Add A Garden Gate: Security, Privacy, Focal Point

March 24, 2024

A Portal Into The Garden; A Special Space

A garden gate or portal will give you what your garden needs; security, privacy, a sense of mystery, and a focal point to entice us all in. A well-designed garden gate will make the most of the work we all put into the gardens we love.

What can designing an identifiable and interesting portal into the garden, give us?

The Garden Portal: Closable Gate Or Framed Entry?

A garden gate with an enticing view
A Gate To An Ocean View

The garden entry needs to be enticing. The best of them make us and our visitors want to get beyond it, it tells us that something special lies inside. We feel that we need to get beyond. If your garden gate does that, you have already succeeded and that feeling will last far into the future of your garden.

Your garden’s portal must signify a transition to someplace new and different.

Does Your Garden portal need to be a closable gate?

There are many ways to do this job, here is how to decide among them. You can choose:

  • a gate that closes and locks,
  • an arbor that marks an entryway but allows transit through the space for you, and service vehicles, such as lawnmowers. Ir can provide height, a vertical garden space as well as shade.
  • Alternatively, you can mark your entry with pillars, sculpture, and vertical planting material.

When do you need your portal to include a Garden Gate?

Choose a complete gate that closes, when you need the following:

  • When your garden needs security and privacy from activities outside.
  • When children and pets are playing inside and require security.
  • When the garden borders busy or noisy roads or other areas.
A decorative, solid garden door in a wall.

Did you read the ‘Secret Garden’? This is a secret place but with a tiny hint of things to come via the window.

Choice of garden gate features.

  • A tall and solid gate provides the most privacy, it also prevents pets from being excited by events outside.
  • A lower gate feels friendly and keeps you connected with neighbors.
  • A picket fence symbolizes the traditions of a cottage garden.
  • You can decorate or embellish the outer surface of the gate with a color or pattern that enhances the house’s architecture or tradition.
  • You can hang a flat-backed planter of flowers to hint at your garden style.

Essential Elements Of A Garden Gate

Your garden can be entered in a wide variety of ways and still control entry and privacy. Here are a few, would they entice you into the garden?

The Value Of Height

Height makes a portal more impressive. This is not a full-length gate but its arbor of ivy makes it more significant. The garden remains primarily private but lends a hint of what lies beyond.

A Rustic Gate

Low rustic gate into a field

This Low rustic gate tells me exactly where we are going. Across the grass pathway to a field, I might need my boots.

Closed Door-Open View

A Gate that entices us in

This gate has a closed door. We can’t get in but the lacy gate and its floral surround make us want more, we need to go farther.

A Gate In A Living Green Wall

Surrounded by Ficus pumila, this gate guards a tropical garden and we have a hint of the green beyond through through the large oval opening.


Portal into a faux garden

This portal takes us to a ‘faux garden.’ we have no idea what lies beyond.

A Gated Garden For A Houseboat!

the gated garden of an Amsterdam houseboat.

Amsterdam is filled with canals and they in turn are filled with houseboats. These boat residents have created a garden by the sidewalk with a locking gate to protect ‘home sweet home’.

Some Unique Garden Gates

There are some special designs in garden gates, and some of these are recognized around the world for their unique style.

A pair of moon gates
A Pair of Moon Gates

The Chinese Moon Gate

The moon gate, now seen in various places around the world has a long history in Chinese gardens, where they serve as a portal between the exterior and interior of a garden. They spread from China to Japan and other places where travelers saw and appreciated them. Good manners in China leave social gates open and that is thought to be the reason why there is not always a door.

The Bermuda Moon Gate

As the story goes, in the 1860’s a Bermuda-based sea captain traveled to China where he admired the open gates. He brought back plans and today you can see roughly 40 of them on the island as you buzz around on your motor scooters. Today they are now a symbol of Bermuda style.

The Garden Gate To Nowhere

This gate goes nowhere
The Gate to Nowhere

We are primarily interested in useful garden gates, the ones that keep small children and dogs inside and strangers out. However, in every garden, there is some room for fantasy, and this is a fantasy gate. This is an old garden door to which we added mirrors and placed them on a bland wall. Growing up the wall is the same Ficus pumila we saw on a prior gate.

