I feel as though I keep saying this, but spring is sort-of-kind-of finally here in Chicago! (One day it’s 40, the next day it’s 70.) We’ve been spending a lot of time indoors making endless decisions about the baseboards (yup, still!), but over the weekend, we took advantage of a sunny day – albeit, a 40 degree one – and made a much needed gate for our side yard:
This project was a little more of a challenge, only in the sense that we were on a strict $90 budget to celebrate Ace Hardware‘s 90th anniversary (happy anniversary, Ace!). And because we love a good challenge, well, challenge accepted! With a gift card and sketch in hand, we went to our favorite local Ace and dived into plans with Al (you know we love that guy), and we put together a shopping cart full of the supplies we’d need, coming in juuust under the $90 mark. Yes!
But first, let’s talk about what’s going on with our side yard – er, side sidewalk? Doggie race track? Yeah, that’s more like it. Houses in Chicago are typically very, very close to each other, and ours is no exception. We’re lucky enough to have a small (like, small) front yard, a sizable-by-city-standards back yard, and this narrow race track along the south facing side of our home:
The cedar fence on the right was installed by our neighbor years before we moved in, and the other side of our house has a chain link fence that we’d like to take down (this year, maybe?) and mimic with the above. We know that Jack and CC love using the sidewalk as a race track, which not only makes them incredibly happy, but it wears them out for more peaceful evenings. But the problem with our narrow walkway is that if we’re sitting on the front porch with the dogs, they’ll sneak off into the backyard out of sight – and vice versa. It’s not a huge problem by any means, and although our house is fenced in on all four sides, we prefer to have one eye on them at all times (especially living here in the city).
With all that said, we spend a considerable amount of time on the front porch during the warm weather months, so in order to allow them to still run laps in the back (which is where they do their business in the colder weather months), we wanted to install a gate closer to the front of the house, keeping them within eye’s distance to us on, say, a lazy afternoon (wait, what’s that?). We spoke with our neighbor about our gate plans, and in order to keep costs low, we wanted her blessing before we made any holes in her fence supports, to which she had no problem at all. Phew! (Had that not been the case, we would have had to install a 4×4 support.) On a side note, we’ve had so much fun meeting our “new” neighbors who’ve admitted to watching our progress over the last 10 months. They’ve all been so encouraging (!), which makes us feel all sweet and gooey inside.
So, here’s how we DIY-ed a (doggie) garden gate in an afternoon:
MATERIALS USED FOR A 41″W GATE:
2 – 8′ Pressure treated 2x4s
7 – Pressure treated wood fence pickets (not cedar)
16 – Stainless steel screws
40-50 – Coated deck screws
1 – Slide bolt latch
2 – T-hinges
Compound miter saw (for making cuts)
Mini Kreg jig
Masonry drill bit
WHAT WE DID: We started first by making the Z-shaped support frame out of the pressure treated 2x4s. Our space is 43″ wide, and after taking into account the size of our hinges while also having enough room for the gate to swing freely, we settled on a 41″ width overall and made those cuts on our miter saw. To figure out the angle of our cross support, we simply laid it on the ground and put our horizontal supports on top, spaced 36″ apart – a height we chose on preference. From there, we marked the cross support for our cuts and used a circular saw to do so. Note: The circular saw was used here for those angled cuts because it was more steep than a 45-degree angle.
Using our mini Kreg jig, we made pocket holes for the cross support, and the frame was secured together using the coated deck screws.
We continued by cutting down two of our fence pickets to 39″ and securing them to the frame – the same side with the exposed pocket holes, which concealed them completely. At this point, we made sure that the width was going to work before proceeding – just in case! Everything looked good, so, onward!
Our gate needed seven fence pickets across, which allowed for a 5/8″ space between each one. Wanting to give our gate a little more interest, Scott suggested we mimic the arches we have in our home and create a gate with a curved top. (Smarty!) We cut the five middle pickets to an extra long length, used a sanding block to soften any burrs and then secured all of them in place with the coated deck screws. Each picket has five screws into the frame – two in the top, two in the bottom and one along the cross support.
To get our arch, I tied string around a pencil and thumb tack, centered the tack and traced my half-circle with the string pulled taught – another one of Scott’s brilliant ideas! (Ooh, my Einstein.) Once we had that outline, Scott used a jigsaw to cut along the line, and I gave the curve a good sanding.
Now that we had our gate assembled, we could move onto the hardware! Because our neighbors gate is made of cedar, we needed to use stainless steel screws to prevent against rotting. If you’re not dealing with cedar wood, then you can skip this step and stick with coated deck screws. In any case, this is why our screws are so glaringly obvious along the hinges, and paint + stainless steel are not friends.
We decided on a slide bolt latch knowing that we could drill a small (and I mean small!) hole into our concrete foundation, and we lucked out by having the gate swing into the mortar. It’s barely 1/4″ deep, which was more than enough to provide a resting place for the latch and secure the gate.
And that’s it! Right now, there’s a whole lot of bare wood going on, but we didn’t want to rush into painting the gate until we knew what color would be best. White? Or something soft and subtle? Something to match the concrete foundation – that is, once we can get that painted, too?
