Gates, Fences, and Brick Laying


When I first moved onto my property, I knew that I would eventually want to install a driveway gate to keep thieves, nosy neighbors, property appraisers, etc off of my land.  Both I and my neighbor share a driveway off of the main road, and she was the one that actually brought it up to me.  I’ve been planning on doing this all summer, but now that the rains have come and the ground is softening up, it’s time to pull the trigger.


I looked at a lot of gates, but settled on one made by Alekogates.  Aleko makes a lot of cheap gate (and other) accessories, but it seems that a separate company makes their gates and helps distribute their Chinese merchandise.  The company is in Kent, Washington, and actually answered my questions when I emailed them.  Their gates are cheaper (by FAR) than a lot of other companies, and even though they may not be as sturdy, I wasn’t planning on building something that could survive a car ramming it.  In my mind, the gate should do the following:

  1.  Keep out casual thieves, or people trying to case my/the neighbors property
  2. Keep out people that are lost (get a lot of that, due to Google and Apple maps sending people down my driveway)
  3. Keep out fish and wildlife, tax appraisers, land use, etc

Realistically, the gate won’t do this:

  1. Keep out a determined thief
  2. Hold up to a car ramming it
  3. Provide security

Because of what it cant do, I decided not to buy a more expensive and sturdy gate, and I also decided against pickets.Pickets would be great for stopping someone trying to climb it, but realistically there are several other easy egress areas onto my property, and anyone climbing it would be taking a large risk to themselves.


The next big decision was type of gate, of which there is sliding, single swing, dual swing.  I discarded sliding right away, way more expensive and difficult to install (especially on a gravel driveway).  Single swing is cheaper, but since I want the gates to open inward, and my driveway is on a slight incline, dual would be better.  The gate I picked is the one below, a dual open 14′ width Aleko Paris style.  It was $900 shipped, and comes with the posts and hinges.  Cheap!  I liked the line of detail slightly lower than halfway down, as it will help camouflage the openers.


Along with the gate, (hopefully) everything I need to fully complete the opening kit.  Since there will be no power run out this far to the gate, it will be 100% solar operated.  Other crap I purchased:

-Aleko 1300 opener kit with solar addon

-Aleko wired keypad (the wireless one that came in the above kit looked chintsy)

-Aleko keypad post

-2 extra remotes for above kit (neighbor needs one for each of her cars)

-Estate Swing exit wand (opens the gate automatically when you drive over it, nice for when you leave)

-Estate Swing low impact lock (latches/locks the 2 gates together automatically to prevent them from swinging open from deer/wind/etc)


I read a lot of reviews on gate openers and came to the conclusion that Aleko is “ok”, as long as you have it properly installed it operates smoothly with proper geometries.  The big-name Mighty Mule makes slightly better things, but not that much better, especially for 2-3x the cost.  I did opt for the better lock from Estate Swing, as the Aleko one didn’t appear to be very good, and the ES one is basically the industry standard.  All in, I paid $1980 for everything.


On one side of the gate, there is a 16′ run up a hill to my neighbors fence line.  On the other side, is a 40′ run to the neighbors tree line.  The 40′ run is a slight decline, but covered in tree stumps.  I did find a couple straight line paths through it with no stumps that I can run a fence, so this will set where the gate ends up too.  As far as the style of fencing, I’m not sure.  I think I might just do steel poles with wood fencing over, something like this:


I prefer metal poles for the longevity.  You can also clad the back side of them with more wood to hide them.  Because the fence will go up/down hill, I will probably go with a “racking” approach, instead of stepping.  I’ve never been a fan of stepping.


The gate is from a height of 5′ at the posts up to 6′ in the center, but it will be sitting about 6″ off the ground (more on this later), so the fence will be in the 5.5-6′ height range.



On each side of the gate posts, I am going to be putting in brick columns.  After doing a lot of research and trying to find ways to avoid learning a new craft (brick laying), I came to the conclusion that laying a solid brick column is by far way cheaper than any other option.  When I put in the gate posts, I’m going to also poor a connected pad on either side (tied to the post pour via rebar) to build the columns.  I will be going for this look except with the posts centered more with respect to the columns:


In addition to being decorative, the columns will also help keep the posts in place, due to a large amount of countering weight on the opposite side of the gate.  Tying the 2 pours together accomplishes this (I hope).

This past week I’ve been watching a lot of videos on brick laying, and have been acquiring tools and materials.  It started out looking pretty scary, but I’ll do a couple small sample projects and get the hang of it before tackling the columns.

Big tools purchased for this job so far are just a cement mixer ($170 from Harbor Freight, holds 2 80lb bags).  Unfortunately it is electric, so I should probably think about getting a generator (I should have one anyways to run my well pump in case of emergency).  I’m looking at a couple broken ones on Craigslist right now for cheap.

The gates arrive Monday, it’ll be time to pour concrete soon!

Gates, Fences, and Brick Laying

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