New Garden Gates

My garden gates are important for my garden’s defenses against marauding chickens, skunks, possums, turtles and other uninvited diners. Until now they were clumsy affairs out of leftover wood and wire.

The Ozarks is a humid place. Wood rots quickly when wet or damp for long periods of time. Every two or three years I would rummage through the wood piles in search of usable pieces to rebuild the gates.

The marauders are getting more serious. Old wire and rotten wood don’t keep these garden invaders at bay lately. The new gates had to be more serious affairs.

Besides, I was tired of building gates so often.

PVC gate pieces

Each of the new gates has seven pieces of PVC pipe. Three crosspieces are the same length. The other four can be the same length or two pairs of the same length to build the uprights.

When we moved here, we brought lots of supplies with us thinking we would need them. A pile of PVC pipe has sat unused waiting for a purpose.

PVC does not rot. It is rigid. It is strong. It is light weight. I decided to use a few of these PVC pipes for my new garden gates.

There is one problem. I’ve never worked with PVC pipe before. How hard can it be?

Problem 1: Measuring the new gates. Each of the three garden gates is a different size. Since each gate would have three crossbars fitted into PVC joints plus a two piece upright on each end, measuring was a bit haphazard.

PVC pipe and joint pieces laid out

Each PVC piece is laid out with the joints to show how they will go together to build the gates. Next the pieces are glued into the joints.

The two upright pieces had to total the same length. Each two piece side was the same as the other. Each crossbar was the same length.

Cutting them was easy. A table saw or handsaw works just fine.

Problem 2: Gluing the pieces together. The instructions and cautions on a can of PVC glue are daunting. At least ventilation was not a problem as I was working out under a black walnut tree.

The weather delayed gluing. Temperatures dropped into the sixties for highs and I needed seventies. Showers kept the ground moist and I needed dry. But the day arrived.

First I laid out the PVC pipe pieces. Then the joints were put out. The directions do say to check how everything fit together and I had done that earlier in the barn where everything but the glue was stored waiting. Unglued multi-piece gates tend to fall apart easily.

The glue is remarkably easy to use. It has its own applicator to swab a strip around the inside of the joint then around the pipe. Stick the piece in the joint firmly and the glue takes over.

PVC gate frame

A finished PVC gate frame is assembled but the glue must dry and set for a time before wire can be attached.

Problem 3: Gluing flat gates on hilly ground. I didn’t solve this one. My gates are a bit bent in the middle. Each does have one straight side for the hinges.

Problem 4: Adding the wire. My old pieces are not big enough. The new gates are bigger than my old ones. Luckily there is some leftover welded wire from rebuilding the chicken yard.

Unfortunately rain moved back in. My gate frames are stored in the barn waiting.