We absolutely love it, and as any gate should, it’s doing the job well! Jack and CC have been having fun running their laps while staying contained in one yard vs. the other, and even when all 120 pounds of them jump on it, it stays put.
While documenting the outcome, we took the opportunity to have a little fun with them (i.e., tired them out!), allowing them to run as free and fast as they’d like. No surprise, they (and we) slept like babies that night. Ugh, CC – her leap kills me! And those ears!
Of course, there’s still a porch to paint, plants to choose, grass to seed, weeds to pull and another half of the home to wash. But! There’s all summer for that, yeah?
And, and! To celebrate Ace’s 90th anniversary, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! The giveaway runs through this Friday, May 2nd at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post by Friday evening. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck and happy entering!
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and a $90 gift card to complete this project (thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. Cute puppies are an added bonus.
I love the pictures of the two of them running laps. They are so cute! Great job on the gate too. It looks great!
I think it’s so smart that you keep an eye on them when you’re outside. IN the big cities I’ve heard so many sad stories of bully pups being stolen from yards, even when owners are home.
Sidenote: That photo of CC with her tongue curling around her face? Priceless. She is precious.
Looks spiffy for 90 bones! And the action shot of the pups running is pretty awesome. ;)
Thank you for this post! My fiance and I have the exact same issue at our house and we’re trying to determine how to build a gate for our pittie!
I never considered just bolting a latch to the side of the house! Every other tutorial I’ve read mentioned drilling an entire piece of wood onto the house itself or having to dig new posts right next to the house’s foundation. Yikes! Do you think the latch support would be okay against a house with siding instead of a concrete foundation? I’m trying to figure out my options.
Thanks again! :)
We were thrilled that our neighbor was okay with us to drill right into her fence post, otherwise we definitely would have had to concrete in a 4×4 for the gate to hinge on. Regarding the latch side…
If our siding went the whole way down, I think we would probably would have cut a square from a pressure treated 2×4 and drilled a hole in the middle of THAT for the latch to slide into. It doesn’t have to be difficult! Just be sure you don’t drill in to far – take a look at this: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/drill-siding-39804.html
Thanks for the info! :) Can you tell we’re new to this whole DIY thing? Haha. Appreciate your expertise.
I will have to anchor a 4×4 post to hinge a gate much like yours. Do you think drilling in a galvanized anchor will be enough support for the free standing post and hinged gate or would you lay it in new concrete?
I would definitely suggest laying in concrete to make sure it stays put for the long haul! If we were unable to drill into our neighbor’s fence, we were going to go the concrete route.
I really do like your new gate and its beautiful shape. And cherry on the cake, the pictures of Jack and CC are awesome. They made me smile. Have a nice day.
Growing up in Chicago, we always called that narrow space between the houses a “gangway.” Not sure why!
Yes! A gangway! We’ve heard it called that too.
This is exactly what we need to do. We have a chain link fence separating the front and back yard right now but our little dog sneaks right through it and the side of the house! He might be small but he likes to boss the whole neighborhood around with his barking :)
Love this! We just started planning something similar to keep our toddler contained in the backyard, after one too many escape attempts into the street in front of our house. This is a great resource, and I like how it’s functional AND aesthetically pleasing. :)
Did Jack have a little surgery that I missed? I see a shave mark on his butt, but he looks good! I hope it was minor. :)
Thank goodness, it WAS minor. Just a little cyst that needed to be removed… back in JANUARY. Poor guy still hasn’t grown all his hair back!
I LOVE the puppy pictures!! They are so sweet!
CC’s face is everything! everything.
Great job! It looks Vargo Tuff! Love the fact that you were able to use the stone wall for the latch.
Jack and CC seems ecstatic about this improvement. They’re just TOO cute!
“Race Track” BAH HA HA AH AH HA!!!!!
Vroom Vroom Vroom…
Puppies! We built a similar fence on our side yard to keep the chickens in their area. Except it’s completely crooked because the wall it’s attached to is crooked. What people don’t tell you about chickens, though, is that they do what they want and just hop the fence. And foster puppies totally fit under it. So basically… our fence is pointless. AND yours is much prettier ;)
That is hilarious! Thank you for that visual!
Yay for great neighbors! They can be hard to come by.Love the gate – really impressive that you made it!!
Love the cute pit lips and nose ;) and of course the gate is great too ;)
Your gate looks fantastic! You’ve inspired me to change ours too! Thank you for the wonderful giveaway.
fairyfractal at gmail dot com
Hi Kim – I only recently came across this great post of yours in my research for a side yard gate. We have a width of just about 60″. Do you think we can duplicate your plans here for that kind of width? Thanks! :)
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What length/size are the screws?
I believe we used 1.5″ exterior deck screws. Hope this helps!
Such a sweet dogs!! The gate looks awesome, you guys did a great job! My husband and I got our fence redone by a local contractor. We choose a <a href=”https://eprivacylink.com/products/trex-composite-fencing/”>composite fence</a> and they installed an outdoor gate for the fence as well. You are way more handy than us- I don’t know what we would have done if we had to create and install the gate ourselves haha!
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