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Early Flowers

Crocus Cyclamen coum Hellebore 'Merlin' Snowdrop Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Fences and Gates

I hate to cloud a glorious day with an ugly image but I'm sharing a view of the garden that I'm not proud of and have been desperate to change ever since we moved in. Actually, the ginormous power lines behind our property is also an eyesore but I can't do anything about that.

The chain link fence, however, must finally be addressed and yesterday I made the decision to have it replaced. This fence divides the back garden from the driveway and while we are thankful to have the back fenced off, I hate the look. One of my goals for the winter months was to build the fence myself which, if you know me, is laughable. I think I could come up with something that might pass as decent but it would never be professional looking and I am hopeless when it comes to getting anything level or straight. So I've called the man who built our deck and pergola (you can see it on the top right) as well as our front fence and gates. He is phenomenal and will take a look next week.

I have a thing for gates, fences, walls, entrances, and driveways and have collections of photos saved on Pinterest. That comes in handy when contemplating a project like this but it also makes it difficult because there are so many that I love. I also want to choose something that doesn't clash with our mid-century style house. 

For the longest time, I've been admiring this panel on the side of a local fast food restaurant -

A light bulb went off and I thought I could do something like this along the fence without having to remove the chain link portion. In other words, build over it. I watched some videos online and discovered that this is a viable thing and easy to do. This is still on the table and I want to question the carpenter about it. I do like the fact that you would be able to see through to the other side and it would allow some air movement as well.

On the other hand, I like the solid, plain look of this fence -

But then I saw this and I think I like it better. This is the top contender at the moment. Of course, I tend to change my mind at the drop of a hat.

The next dilemma is choosing a gate to go with the fence. I love gates most of all and my Pinterest collection is a big one. My favorites are the barn-door type that you'd see in English gardens but I doubt that would look right with the fences I've shown above.

I like this one but maybe a bit too castle-ish?

And I absolutely love both of these


 In trying to stick with the mid-century modern look, I'm trying to focus on styles like this one.

 This is interesting and I like it but the cross window would have to go.

I like this one too and I was thinking the vertical panels would contrast with the horizontal slates on the fence? I don't know...

I do want a window in the door and this is one of my top favorites.

This one also is a top contender and probably #1 at the moment.

It is an overwhelming decision at the moment but I'm very excited about finally getting this accomplished. If you have suggestions, do share.



  1. All nice looking gates but to my eye they look mostly Craftsman style, or Mediterranean (the first and third examples). I've seen MCM gates that were simply a match of the fence, the horizontal slats with a bit of space in between; sometimes all slats of equal width, sometimes with narrower slats as an accent. Space between the slats at eye level would give you the "window" of visibility. Your plants are all so gorgeously grown, a fancy gate you do not need.

    "Breeze blocks" are classic MCM fences/walls, but a whole different size of project.

    1. Yeah, after looking at more images online last night, it looks like matching the gate is a common practice.

  2. I think you have excellent taste, Phillip, and I'm sure whatever you select in the end will be pleasing. I noted HB's reference to breeze blocks, which are mid-century modern classics but I personally like wood fences much more. My favorite gate is the fourth one. Whatever gate you choose will have to mesh well with the fence. I inherited a garden with more hedges than fences, a characteristic of the neighborhood I live in, but not the best way to keep intruders (like coyotes!) out.

    1. Thanks Kris. We have a huge laurel hedge along our east side and I swear it is going to be the death of me. So much work but very effective as a privacy border.

  3. I also tend so save photos of fences and gates; there are so many options out there I find selecting one design over another is a difficult task. The last fence photo and last gate photo will complement each other and your garden and home style. You'll most likely continue to tinker with the design until you get it just right. What an exciting project to look forward to.

    1. I will get more ideas from the guy who is doing it. He usually has good suggestions.

  4. Does anyone in PNW have irrigation systems? Maybe not, since you’re so prone to rain. But here in Georgia we are (overly) dependent on them, and they can quickly distort wood finishes, leaving an obvious arc where the spray washed off the stain. My stain that stays dry fades quickly here, too. It really should be touched up every year. Wish I had never started.
    But for sheer beauty, I vote for solid, plain #2.

    1. Jules, yes! They are quite common here. Our winters are wet but summers are not and it is typical to not get any rain at all from June to September.

  5. Oh what fun to have a new fence and gate. I know you will choose a splendid fence. To me the gate really sets the tone. I like the idea of a window in the gate too. Fun have a window to frame a view and you can see who it knocking.

  6. So many wonderful options! I LOVE the third option for the fence. I like the clean look, but that you get to peek into the garden from the more open portion on top. Now the garden gates-- that is hard. But I loved the third and the fourth options-- the third one has that secret garden vibe, while the fourth would go beautifully with the fence that has the open top. I am so excited to see this coming!


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