These directions summarize some supplies and steps we have found helpful when working with doors. This information is offered for use at your own discretion, and it may or may not be applicable to your specific project. Please consult a professional for more detailed advice regarding your project.


-safety glasses
-ear protection
-screw gun or screw driver
-wood drill bits
-tape measure
-saw – chop saw, hacksaw, reciprocating saw, skill saw, hand saw or trim saw
-metal cutting tool
-angle grinder
-saw horses
-speed square
-framing square
-socket set, if needed for hardware
-rubber mallet
-post-hole digger

  1. Think through the functionality of your garden gate
    1. Determine how durable it needs to be. How much traffic will the gate get? Will you be walking through it with materials that may bang against it? Do you want this gate to provide any security?
    2. Determine what size the gate should be. Are you building off of an existing fence, with the spacing already determined? Will you be bringing your lawnmower through the gate? Are you attached to any certain kind of hardware?
  2. Scope out what materials you have lying around that you can use in your salvaged gate project
    1. Salvaged items that can dress up your gate include lumber, security bars, shelf brackets, cables, tiles, tool handles, fence boards, pieces of pallets, glass blocks, copper piping, cedar shakes, radiator covers, wrought iron, etc. Get creative! These items can be found anywhere from the street corner to your local salvage store
  3. Insert posts in the space where the garden gate will go, if needed
    1. Dig two holes with a post-hole digger. If your soil is rocky, you may need a rock bar or auger
    2. The holes for the posts should be roughly 1/3 the length of the post, for sufficient sturdiness
    3. There are many different options for lumber, but they should be generally rot-resistant. Some good options for wood include cedar, pressure-treated wood, and any tropical wood, such as ipe, mahogany and teak
      1. You may want to avoid pressure-treated wood if the post will be in contact with edible plants
    4. Many different sizes will work, but 4x4s or 6x6s are good dimensions for posts
    5. Secure the posts with gravel or concrete
      1. Be careful not to pull the posts up as the concrete is setting, or you may create gaps underneath the posts. This could make the post less stable and make it susceptible to rotting
      2. The concrete or gravel on ground level should slope slightly toward the ground, rather than toward the post. This will prevent water from pooling up and rotting the bottom of the post
    6. Make sure the posts are plumb with a level
    7. You may consider further solidifying the posts by building an arbor at the top of the posts
    8. Read the concrete’s packaging for drying instructions, but plan on waiting a day for it to dry
  4. Build the frame for your garden gate
    1. If the size is not flexible, plan such that there will be a ¼” gap between the posts and the gate
      1. You may need to leave more space, depending on your hardware choices
    2. Similar to the posts, be sure to use a wood that is rot-resistant, but avoid pressure-treated wood if it is in contact with edible plants
    3. Many different sizes will work, but generally try to use something that is a 2×4 or thicker
    4. Make sure your joints are solid
  5. Fill your frame with different salvaged materials
    1. Similar to the posts and frame, if using wood, be sure to choose kinds that are rot-resistant, except when in contact with edible plants
    2. Cross bars provide aesthetic value and lend structural integrity to the gate
      1. If the gate is made out of metal, cross bars may not be necessary, as there is less concern with warping
      2. Diagonal supports also provide aesthetic value and lend structural integrity to the gate
        1. If you are using wood for a diagonal support, make sure it runs from the top corner of the latch-side of the gate to the bottom corner of the hinge-side. This helps distribute weight effectively
        2. If you are using cables and a turn buckle for the diagonal support, the cable will run the opposite way—from the top corner of the hinge-side to the bottom corner of the latch-side
    3. Be mindful how much weight you put into the frame. Roughly 45 pounds or less is a good target weight. With more weight than that, you should further secure the posts and frame
    4. Move things around and try different patterns to assess the aesthetic value
  6. Attach hardware to the gate and posts
    1. Assess which way you want the gate to swing or if you want it to swing both ways
    2. Again, assess the function of the gate. For security, use a sturdier piece of hardware. For a chicken coop, you can use something that is more light-duty
    3. Similarly, assess the weight of the gate, before choosing hardware
    4. Aesthetics may also be a consideration
    5. You may consider door hinges, slide bolt latches, swivel hinges or strap hinges. Some kinds of hardware allow gates to swing both ways
    6. Be aware of which kinds of hardware rust and whether you want the hardware to rust, before deciding on the hardware
    7. Attach the hardware to the gate and posts with stainless steel screws, to prevent streaks of rust
    8. You can use salvaged door hinges if you oil them first
    9. You may also considering putting casters on the bottom of the gate, to relieve stress from the hinges and prevent sagging. This is especially helpful in heavy or wide gates
    10. Just remember to plan accordingly for hardware spacing, before getting too far on the construction of the garden gate
    11. Make sure the gate is level and plumb