not treat your wooden gate to a fresh new look. With endless paint colours to choose from – including rich heritage shades, earthy neutrals and infinite contemporary brights – you can really express your home’s style and personality. It’s not a role that any old paint can handle though, the best exterior wood paint needs to be resin rich, flexible and breathable to cope with the stresses and strains that fluctuating temperatures and weathers can inflict on the timber. They also need to be UV stable to prevent fading and water resistant too. Choose from gloss, high gloss, satin or a low sheen exterior eggshell.
6. Look for quality construction
Looking for a substantial wooden gate that will last for years? Then take a look at the way the gate is put together and joinery techniques used, as well as the overall design. Timber, by nature, will swell and shrink according to the humidity and outside temperature, so a good product will need joints that can cope with this, as well as details that prevent heavy rain from soaking in. Look for designs with mortice and tenon and dowelled joints, as these can accommodate the movement. Tongue and groove boards need to have a millimetre expansion gap between each and set within an internal rebated frame.
7. Sturdy and secure
If garden security is important then you need to invest in a sturdy and well-designed side gate. A solid wood design, that you can’t see through or over is a great deterrent to any intruders, especially if it is set in a similar style fence or wall. If you want a timber design, look for a robust design where boards are rebated within a frame, as this will add extra strength and rigidity. Try and avoid designs with cross braces though as these can double as a handy step ladder.
8. Blend the fence and gate
Whether you need to keep animals and children secure or just fancy a seamless look, choosing a gate that is a good match for your garden fence ideas is a great move. Smart and co-ordinated it also helps to visually smooth out the boundary, creating the impression that the space is much more expansive than it really is. This RHS approved Prestige Square Trellis range of fencing and gates from Garden Trellis Company can be made to measure in cedar, iroko or pine and finished in one of eight paint colours.
9. Secret garden style
There’s something rather romantic about a weathered gate set in high brick wall. Visions of the childhood favourite The Secret Garden spring to mind. Well, if you are not lucky enough to inherit such a beauty then why not create or commission your own? This once-solid, tongue and groove gate has been transformed by adding a lattice-style section of ironwork. Designed by garden designer Peter Reader, it now offers a tantalising glimpse into the space beyond. Have a chat with a local garden designer, blacksmith or carpenter for design and installation ideas and give careful thought to how to seal the newly cut wood from rain.
10. Showcase traditional skills
A beautiful wild or cottage garden deserves a gate with rural charm. It’s hard to find a better choice than a skilfully handcrafted gate. Made from coppiced sweet chestnut, this fabulous Minorcan design from Green Man Woodcrafts makes the most of the peeled timber’s organic sweeping curves. Naturally durable the timber can be left untreated and it will silver and age beautifully over time. A nifty carved wooden latch is an elegant feature.
11. Choose a sympathetic design
Take a cue from the immediate surroundings to inspire your choice of gate. Urban, modern gardens often suit sharp, contemporary shapes and finishes in bold, graphic tones – think flat panels of black powder-coated steel or rust-toned Corten steel. For rural properties try reflecting the undulating shape of the landscape, using locally harvested timber. This timber design by Janey Butler Interiors and Llama Architects echoes the distant rolling hills and tones of the dry stone walling perfectly.
12. An opportunity for artwork
More of a sculpture than an obvious gate, this double panelled design has been made out of laser cut steel and creates an intricate and dramatic silhouette when viewed against the garden. Naturally inspired shapes such as trees, flowers, leaves and seed heads will all work beautifully in a lush, garden environment but designs that incorporate house numbers and names can be hugely practical for driveways and front gardens.
13. Security matters
Privacy and peace of mind are both key issues when it comes to choosing driveway gates. For many, having smart but solid, robust and rather formidable looking gates can be a huge move towards making their property secure and enabling them to feel reassured whether they are at home or away. Choose from swing or slide opening designs – this is partly dependent on the space available – and automated or manual operating systems. The weight and required action of the gate will dictate the size of motor needed. Metal gates tend to be lighter and need a 24v motor while heavier wooden panels could need up to 230v. You can further improve your home and garden security by adding one of the best outdoor security cameras.
14. Add a flamboyant touch
A hit of colour and unashamed glamour is a great way to pep up your outside space, so why not use choosing a new gate as the perfect excuse to kick start a new border or garden design. Ironwork gates are a great for introducing a sense of movement, and you can be as bold as you like with the colour and finish, as thanks to its see-through nature it will often blend with the garden, plants and garden path beyond. Rather than just hanging a single or pair of gates, max out the impact by going for co-ordinating side panels too. Perfect for a narrow side return, it really lifts the space with a sense of drama and fun.