How to Mount a Gate on Unlevel Ground

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So you've built a fence, and it's now time to mount your gate. Unfortunately, the ground where you wanted the gate is anything but level. The methods for mounting a gate in this situation may depend on several factors, including whether or not the gate is prefabricated or will be built before hanging, the appearance of the gate and surrounding fence area, and whether or not the fence will be expected to contain a pet.

Things You'll Need

  • Gate frame and fence boards or prefabricated gate
  • Hinges
  • Hinge hardware
  • Pencil
  • Ratchet set or crescent wrench
  • Wood screws
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Gate latch
  • Safety goggles
  • Level
  • Choose the most level spot for your gate when constructing the fence. If the slope is very slight, then it may be possible to level the area with a shovel before mounting your gate. If you are unsure about the slope of the ground by viewing it, use a level, and continue checking the angle with the level as you remove dirt with your shovel. If it is not possible to pick an entirely level area or to level the ground, adjustments must be made when mounting.

  • Determine the location, position and swing of the gate using measurements from your gate frame. Hang your gate on the lowest level post in relation to the slope so that it will swing freely after hanging. Different types of hinges may be used, two of those are t-hinges and strap hinges. Strap hinges may be required if you want your gate positioned flush with the remainder of the fence, but what you gain in aesthetics, you may lose in strength of your attachment if your bolt must travel through fence slats before embedding into the post. For the purpose of this article, t-hinge use will be described.

    Position the short side of each t-hinge on the inside of your gate post so that it will be at a right angle to the remainder of the hinge when the gate is closed. Offset the moving part of each hinge slightly from the post to allow it to open and close freely. Mark the location for the bolts with a pencil or other appropriate marking device and pre-drill holes in the marked locations on the gate post. Attach the hinge to the gate post using a ratchet or crescent wrench and heavy duty bolts. Securely prop or have someone hold the gate frame firmly in position and attach the long side of each hinge into the gate frame by pre-drilling the holes through the holes in the hinge and into the 2-by-4 on the gate frame, inserting the heavy-duty bolt into the pre-drilled holes with a ratchet or wrench. Make sure the gate frame swings freely before proceeding.

  • Prop the gate frame closed or have someone hold it closed. Using a drill and wood screws, position the fence slats in place and pre-drill the holes through the fence slats and into the gate frame and then insert the wood screws in the holes to attach to the frame, staggering the boards to follow the slope of the land. Generally, each board will need at least 4 screws-two to attach to the top of the gate frame and two to attach to the bottom. Once all boards are attached, test the swing of the gate again to make sure it opens freely. Make any adjustments to the fence boards as necessary. Constructing your gate in this way allows you to leave a smaller gap at the bottom if needed. Lay patio stones or other material underneath the gate threshold to discourage digging. This should prevent most pets from escaping.

  • Mount your gate according to manufacturer instructions if you have a pre-constructed gate, making sure to hang the gate with enough clearance at the bottom to allow for the slope of the land when opening. Depending on the construction and type of hinges used, if may be possible to offset the top and bottom hinges slightly so that they are not in vertical alignment to allow reduction in the gap at the bottom of the gate. The bottom hinge will need to be aligned further from the inside of the gate than the top hinge. You may wish to consult a fence professional to prevent making several attempts to accomplish this. Using a prefabricated gate may make it more difficult to contain a pet due to the width of the gap at the bottom.

  • Mount the desired latch using the hardware provided. Different types of latches may be purchased at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Tips & Warnings

  • Notch the fence boards around hinges, if necessary, to allow free movement of your gate.
  • Close any gaps due to the offset of the gate, if desired, with fence board portions or scrap wood.
  • Caution should always be exercised and proper safety equipment worn when working with power tools.

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References

  • Photo Credit wooden gate image by Kathy Burns from Fotolia.com
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