Garden Arbor/Gate

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Project by DannyBoy posted 05-12-2008 09:32 PM 7281 views 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m still in process of designing this one. My wife and I are dividing up the back yard between a garden for her and a habitat place for the dog. We already have up some fencing which may or may not be temporary. The main gate between the two yards is something that we wanted to be relatively easy to pass through but also a focal point for the middle of the yard that can stay (and look like it belongs) even if the rest of the fence is taken down (which is likely when we sell the house).

The basic requirements: 1) 4ft wide gate for passage of yard equipment (no current equipment over 30”) 2) Be weather resistant (no PT lumber allowed) 3) Have an arbor or pergola style top 4) Trellis on each side 5) Room on beams for hanging plants 6) Gate must be at least 5’ tall to keep dog in

So far I am still planning using a trusty note book and Google Sketchup. The images I have so far are the arbor with trellis without the gate installed. I’m working on the gate design now and will add it later. I’m hoping for all lumber to be cedar and to avoid using PT for environmental and safety reasons.

I do have a couple of questions for some you more experienced builders out their. The plan reflects using four 4×4x8’ cedar posts for the main supports. Those will be sunk 1’ into the ground with cement footers. The top is all 2×6 cedar. So here are my questions: 1) Will the 4×4 posts be strong enough to support the arbor/pergola top and withstand most winds (properly bolted of course)? 2) Should I bury a spacer between the posts on all sides about 6” down? (I read this helps with stability but I’m not convinced it is necessary.) 3) Is 1ft deep cement footers deep enough or do I need to adjust my plan?

Thanks for any feedback, guys!

~Danny Boy

-- He said wood...

4 comments so far

View Randy Sharp's profile

Randy Sharp

363 posts in 3911 days

#1 posted 05-12-2008 11:30 PM

Hey Danny Boy,

I’ve built several of these. 1)The 4×4 will support the weight as shown, especially if you double-bolt all the way through both crossbeams. 2)No spacers needed. 3) I’d go at least 18” deep. Spend the extra bucks on 10-footers and sleep well later during those stormy, windy nights.

Best wishes on a successful project! Your wife will love it.

-- Randy, Tupelo, MS ~ A man who honors his wife will have children who honor their father.

View Canexican's profile


108 posts in 3916 days

#2 posted 05-12-2008 11:41 PM

I have also built a couple of these and for stability, the top angle brackets are where you are going to get all of you side to side movement solved. Make sure that those are well planned out and also anchored with either lag bolts or I like to use carrige bolts. You can get creative to cover both mechanical fasteners. If the material is damp let it dry out a couple of day and tighten the fasteners again. Remember to use coated or stainless steel fasteners if you do not want any of those ugly black streaks that form from the tain in the cedar. I agree with Randy to go at least 18” deep.

I am also planning to build a large pergola over my back deck, and used google sketup for that.

Goodluck, post some pics once you are done.


View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4338 days

#3 posted 05-13-2008 01:44 AM

If I put wood in the ground I typically go 24” deep and I put gravel for drainage under the leg. This is all tamped and then you can use concrete around the leg to hold it. The leg is not entirely encased in concrete and it has a way for water to escape out the bottom. I have pulled out plenty of posts for decks and fences that would have lasted much longer if they could have drained on the underside.

You really don’t even need to set the post in concrete if you tamp the dirt. Most people use concrete because they don’t like the work of tamping. I have to admit that I am part of this group.

Also, you can pour concrete piers and have the posts mounted on the top of the concrete above ground. Trim around the bottom of the legs will hide any fastening devices to attach the legs to the concrete. In the future, the posts can be replaced and new ones attached to the concrete. The concrete should be formed nicely so that it looks pleasing.

I live in Montana and I don’t know if that will make a difference for depth. At 24” I am not getting below our frostline anyway. By the time I add a few inches of gravel (2 or 3), I still have plenty of post in the ground to stand up to whatever weather has to dish out.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4338 days

#4 posted 05-13-2008 01:47 AM

From an aesthetic point of view consider this:

Look at using 6×6 legs. I have been going to this dimension because 4×4’s usually look anemic for the yard structures like decks and pergolas.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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