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
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
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
25 years+ in the fence business
Copyright 1999 Hoover Fence Co.
May be reprinted as long as the source is acknowledged
copyright Hoover Fence Co. and Hoover Enterprises, June 1999.
4521 Warren Rd., Newton Falls, OH 44444, Phone: (330) 358-2335