Sagging Garden Gate

Introduction: Sagging Garden Gate

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

This is the gate at the side of our house. Although it is hung on two 4 x 4 posts (left side of the photo) and both have concrete footers, both began to lean a tiny amount toward the right side of the photo. That made the latch string hard to pull and the gate rubbed against the plate on the side of the house. 

If the 4 x 4 posts appear to lean to the left, that is only an illusion of perspective because of the camera angle. There was a large bush at my left elbow and I could not move farther to the left when I took the photo.

I did a search on Instructables and could not find anything similar to what I am showing here. Although my solution is very simple and may be obvious to many, this could be of help to someone who does not happen to think of it. Although this Instructable may not be as glamorous as preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse, there comes a time when all of us will deal with home repairs, and this is a common one.

Step 1: What Needs to Be Done

My wife wanted me simply to trim the gate at the side near the house. That would solve the problem for a short while, but in time the sagging would continue and the gate would need to be trimmed again. After a while, the vertical lines would no longer be parallel. And, the parts of the latch would no longer align. The parts of the latch would need to be re-aligned.

The tops of the two 4 x 4 posts need to be pulled away from the house slightly. The simple way to do that is to add a strut that will pull so as to shorten the red line I have laid over the photo. 

I used a rule to measure the length of the red line and I used an angle finder to determine the angle of the red line relative to the vertical lines.

The photo shows the outside or street view of the gate. I do not want to add a strut to this side, but to the inside of the fence. I also showed the outside of the gate because I am writing this Instructable after I made and installed the strut.

  • 1/8 x 3/4 x 4 inches strap iron
  • 1/8 x 1 x 3 inches strap iron
  • 3/8 inch concrete reinforcement bar
  • 1 inch angle iron
  • 5/16 inch threaded rod
  • 2 nuts 5/16 inch
  • 1 lag bolt 5/16 x 2 1/2 inches
  • 3 lag bolts 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches
  • paint
  • Hacksaw or angle grinder with a cutting wheel and a grinding wheel
  • Rule
  • Angle finder
  • Drill and bits
  • Welder
  • Wrenches for installing lag bolts and for making adjustments
  • Spring clamps

Step 2: The Strut in Place

This photo was taken from behind the gate, not from the street side. The strut I made is steel. There is welding. It also has two nuts on a threaded portion that makes it completely adjustable. Later I will mention a way this problem could be solved without welding. See the next steps for construction details.

Step 3: Threaded Rod

I welded some 5/16 inch threaded rod to the end of a piece of 3/8 inch concrete reinforcement bar. I made a wedge point on the end of the reinforcement bar for a more complete weld. After welding, I cut the threaded rod extension to the reinforcement bar to about 2 inches in length and filed the end so a nut can be placed onto the threads easily. 

Step 4: The Adjustment

The red line in step 1 is about 65 inches long. The reinforcement bar is in two pieces, each about 30 inches long. Add the length of the threaded rod and the two flat pieces that will anchor the strut on both ends, and the total length of the strut is 65 inches. 

I used an "L"-shaped piece of angle iron for part of the adjustment. The threaded rod passes through a hole in the angle and the adjustment is set with two nuts. The angle is welded to the other piece of reinforcement bar. I probably used heavier, thicker steel than was necessary, but I was not certain how much tension would be needed to pull the 4 x 4 posts back into alignment. 

Step 5: The Bottom Mounting Plate

The bottom mounting plate is a piece of 1/8 inch strap iron 3/4 inch wide and about 4 inches long. The welded section has an inch or so of overlap for a good strong bead. I used three holes with three 1/4 inch lag bolts each 1 1/2 inches long. Because of the way the fence is constructed, very little of the 4 x 4 post is available for mounting the plate. That is why I used multiple lag bolts.

Step 6: The Top Mounting Plate

I used 1/8 inch strap iron 1 inch wide. The top mounting bolt is a 5/16 inch lag bolt 2 1/2 inches long.

Step 7: Installation

Paint the strut. I rubbed the parts down with lacquer thinner to remove oils. I used gray primer followed by black enamel.

I bolted the two sections of the strut together at the adjustment. I left most of the threaded portion available above the angle so I could tighten the adjustment as much as I want later. Then I mounted the top of the strut. Next I mounted the bottom of the strut. Then I tightened the adjustment until the two parts of the latch aligned for smooth operation. 

No welder? The cheapest possible way to pull two posts to one side so the gate hangs straight would be to pound a large nail into the posts at the top and bottom of the line the strut defines. Run at least two plies of fairly heavy steel wire between the nails. Use a flat paddle, like a paint stirrer, to twist and hold the twist in the wire.



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    20 Discussions

    Phil, I think you put that strut upside down / backwards. It should pull up the post where the door is hinged, I think.

    6 replies

    Osvaldo, think of the two posts as the long sides of a parallelogram. Make a little test model of a parallelogram with hinged corners. It could be cardboard and toothpicks. Squeeze on opposite corners and see which way the sides move. Remember that the lower right corner is anchored and immovable. The upper left corner can move, even though the lower left corner is also anchored.

    The strut pulls. Pulling as shown brings the top of the left post (in the photo of the actual strut in place, not of the red line) to the right, which raises the gate. When the top of the left post moves a little to the right, the wood pieces between it and right post also move the top of the right post to the right.

