garden gates, in trash-to-treasure style

salvaged garden gate 3IDIDN’T KNOW A PINTLE FROM A GUDGEON, but I knew I had dragged home some rusty, clunky iron tag-sale finds over the years that I’d grown tired of moving around the garage ever since. And so were born my trash-to-treasure style garden gates, thanks to a crafty friend who knows his hinge parts and a thing or two more.

old headboard as gate
This is not my first such adventure. Some 25 years earlier, when I first bought this place, I explored the woods around it and found two foundations of homes long gone—and in one an iron bed, with its decorative headboard and footboard rusting among the collapsing stones. The headboard (above) became a gate by the house and seasonal home to a clematis; the footboard used to support a rose that I have since lost or cast out.

small gate on pipe
After that, I kept bringing things home, but never doing anything with them (sound familiar?). Two small panels with an open basket-weave, like a fancy pie crust, were probably once the grating or protective shutters over a low, arched window. Now they hang on pieces of plumbing pipe, marking two narrow pathways bisecting one big border.

pipe to hold gate 2
My handy friend knew to ask: Did I want the pipe to rust like the “gates” that would be suspended from it? Yes, I said, and so he chose black pipe (capped, above), used for heating and gas lines and such, rather than galvanized; the black is already less new-and-shiny looking. It will wear rather than remain gleaming silvery outdoors. The gudgeons are improvised with a pair of giant eye bolts that pierce the pipe, with a locking nut on the opposite side.

vegetable garden gate
The other new gate (top photo and just above) was actually also a gate in its former life, and now hangs between two 8-by-8 posts I’d had lying behind the barn the last who knows how many years, since the spot where they once stood got dug up and changed when a piece of terrace went in. The posts will look better once vines do their camouflage thing, but we’re off to a good start, anyhow, and it now “announces” the entry to a series of raised vegetable beds. Fun.

pintle and gudgeon
See the pintle, or pin, above, and gudgeon that it slides into, like the pins that hold a rudder on a sailboat? Voila. The hinge of choice for things that swing.

Only problem: I am eyeing roadside tag sales with a new hunger again, now that I’ve managed to clear some space in the garage.

  1. Kaveh says:

    Those are wonderful. I have been going around collecting photos of garden gates for a blog post I am going to do some day but most of them are solid wood gates rather than see through metal gates.

  2. Janet says:

    I love, love, love those gates. I too will be eyeing yard and garage sales for ‘found objects’. Thank you for the up close photos to see how the pins and bolts work. I have one old gate leaning and now will make it more purposeful.

  3. Judy says:

    Love the gates . . . so totally my style.

    You mentioned your plan to have vines grow up the posts . . . what type of vines do you like to use? My knowledge of vines is weak.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Julie says:

    I’ve got a few old bedheads myself that I knew I kept for that reason. Plus I’ve recently bought 111 acres, but haven’t really defined areas yet. So the “gates” will come in really handy and make beautiful, nostalgic, useful additions to the farm. Great inspiriation – thanks

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Julie. 111 acres!!!! Oh, my. Sounds wonderful. Congratulations. I have much less land but started in near the house, working outward, so that pretty quickly I felt like I had the start of a “yard” to define the immediate area around the house — and it has evolved a lot, but the original beds are still there, though bigger.

  5. margaret mary dabe says:

    I found a gate the first week I moved in and used it to block off the little-used side yard. You are a delight and an inspiration to me!

  6. Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern says:

    These are beautiful! That headboard is a find! I love collecting “things” for the garden. My rule, though, is that they have to be free (except for the expense of nuts and bolts and hinges and such). I have a “sculpture” that reminds me of a wing. It is some sort of rusty part that somehow fit perfectly on a stake of rusty rebar – it is suspended in mid air like a wing. I may have to keep eyes open for “gates” now, though! Thank you for the inspiration.

  7. Cairn says:

    Awesome! Can’t wait till you post pics of the established vines growing on the new gate.

    S-O much drainage damage to my flowerbeds from the severe and frequent rain storms we have given up and called in the landscapers to install French drains. Huge flower planter is now listing downhill, big trench opened up under the landscape fabric….

    But you have inspired me to haul that vintage former university park bench out of the garage and refurbish it for use in a new bog friendly flower garden at the side of our home under the neighbor’s extending Live Oak limbs. Gardeners never give up! LOL

  8. Sharon says:

    Oh, how I love your information! I also have an old iron footboard and picked it up right out of the trash one night. Have always wanted to make a gate and now I know just how to do it, thanks to you! I can’t wait to get started! Today is my birthday and my husband ordered your book “And I Shall….” for me….I love it!!!

  9. Lisakaye says:

    I really loved reading this post and enjoyed the photos. I’ve looked at a lot of images of garden gates for some inspiration but I’ve never seen any which include photos of the connectors. WELL DONE!!! This is why you are the top garden blogger…..

  10. Judy says:

    I love this post! The gates are so charming and unique… love how they look! I bookmarked this post for ideas. I wish I lived closer, so I could visit the spring tour of your garden. Your home and garden is enchanting.

  11. Hmm, I have an old grate, about 30″ square that came out of and old grain elevator on my grandparents farm. It’s sitting in the barn because I am not sure what to do with it. This is an idea I will consider.

  12. susan m wilson says:

    This information is so helpful to me. I will now know what to ask for at the hardware store. I have old gates to hang. Thank you so much.

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