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Garden Cast Iron Gates

Updated on May 23, 2012

Imagine a serene garden whose green foliage and beautiful flowers delight the eye. The layout of gardens vary according to style, some with specified sections demarcated with linear borders and paths and others with the free-flowing inspiration from nature. Formal gardens particularly incorporate hard-scape elements including rocks and pavers, and often these gardens feature gates that grace their entrances as a part of a fence that encloses it from their neighboring landscapes. One durable, long-lasting gate is the cast-iron gate.

A cast iron gate and fence lines a field at Brodsworth Hall, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom
A cast iron gate and fence lines a field at Brodsworth Hall, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom | Source

What Does Cast Iron Come From?

From pig iron – a combination of iron, carbon manganese, phosphorus, sulfur and silicon in the following, respective percentages: 92, 4, 0.6, 1.5 and 2 – the forging of cast iron occurs. The second melting of the cast iron removes contaminants and allows for the addition of metal alloys and iron scraps to the mix.

Pig iron gets its name from the molds used to shape the melted iron, since they looked like a row of feeding pigs once filled. The difference between pig iron and wrought iron is the purer, higher percentage of iron found in the wrought iron than the pig iron. Wrought iron has a 99-percent composition of iron.

A Little History

One might wonder how long cast iron has been available as a product, and it is interesting to know that the Chinese have produced cast iron and cast-iron products for over 2,700 years – that's 2,400 years before Europe learned this skill. The Chinese are also credited with the formation of cast-iron gates, as well as a range of products from weaponry to cookware.

By the 18th century European blacksmiths were forging cast-iron gates, and the style of these gates are amongst the most popular designs today.

The preference for cast-iron gates over wrought-iron ones includes their affordability and availability. Blacksmiths find the material easy to work with, so home and business owners can design a unique or replicated-style gate and expect to receive it with confidence. Also the installation of a cast-iron gate is pretty straightforward. Customers also have the option of ordering a pre-made garden gate, since cast-iron gate producers often offer a catalog of styles. This route saves on the custom-gate expense but potentially yields a near-custom look to the landscape and garden.

The Cast-Iron Gate Preservation

Beyond the aesthetics of having a cast-iron gate decorate the garden is the need to maintain the metal from the weather elements. At least once a year – and more preferably two times a year in the spring and the fall – season the cast iron with an oil-based product formulated for the gate. If the gate has an enamel coat of paint, inspect and touch up the paint as needed, or give it a new coat of paint.

Think about the color of the gate. The most typical color is black, but other colors prevail as homeowners boldly select colors they enjoy seeing on their gates. Solid white or earthen tones work in unison with the style and architecture of a neighboring house or building. But an interesting addition of color uses a patina of bluish hues that mimic the weather beating exposed copper takes to the seasonal changes. On a cast-iron gate in a floral garden, the gate will become the design focal point of the garden.

The protection of the seasoning or paint lessens the possibility of rust forming on the gate and lengthens its life for many years of visual and functional enjoyment.


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