Title:
Lightweight, interlocking retaining wall system for use in outdoor and indoor landscaping and the like
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A retaining wall system for forming a retaining wall on the ground is provided. The retaining wall system comprises a stackable retainer block having a top wall and a bottom wall. The top wall has at least a first receptacle and the bottom wall has at least a first projection insertable into the ground with each projection being receivable within a corresponding receptacle of an adjacent retainer block. The retainer block further comprises a longitudinal axis defining a first longitudinal half and a second longitudinal half and a transverse axis defining a first transverse half and a second transverse half wherein the retainer block is both symmetrical about the longitudinal axis and symmetrical about the transverse axis.



Inventors:
Devoe, Alan R. (Arvada, CO, US)
Application Number:
09/908425
Publication Date:
01/23/2003
Filing Date:
07/18/2001
Assignee:
DEVOE ALAN R.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D29/02; (IPC1-7): E02D5/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LEE, JONG SUK
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EMERY L. TRACY (ATTORNEY AT LAW P.O. Box 1518, Boulder, CO, 80306, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A retaining wall system for forming a retaining wall on the ground, the retaining wall system comprising: a stackable retainer block having a top wall and a bottom wall, the top wall having at least a first receptacle, the bottom wall having at least a first projection insertable into the ground, each projection being pivotally receivable within a corresponding receptacle of an adjacent retainer block.

2. The retaining wall system of claim 1 wherein the top wall of the retainer block has a second receptacle and the bottom wall has a second projection, wherein upon stacking multiple retainer blocks in an overlapping fashion, the first projection of a first block is pivotally receivable within the second receptacle of a second retainer block.

3. The retaining wall system of claim 1 wherein the top wall has a single receptacle and the bottom wall has a single projection.

4. The retaining wall system of claim 1 and further comprising: a top retainer block having a substantially planar top wall and a bottom wall, the bottom wall having at least a first projection pivotally receivable within a receptacle in an adjacent retainer block.

5. The retaining wall system of claim 1 wherein each projection is completely receivable within a receptacle.

6. The retaining wall system of claim 1 wherein each projection and each receptacle has a substantially circular cross-sectional configuration.

7. The retaining wall system of claim 1 wherein the retainer block is constructed from a resin material.

8. The retaining wall system of claim 7 wherein the retainer block is substantially hollow, and further comprising: an aperture formed in the retainer block for receiving a filler material.

9. The retaining wall system of claim 8 and further comprising: a cap securable within the aperture.

10. The retaining wall system of claim 1 wherein each retainer block is symmetrical about a longitudinal axis and further wherein each retainer block is symmetrical about a transverse axis.

11. A retainer block for constructing a retaining wall, the retainer block comprising: a longitudinal axis defining a first longitudinal half and a second longitudinal half; and a transverse axis defining a first transverse half and a second transverse half; wherein the retainer block is symmetrical about the longitudinal axis; and further wherein the retainer block is symmetrical about the transverse axis.

12. The retainer block of claim 11 wherein the retainer block has a top wall and a bottom wall, the top wall having at least a first receptacle, the bottom wall having at least a first projection insertable into the ground, the first projection further being pivotally receivable within a first receptacle of an adjacent retainer block.

13. The retainer block of claim 12 wherein the top wall of the retainer block has a second receptacle and the bottom wall has a second projection, wherein upon stacking multiple retainer blocks in an overlapping fashion, the first projection of a first block is pivotally receivable within the second receptacle of a second retainer block.

14. The retainer block of claim 11 wherein the retainer block has a substantially planar top wall and a bottom wall, the bottom wall having at least a first projection pivotally receivable within a receptacle in an adjacent retainer block.

15. The retainer block of claim 1 wherein the retainer block is constructed from a resin material.

16. The retainer block of claim 15 wherein the retainer block is substantially hollow, and further comprising: an aperture formed in the retainer block for receiving a filler material.

17. A method for constructing a retaining wall from a plurality of retainer blocks, the method comprising: forming a receptacle in each retainer block; forming a projection in each retainer block; stacking the retainer blocks; and inserting the projection of one of the retainer blocks into the receptacle of an adjacent retainer block.

