In its simplest form, a gate is nothing more than an outside door that serves as a portal to and from your yard or garden. However, it is also an integral piece of architecture and, therefore, an extension of your home that ideally should compliment it. If you live in a castle, the gate style for you will likely be massive and impressive---in keeping with the monumental scale of your structure---but if your aim is country or cottage style, a rustic gate will perform the same function on a more modest scale.
By definition rustic is associated with simple, unsophisticated country life, so as you search for suitable gate plans, focus on straightforward, uncomplicated designs and materials. Metalwork generally has little place in rustic gates except as hardware, so skip the wrought iron and choose materials like planks, pickets or even small branches to build your gate. If you do not plan to paint or seal your wooden gate, choose woods that weather well, like cedar or redwood.
Rustic style tends to make use of local materials that blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment, so you may utilize stonework as well as wood in the construction of gateposts.
When deciding whether to build a solid plank gate or an open weave with branches or pickets, think about the fence that will connect with your gate. It may be shorter or taller, somewhat more decorative or elaborate, but the underlying materials and style should match the fence. A solid, sturdy plank fence works best with stone walls.
Consider the purpose of your gate. If this is a garden or utility gate, it should be wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow or lawn tractor. An entry gate may only need to be wide enough for pedestrian traffic.
Color and decorative elements should complement the house and nearby architecture such as garden sheds for an integrated look.
Building the Gate
Opt for the simplest plan that incorporates the look you desire. Sites such as BuildEasy.com supply many free plans that work well for beginners, including a basic garden gate design. Unless you're an experienced carpenter, choose a sturdy but simple design over an elaborate project calling for complicated joinery.
Follow instructions---especially as concerns anchoring of the gate posts---to insure a sag-free, fully functional gate. Choose hardware that will adequately support and latch the gate, as well as conform to your chosen style.