Gates and fences are traditional elements of yard and garden décor. Gates can be attached to arbors or pergolas to mark pathways, to divide certain sections of your yard or garden or to provide a visually formal introduction to your property. Fences offer privacy, act as a barrier to the elements, contain pets or children and discourage intruders. With all that it provides, it's no wonder that the quintessential white picket fence has become as much a part of the American dream as the home it surrounds.
Wrought iron gates are the traditional choice for driveway gates or other formal uses. Some manufacturers use galvanized steel that is powder coated to give the look of wrought iron without the higher cost or greater maintenance requirements. Steel or even lightweight aluminum has also been used. These are typically more decorative and highly detailed.
Wooden gates are more often used in residential settings for their flexibility and versatility. Wood is commonly used for garden gates but can be used anywhere you'd use a gate outdoors. Wooden gates can range from simple boards to highly stylized structures.
Building a fence is a pretty basic home improvement project. After identifying your property lines, setbacks and any buried cables or pipes, use stakes and string to create the outline of your fence. Measure out the distance between posts and use stakes to mark the spots. Run string along the outside of the stakes to provide a guide for building.
A clamshell digger can help you dig post holes; a power auger can make the work easier, especially for large projects or projects on hard ground. The holes need to reach below the frost line, which can vary by area. Typically, you'll bury almost half of the corner posts and the posts for fence gates and about a third of the line posts.
Using concrete to set the end posts and the posts for fence gates will ensure a sturdy foundation for the fence. While pressure-treated wood and other common fencing materials are rot resistant, putting gravel at the bottom of each of the line post holes will allow any collected water to drain away.