18. The method of claim 17 and further comprising: forming each retainer block through a rotational molding process or a blow molding process.

19. The method of claim 17 and further comprising: forming two receptacles in each retainer block; and forming two projections in each retainer block, each receptacle pivotally receivable within any receptacle.

20. The method of claim 17 and further comprising: a longitudinal axis on each retainer block defining a first longitudinal half and a second longitudinal half; and a transverse axis on each retainer block defining a first transverse half and a second transverse half; wherein the retainer block is symmetrical about the longitudinal axis; and further wherein the retainer block is symmetrical about the transverse axis.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates generally to a retaining wall system for use in outdoor and indoor landscaping and the like and, more particularly, it relates to a lightweight, interlocking retaining wall system which are easily maneuverable by a single person during construction of the retaining wall to accomplish a wide variety of retaining wall forms and shapes.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] In the past, various building blocks for construction of retaining and landscaping walls have previously been proposed. Typically, as found in most home improvement and discount stores, these building blocks are constructed from a concrete material. While the conventional concrete material building blocks provide a durable, long-lasting retaining wall, there are many disadvantages associated with using concrete material building blocks for construction of a retaining wall.

[0005] First, concrete building blocks are extremely heavy for a single person and thereby difficult to move about the landscaping site to the appropriate location of the retaining wall. In a typical situation, the landscaping contractor or the do-it-yourself homeowner must transport and carry these weighty building blocks from the point of purchase to the predetermined landscaping site. The landscaping contractor or the homeowner must then transport and carry the building blocks from the transport vehicle to the actual site location of the proposed retaining wall at the landscaping site. The increased weight of the concrete building blocks makes transport a very difficult and tiresome challenge even for the most well conditioned persons. Furthermore, the number of building blocks which can be transported is directly limited to the maximum carrying capacity of the transport vehicle and any on-site transportation vehicle such as wheelbarrows and the like.

[0006] Second, concrete building blocks are extremely difficult to arrange and stack to conform to the desired shape and size of the final desired retaining wall. Once the first course of any retaining wall system has been positioned on the prepared ground site, it is very difficult, due to the weight of the concrete building blocks, to manipulate the retaining wall into the desired form and shape. Additional courses compound the problem of forming the retaining wall system into the desired form and shape since once the first course has been positioned, further maneuverability of the retaining wall has been reduced due to the ever increasing weight.

[0007] Third, concrete building blocks typically require multiple persons or multiple days to form the retaining wall thereby increasing the expense and time for constructing the retaining wall. The concrete building blocks typically have quite expensive transportation costs due to the weight of the building blocks. Furthermore, transporting and carrying the concrete building blocks quickly exhaust the average landscaper or homeowner such that any retaining wall beyond the most basic size will quickly tire the lone landscaper or homeowner thereby increasing the time necessary to complete the retaining wall.

[0008] Finally, concrete and wood building blocks are subject to wear from environmental and other harsh elements. Over time, weather elements, especially with freeze/thaw cycles, will degrade concrete and wood building blocks causing these blocks to degrade and compromising the integrity of the retaining wall.

[0009] Accordingly, there exists a need for a retaining wall system for use in outdoor and indoor landscaping and the like which is lightweight thereby allowing a landscape contractor or homeowner to easily transport the building blocks from an acquisition location to the landscaping site. Additionally, a need exists for a retaining wall system for use in outdoor and indoor landscaping and the like which can be easily assembled in a minimal amount of time with minimal labor expense. Furthermore, there exists a need for a retaining wall system for use in outdoor and indoor landscaping and the like which can be easily manipulated to achieve the desired form and shape of the desired retaining wall system.

SUMMARY

[0010] The present invention is a retaining wall system for forming a retaining wall on the ground. The retaining wall system comprises a stackable retainer block having a top wall and a bottom wall. The top wall has at least a first receptacle and the bottom wall has at least a first projection insertable into the ground with each projection being receivable within a corresponding receptacle of an adjacent retainer block.

