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Articles » Landscaping » Features » INVITING DOORS AND GATES



Doorways or gateways are important focal points in any house and garden – they’re the places you walk to and through and that fact alone makes them more used and looked at than just about any other part of a garden. They can convey warmth and welcome feelings, or signal warnings and neglect. They are the first image of your garden.

It doesn’t matter whether the gate or door leads to another garden area, to the inside of a building or off your property, it is still a highly visible focal point and as such a prime target for attention if you’re looking to create a feature, and raise the overall image of your garden.

You can treat these areas in all sorts of different ways. Consider the following:

· They can become a frame for something on the other side. Just as the right picture frame complements the picture it surrounds, and the wrong one detracts from the picture…an appropriate door or gateway will either enhance or detract from what you see on the other side.

· They can become a feature in themselves. The surrounds can be simple or elaborate, as can the actual door or gate itself be. Different colours, materials, textures, styles and decorations can be used to create a myriad of effects.

· They can change the feel of a garden if they are fitted with a solid door or gate that can either be left opened or closed (either way will create a different feeling). Likewise a see through gate or door can create tantalising glimpses of scenes beyond inviting people to investigate.

· They can be an important factor in providing security and/or privacy in a garden, or in containing pets and/or children.


The possibilities when choosing and decorating a gate or door are just about endless. The following ideas will hopefully stimulate your creative juices to come up with a gate or door that best suits your needs, and perhaps as well is a reflection of your personality.

· Bright colours can be used to highlight the door or gate making it a real eye catching feature. Colours can also be selected to allow the gate or entry to merge in with its surrounds if you don’t want to encourage traffic through it, or to create a hidden entry.

· Decorative artwork, in a huge variety of styles, can be used on the gate or door itself, or on surrounds. Examples include painted stencil patterns, or patterns created from ceramic tiles, carvings in wooden frames, decorative ironwork (such as iron ‘lace’), and wooden or metal fretwork.

· Craft/art pieces can be mounted onto, or to the side, or above the entry way. Examples include sculptures, ceramic art, even decoratively framed mirrors.

· Frame the door or gate with attractive plants, such as colourful climbers, or tall narrow plants such as palms.

· Narrow trellis sections can be used up the sides, or above a gateway to frame it. The trellis can be used as a support for plants, or can be painted and kept free of plants to provide tantalising views through the gaps, particularly when a solid gate is used.

· Frame walkways leading to doors or gates with hedging plants, or solid structures such as low stone or brick walls.

· Create ‘peep holes’ or ‘viewing ports’ in otherwise solid doors or gates to tempt people to see what is on the other side.

· Build a gate house, archway or pergola over the gate or door.

· Sliding doors or gates can be used when space is limited. Runners can be fixed along a fence or solid wall on which the gate/door slides.

· Two part gates or doors (sometimes called ‘barn doors’) where the gate/door is split into two halves horizontally can be used to keep children and pets contained, or provide a limited barrier keeping others out, while still opening up the entrance area for views and for the passage of fresh air.

· Two part gates or doors split vertically can be used when there is not a lot of opening space. These types of doors/gates can also look great in formal gardens where symmetry is desired – there is a balance on both sides of the entrance way.

· Hidden gates can be created in tea-tree or brush fences using a metal or wooden frame covered by the tea tree or brush. When the gate is closed it appears to be just another part of the fence.

· Pet doors can be installed in doors or gates to allow your pets’ free access, while maintaining your privacy and restricting access to others.

· Create a real feature walkway leading up to your door or gate by installing a water feature in front of it, crossed by a bridge leading directly to the gate/door.

· For added security you can now obtain small, narrow roller doors – similar to garage doors that can be used as an alternative to more commonly used doors or gates.

· Shade cloth can be used to cover a wooden or metal frame to create a door/gate that allows air some light through for good ventilation, and for plant growth, while still providing a physical barrier, and some degree of privacy. The shade cloth can be cheaply and easily replaced when it deteriorates, or the colour changed if you decide to create a different effect.

· Child proof locks, such as those used on pool fences, can be attached to gates, to keep children out of areas you don’t want them in, or in areas where you want them contained.


Like any other construction good design, use of quality materials, good preparation, and good maintenance will ensure your door or gate looks great and lasts a long time in good condition.

Some things to consider are:

· Will the style, materials and colours you intend to use fit in with the overall look of your house and garden? Consider how it will look from both sides, and when the door is open or closed.

· You should provide a solid structure or framework from which to hang your door or gate. Surrounding structures should also be in good condition. There is no point having a great looking door or gate if everything around it is in poor condition, or it isn’t strong enough to support the weight of the gate or door.

· Ensure that there is sufficient room to open your gate or door, including making sure that the ground is level, that there are no objects located in the area where the gate/door will swing, and that any plants you place nearby will not block off the gate/door as they grow.

· Make sure you use a suitable paint/preservative, and regularly retreat your gate/door to keep it in good condition.

Article by John Mason and staff of ACS Distance Education.



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