    Placing the strut from the top of the right post to the bottom of the left post would not raise the left post, but would pull the top of both posts farther to the left and the gate would sag even more.

    Hi Phil, I've read over the years that one reason gates sag is because the supports on the gate itself are usually installed "backwards". Instead of a "Z" the supports should make a upside down Z. Note that in the image, the hinges would be on the right. Here's one site's explanation.

    This is another good explanation from Made by John, although the link may be flaky.


    Perhaps that is a possible reason, although a "Z" in any orientation provides two triangles for bracing, and any triangle is inherently very rigid.

    I had a similar problem a few years back...
    The side door was a dutch door (or should i say doors? one upper door and one lower door) made from heavy iron-wood, which is very good for our door use.. But our "carpenter" wasn't very good at carpentry.. the joints were not tight and within a month the doors starts to lean to the frame and the top on the bottom one..
    Limited on experience, and this 'ible isn't up yet, I only attached a rod diagonally from lower-swing-corner to top-hinge-corner on each door (top door and bottom door). I drilled and screwed the rod in place while wedging the door up more than actually needed. It worked well for half a year, then we sold the place and i don't know if it's still good after that.. 

    Your solution is way better than mine, I'll keep it in mind for next time.. :)
    If you have (or if it's easy to get), might also use two bolt-and-nut sets, one normal threaded, and the other reverse threaded, and weld them like a cable tensioner. (

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring me again Phil!

    1 reply

    Thank you for looking and for commenting, also for sharing what you did. Your solution should work. It is limited on making later adjustments, if needed. I thought about a turnbuckle, and found a very light-duty turnbuckle in my things. I also enjoy the opportunity to get some welding practice whenever I can and often look for a solution that involves welding to make what I need.

    Women and children [and a few smart men] run screaming when I try to use a welder. As such, I have a couple kits in my parts storage that came from a big box store (via a garage sale). These use cables, instead of bar. Like yours, they can be adjusted from time to time to compensate for settling, or, in their case, stretching of the cable or wire. I've used a couple kits on customer gates and they work well.

    Initially, before I knew of the kits, I just picked up some high tensile wire, eight of the crimp clamps and a turn buckle.

    I drilled a couple holes in the gate, a couple inches apart (so the wire wouldn't pull through the wood) and diagonally from each other (e.g., top right and bottom left). This allowed me to run the wire through one hole and to loop back, to be crimped to itself.

    After I put the crimp clamps on (they have to be on before you run the wire/cable though a hole or eye), I ran the wire through one of the holes I had just drilled at the top or bottom, looped the wire back through the hole near it and into the crimp clamp.

    Before each crimp, when the cable or wire was going through the wood or when connecting to the other side of the turnbuckle, I pulled the wire as snug as I could. This reduces the amount of adjustment initially required at the turnbuckle, leaving more adjustment capability for future adjustments. If the fence was sagging a great deal, you could support it to allow you to take up more slack, before securing the other half of the turnbuckle.

    I cut the wire long enough to connect to the turnbuckle, which I installed at about the center of the gate. Again, with the crimp clamp already on, I fed the wire through an eye of the [fully extended] turnbuckle, looped it back into the crimp clamp and crimped it.

    I then repeated the process for the opposite end.

    Once done, it was just a matter of adjusting the turnbuckle, until the gate was where I wanted it.

    All that said, your method would be a far more reliable system. It isn't going to stretch any time soon.

    1 reply

    Thank you for looking at my Instructable and for describing your method from your past experiences. Anyone who looks at this Instructable will have the benefit of considering what you have done. That will be valuable to those who do not weld.

    I would wager your welding is probably better than you hint. I have welded a fair amount with a stick welder and that has gone fairly well for me most of the time. When I got a flux core wire feed welder I could not see any of the joint to know if the bead was on the joint or wandering away from it. Then I discovered I needed new batteries in my auto-darkening helmet. Suddenly I can see what I am doing and my welding improved tremendously. Someone on YouTube suggested moving the arc in the pattern of squiggles, like the tail of a pig or like a series of cursive examples of the letter "e". It works pretty well.

    Thanks. I do not know if the home improvement stores have anything like the strut I made. I have not seen anything, although I remember a lighter version many years ago for wooden screen doors.

    You can get anti-sag gate kits at most hardware stores that consist of wire rope, a turnbuckle, crosby clamps and mounting brackets/hardware. They're inexpensive and easy to install but your solution seems a lot sturdier and easier to turn into a decorative fix. Nicely done!

    Thanks. I have not seen the anti-sag kits. My thinking has been corrupted by the Instructables way. I always assume I need to develop a fix without checking to see if one exists.

    Great job Phil.
    I did pretty much the same thing to a sagging driveway gate years ago using chain and a turnbuckle.
    You solution looks much nicer however.
    God Bless.

    1 reply

    Thanks. I figured my fix could not be too unique. Still, a neighbor said he also would have simply trimmed the gate. At first I thought I would not make an Instructable of this, but decided there may be someone who could benefit from it. A blessed Easter celebration to you!

    Thank you. I am not so familiar with electric guitars. It is always interesting that there really are seven basic machines we combine and employ in various ways to do myriads of things.