[0011] The present invention additionally includes retainer block for constructing a retaining wall. The retainer block comprises a longitudinal axis defining a first longitudinal half and a second longitudinal half and a transverse axis defining a first transverse half and a second transverse half wherein the retainer block is both symmetrical about the longitudinal axis and the transverse axis.

[0012] The present invention further includes a method for constructing a retaining wall from a plurality of retainer blocks. The method comprises forming a receptacle in each retainer block, forming a projection in each retainer block, stacking the retainer blocks, and inserting the projection of one of the retainer blocks into the receptacle of an adjacent retainer block.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] FIG. 1a is a front perspective view illustrating a retaining wall system, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 1b is an exploded front perspective view illustrating the retaining wall system of FIG. 1a, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 2 is a perspective view illustrating a main retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0016] FIG. 3 is a top view illustrating the main retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0017] FIG. 4 is an elevational side view of the main retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0018] FIG. 5 is an elevational end view of the main retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0019] FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating a half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0020] FIG. 7 is a top view illustrating the half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0021] FIG. 8 is an elevational side view of the half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0022] FIG. 9 is an elevational end view of the half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0023] FIG. 10 is a perspective view illustrating a top retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0024] FIG. 11 is a top view illustrating the top retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0025] FIG. 12 is an elevational side view of the top retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0026] FIG. 13 is an elevational end view of the top retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0027] FIG. 14 is perspective view illustrating a top half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0028] FIG. 15 is a top view illustrating the top half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention;

[0029] FIG. 16 is an elevational side view of the top half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention; and

[0030] FIG. 17 is an elevational end view of the top half retainer block of the retaining wall system of FIGS. 1a and 1b, constructed in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0031] As illustrated in FIGS. 1a and 1b, the present invention is a retaining wall system, indicated generally at 10, for use in creating an outdoor and indoor landscaping retaining wall 12 and the like. The retaining wall system 10 of the present invention provides lightweight, easily maneuverable retainer blocks 14 which can be easily assembled by a landscape contractor or homeowner to form the retaining wall 12 with minimal time and expense. In addition, the retaining wall system 10 of the present invention does not require additional tools or mechanisms to interlock the retainer blocks 14 together. Instead, the retainer blocks 14 are self-locking together, as will be described in further detail below.

[0032] The retainer blocks 14 of the retaining wall system 10 of the present invention include a main retainer block 16, a top retainer block 18, a half retainer block 20, and a top half retainer block 21. The main retainer block 16, the top retainer block 18, the half retainer block 20, and the top half retainer block 21 are interlockable together to form the retaining wall 12. In particular, the main retainer block 16, the top retainer block 18, the half retainer block 20, and the top half retainer block 21 are stacked upon each other in courses upon the ground to form the retaining wall 12 in a desired form, length, and height. As will be noted by a person skilled in the art, the retaining wall 12 can have multiple courses, i.e., a first or ground course, a second course, a third course, etc. Actual construction and interlockability of the retaining wall 12 utilizing the retainer blocks 14 of the retaining wall system 10 of the present invention will be described in further detail below.

[0033] As illustrated in FIGS. 2-13, the retainer blocks 14, i.e., the main retainer blocks 16 (FIGS. 2-5), the half retainer blocks 20 (FIGS. 6-9), the top retainer blocks 18 (FIGS. 10-13), and the top half retainer blocks 21 (FIGS. 14-17) of the retaining wall system 10 of the present invention each have a front wall 22, a back wall 24 substantially opposite the front wall 22, a first side wall 26 between the front wall 22 and the back wall 24, a second side wall 28 between the front wall 22 and the back wall 24 and substantially opposite the first side wall 26. Each retainer block 14 further includes a top wall 30 and a bottom wall 32 substantially opposite the top wall 30.

[0034] Each front wall 22 of the retainer blocks 14 can have a multitude of colors, shapes, and designs. In fact, each front wall 22 can be formed to have the same color and design as natural products such as boulders, stone, rock, or the like or can actually appear to be a concrete block without the many disadvantages associated with concrete blocks previously discussed.

