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.