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Fence In General
Do It Yourself

I am hand-building a picket fence and have a question.  I have a slope of about 4 in per 10 feet and am following the contour of the land.  In other words my pickets are vertical but the rails are not horizontal.  I want to install a double 5 ft drive through gate in the fence.   If I build the gate to look the same as the fence, the gates will not be square.   If I build the gate square, I will have an odd looking 10 foot section in this run of fence and too much space under one end. I want the fence to look nice and professional.  Can you advise me on how to handle it?

Yes. Don't put a gate on a slope! It's a problem because most gates are needed on each side of a house and the grades generally slope away from the house for drainage. Choose the most level spot for your gate to make the best of a bad situation.

If you insist, you have options as illustrated in the drawing.

This shows a single gate, but a double gate is similar. The wider the gate opening the more severe the problem. Each option is explained below and there could be slight variations of these, including staggering the top of a double swing gate.

A: Let the top and bottom of the fence and gate follow the slope. This is my favorite on steep slopes or for long slopes, where option E is not possible. The problem with this option is the gate can only swing off the low side gate post. It would hit the ground, if it swings off the other post. The gate looks very odd when opened because it will go up into the air since it is out of square. Since most gates are shut most of the time, the closed appearance is more important.

B: Here the fence follows the slope and the gate is square. This is your only option with pre-fabricated square gates. The space under the gate might be excessive on wide gates. It will look bad and small pets can crawl out. I don't like this option, but it is the one of the easiest to install.

C: The bottom of the gate is sloped with the grade to fill the gap. Once again the gate can only swing off the post on the right, as in option A. Also I show a slight crown in the top to break the uneven top gate posts a bit. I like this also.

D. Here I show a gate that looks similar to option B. The gate is the same height as the fence. It sticks out above the low gate post. That's the difference in B and this one. B's gate is shorter so it does not extend above the low post. I don't like this one either, but it is the easiest to install if your gate is the same height as the fence and is already assembled.

E. Very attractive option. There is no excessive space under the fence. The top is level and looks nice. The problem here is the low side of your fence must not exceed the height of the rest of the fence and the low side might end up to short on height. Steep slopes or slight slopes over long distances will make it nearly impossible to choose this option. There may not be any fence by the time you reach the high side. A drop of 6' over any distance would result in no fence at the high side on a 6' high fence. If you start with 6' on the high side, the fence would be 12' tall on the low side!

Author: Frank R. Hoover, Hoover Fence Co.
25 years+ in the fence business

Copyright 1999 Hoover Fence Co.
May be reprinted as long as the source is acknowledged


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