Nov 112011
Redwood Picket Gate
Gate and Arbor from recycled materials

There are times when you build something for your garden when you want it to look new and times when you want it to look like it’s always been there.

Hand hewn pickets make a beautiful fence

A garden gate from old Redwood pickets

When picking a gate design, you need to consider:

  • Form of the gate
  • Existing structures and style in your garden
  • Security issues
  • Strength and durability


These pickets were hand hewn and many years old. They came from a job where the owners wanted a new fence that looked more modern. Style changes. Into the back of my truck and home they went with me.

In the case of my garden, which is very informal and has Oak trees that are hundreds of years old this picket fits in perfectly.The hand hewn form of the pickets create a beautiful look that you can’t get from  milled lumber.

Since this is an interior gate, going from one part of the garden to another, it did not need to be terribly strong.  Just strong enough to keep the dog on one side.

Close up few of picket

Hand hewn pickets create interest

Another use of the pickets was for the railing coming down my stairs. When seen up close as in a railing, the pickets add interest and history to the stairs.

Using recycled pickets for railing

Hand hewn pickets for stair railings

It is becoming more common to find recycled materials. The trick is to find what works for your particular situation. When making design decisions, pay attention to what already exists in your garden so that there’s not too much mixing of styles. Find materials that are easy to work with. Have fun coming up with new ideas.


Nov 102011
Recycled Brick and wood go together well

Recycled brick steps with wood edge on a wood deck


When adding new structures to your garden such as steps, paths, trellises and gates be sure to consider using recycled materials. 

For the steps above I used bricks that someone else didn’t want anymore and that I had been storing for some “future” project.

We did a small remodel  in the living room, putting in sliding doors. This then required some steps down to the existing deck.  My first thought was to use the same wood as the deck.   But  I had the bricks and we needed something right away.We laid the bricks in front of the door on the wood deck.  They looked good, but posed two problems.  Though bricks are heavy, they tended to slip a little and were not entirely safe.  The second problem was bricks on wood held in moisture and would rot the deck.

brick step in process

Wood framing and metal shelf keep the steps dry and in place

Solutions to these problems were straight forward. We built a wood frame around the bricks with 2 x 4 Redwood and laid an old wire shelf underneath for drainage.  The wire shelf had just enough height to keep the bricks off the wood, but not so much as to change the height of the steps.

The final decision on the steps was an aesthetic one.  How many different materials can you use in one area and have it look unified? Using recycled materials is great, but throwing whatever you have at a project won’t work if it doesn’t look good.

Keep your design simple and it can look very elegant. Look around with an open mind and you might surprise yourself with what materials are available.

Mixed media works for me - Brick and Wood

Brick steps with wood edging look good on a wood deck

Tomorrow I’ll show you how I used someone’s throw away fence pickets to build a gate and a railing.

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