[0035] Each first side wall 26 and the second side wall 28 of the retainer blocks 14 preferably have a substantially rounded configuration. The substantially rounded configuration of the first side wall 26 and the second side wall 28 allow the landscaping contractor or homeowner to position multiple retainer blocks 14 in a desired relation to each other on the same course to form a desired retaining wall system 10 shape such as curved, serpentine, straight, etc., as will be described in further detail below.

[0036] The retaining wall system 10 of the present invention includes an interlocking assembly for releasably, securely interlocking the retainer blocks together. To this end, the bottom wall 32 of the main retainer blocks 16 have at least a first projection 34 and a second projection 36 formed in a spaced relation along the bottom wall 32. The top wall 30 of the main retainer blocks 16 has at least a first receiving receptacle 38 and a second receiving receptacle 40 formed in a spaced relation along the top wall 30. Preferably, the first projection 34 is substantially opposite the first receiving receptacle 38 and the second projection 36 is substantially opposite the second receiving receptacle 40 such that when stacking the retainer blocks 14, either directly upon each other or in an overlapping manner, to form the retaining wall 12, each projection 34, 36 is receivable within one of the receptacles 38, 40 to interlock the retainer blocks 14 to each other.

[0037] The bottom wall 32 of the half retainer blocks 20 has only a first projection 34 and the top wall 30 of the half retainer blocks 20 has only a first receiving receptacle 38. As with the main retainer blocks 16, the first projection 34 substantially opposite the first receiving receptacle 38. It should be noted that the projections 34, 36 and the receiving receptacles 38, 40 of the retainer blocks 14 are completely insertable and completely receivable within each other retainer block 14 to allow interlocking stackability of the retainer blocks 14. Furthermore, preferably, the top retainer block 18 has a substantially planar top wall 30 to be used as the cap of the formed retaining wall 12.

[0038] In a preferred embodiment, each projection 34, 36 and each receiving receptacle 38, 40 have a substantially circular cross-sectional configuration. It is within the scope of the present invention, however, for each projection 34, 36 and each receiving receptacle 38, 40 to have a variety of cross-sectional configurations including, but not limited to, rectangular, square, oval, triangular, etc., so long as each projection 34, 36 is receivable within each receiving receptacle 38, 40 to releasably interlock adjacent retainer blocks 14 to form the retaining wall 12.

[0039] Each retainer block 14 further includes a longitudinal axis 42 defining a first longitudinal half 44 and a second longitudinal half 46 and a transverse axis 48 defining a first transverse half 50 and a second transverse half 52. Each retainer block 14 is symmetrical about both the longitudinal axis 42 and the transverse axis 48 such that the first longitudinal half 44 is sized and shaped substantially identical to the second longitudinal half 46 and the first transverse half 50 is sized and shaped substantially identical to the second transverse half 52.

[0040] Each of the retainer blocks 14, i.e., the main retainer blocks 16, the half retainer blocks 20, and the top retainer blocks 18 include a hole 54 in either the top wall 30, the back wall 24, the first side wall 26, or the second side wall 28. Each hole 54 allows the landscaping contractor or homeowner to fill each retainer block 14 with pea gravel or other filler material to increase the weight of each and maintain the integrity of the completed retaining wall 12. A cap (not shown) insertable into each hole 54 can be provided to seal the hole 54 and maintain the pea gravel or other filler material within the interior of the retainer blocks 14.

[0041] Preferably, the retainer blocks 14 are constructed from low-density polyethylene material and formed through a rotational molding process such that each retaining block 14 has a wall thickness of approximately one-eighth (⅛″) inch. It is within the scope of the present invention, however, to construct the retaining blocks 14 from any type of plastic or resin including, but not limited to, cross-link polyethylene material, high-density polyethylene material, etc. Furthermore, it is within the scope of the present invention to form the retaining blocks 14 through a different process with a wall thickness greater than approximately one-eighth (⅛″) inch or less than approximately one-eighth (⅛″) inch.