Don’t overlook the value of surprise.

Essential Elements Of An Arbor Or Opening

If your garden will be improved by highlighting its entry and does not need a closing gate, consider an arbor that can create the feeling of a portal and frame an introductory view of the garden.

Arbors Can Be As Varied and Enticing As Any Gate

An enticing arbor offering a way into a garden
Is This Any Less Enticing?

Compare this portal to the red gate with the ocean view. It is framed as beautifully, the pink roses make you want to see more and the path ahead draws you in to see what follows. And nothing stops the visitor from walking right in!

For more ideas try this story from Architectural Digest about things you can do with a simple trellis. There are some ideas about dividing spaces in the garden and adding privacy.

The Power Of The Portal

Archway to street in Brugh

This grand portal does not take you to a garden, it marks the entry to a quiet street in the ancient Belgian city of Bruges. It makes you feel that the street must be special and you want to enter.

(Bruges features chocolates and canal boat rides; how hard can it be!)

The Hedge Can Be The Gate

The garden hedge can form the gate.

You don’t need a fence. A hedge can have an entry or your hedge can form the portal into the garden.

Dripping With Flowers

A portal of flowers to welcome you in

On a hot day, you can pass under the shade of this pergola dripping with lavender blooms. It’s not wisteria, it is called Queen’s Wreath, and it is the lavender vine of the Caribbean.

Essential Elements Of A Lower Portal

By lower portal we mean an entry that clearly tells your guests, enter here, but does it quietly. This is the way to create a beautiful way to approach the garden but does not physically surround your entry.

Eye-Catching Tiled Stairs

decorated stairs invite us into a garden
The Decorated Stairs Invite Us In

This Florida Mediterranean property invites us in with five tile-surfaced steps. There is no doubt that the walkway will take us to something we want to see.

A Simple Step Down To A Pretty Walkway

A Step down from the patio takes you into the garden

A step down from the patio takes you into the garden. Camellias on the right, a borrowed landscape beyond.

The groundcovers used are Dwarf Mondo Grass ‘Nana’ on the left, and Liriope, on the right.

Agapanthus To Draw You In

The blooming agapanthus takes you forwaard

On the sides of a high mountain in Maui, you walk around this vineyard, the cottage ahead is a tasting room. These robust rows of agapanthus in vivid blue like the ocean far below, lead you from one part of the winery to another. You just follow the blue.

Two Low Posts With Planters

Two Planters mark the entry

The beginning of the planting beds is marked by two planters on short posts. At the end of the walkway is the house where Shakespeare was born. The planter’s job is to bring you into a large garden where you can admire the landscape and perhaps sit down and watch the actors perform scenes from the plays.

Some Practical Notes On Gates

  • Most garden gates open inward, in fact, if your gate is near a public area many communities require it.
  • Use a threshold: prevent compaction and further mark the beginning of a new place with a threshold of stone, rock material or even mulch. This will further inform the visitor that a new place is starting.
  • Your gate or portal into the garden is part of a whole. Utilize the architectural style of the whole property. Take your cue for gate design from the front door, can that help you?
  • The gap between the gate bottom and the ground: provide sufficient room between the fence and the ground to allow for any unevenness in the ground. This is usually about one to two inches.
collage of garden gates and portals

This collage includes gateways and portals in a variety of styles and materials. The image in the left, middle is not a gate. It is a stile for a walker to cross a fence. You put your foot on the horizontal board and cross the fence into the pasture.

Resources You Can Use

The Complete Guide To Visiting The Oxford Botanical Garden. It is the oldest public garden in the UK and one of the world’s oldest and you enter it via an outstanding Gagate. The gate and the wall it is part of cost the garden so much money that it almost ate up the cash needed for the whole garden. Build yourself a great gate but don’t make that mistake!

Shakespeare’s Gardens. You can visit the various properties related to William Shakespeare in Stratford On Avon, this is our review as we visited on a canal boating trip.

Homes and Gardens: ‘How to Build a Fence Gate’

Fine Woodworking: ‘Building Garden Gates’