[0042] In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, each main retainer block 16 and each top retainer block 18 has a length of approximately eighteen (18″) inches and each half retainer block 20 and each top half retainer block 21 has a length of approximately nine (9″) inches. Furthermore, preferably, each retainer block 14 has a width of approximately twelve (12″) inches, at the widest point. It should be noted, however, that is within the scope of the present invention to have retainer blocks 14 with lengths greater than or less than the above-noted lengths and with widths greater than or less than the above-noted width.

[0043] The construction of the retaining wall system 10 of the present invention will now be described. A person skilled in the art will understand that the construction of the retaining wall system 10 can be accomplished in a variety of manners and the construction set forth below is only one example of construction.

[0044] As with the construction of many retaining walls 12, the first step is to prepare the ground onto which the retaining wall 12 will be constructed. The first or ground course of main retainer blocks 16 are then positioned upon the ground with the first projection 34 and the second projection 36 being situated into the ground. The first projection 34 and the second projection 36 assist in maintaining the position of the main retainer blocks 16 relative to the ground. Once the desired number of main retainer blocks 16 are positioned on the ground to achieve a desired retaining wall 12 length, each main retainer block 16 is filled with pea gravel or other filler material thereby adding additional weight and assisting in maintaining the main retainer blocks 16 in the desired position. A half retainer block 20 can be added on the end or ends of the first or ground course of the main retainer blocks 16, if desired, to achieve the desired length of the retaining wall 14.

[0045] Next, the second course of retainer blocks 14 is positioned upon the first course of retainer blocks 14. To construct the second course of the retaining wall 12, the second course of main retainer blocks 16 are positioned upon the first course of retainer blocks 14 in an overlapping manner such that the first receiving receptacle 38 of the second course of retainer blocks 14 receives the second projection 36 of the first course main retainer blocks 16. Each retainer block 14 is then filled with pea gravel or other filler material. Once again, a half retainer block 20 can be added at either end or both ends of the second course to achieve the desired length of the retaining wall 12.

[0046] Each additional course is positioned in a similar manner until the desired height of the retaining wall 12 is achieved. When the desired height has been reached, the top retainer blocks 18 are positioned on the top course of the retaining wall 12 in an overlapping manner and filled with pea gravel or other filler material. A top half retainer block 21 can be added on the end or ends of the top course of the top retainer blocks 18, if desired, to achieve the desired length of the retaining wall 14. Back fill of dirt or other landscaping material behind the retaining wall 12 can be accomplished as each course is formed or upon completion of the retaining wall 12, depending on the desires of the landscaping contractor or homeowner.

[0047] It should be noted that the retaining wall system 10 is not limited to the construction of straight retaining walls 12. In fact, the interaction between the projections 34, 36 and the receiving receptacles 38, 40 of the retainer blocks 14 allows the user to pivot the retainer blocks 14 relative to each other to accommodate any desired retaining wall 12 design including, but not limited to a curved retaining wall 12, a serpentine retaining wall 12, etc.

[0048] The retaining wall system 10 of the present invention provides retainer blocks 14 having many advantages over the disadvantages of conventional retainer blocks. The retainer blocks 14 of the retaining wall system 10 are substantially lighter than a typical concrete retainer block. Installation and construction of a retaining wall 12 utilizing the retainer blocks 14 of the present invention consumes minimal time and effort on behalf of a landscaping contractor or homeowner. The longevity of a retaining wall 12 utilizing the retainer blocks 14 of the present invention is comparable to typical concrete retainer blocks and the appearance of the retainer blocks 14 provide a natural look and feel for the environmentally conscious homeowner.

[0049] The foregoing exemplary descriptions and the illustrative preferred embodiments of the present invention have been explained in the drawings and described in detail, with varying modifications and alternative embodiments being taught. While the invention has been so shown, described and illustrated, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that equivalent changes in form and detail may be made therein without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention, and that the scope of the present invention is to be limited only to the claims except as precluded by the prior art. Moreover, the invention as disclosed herein, may be suitably practiced in the absence of the specific elements which are disclosed herein.