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This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/600,736 filed on Aug. 11, 2005.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to leaf bag support devices, and more particularly, the invention relates to a leaf bag stuffing device.
2. Description of the Prior Art
As long as people have had trees in their yards, they have had to rake up the leaves every fall and dispose of them, in order to save their lawn. Traditionally, people used to be able to rake their leaves into the street, and the city would come by with a street cleaning machine and vacuum up all of the leaves, and take them away. Prior to that, people use to make piles of leaves and burn them in their yards, until the EPA decided that there was too much pollution going into the air. Consequently, most cities require that their residents rake their leaves up, and place them in biodegradable lawn yard waste bags. These bags are generally 30-gallon bags and capable of holding 50 pounds of yard waste. They are sold at local stores and through the Department of Public Works of many cities. Conventional leaf bags are well known in the art, including one of the most common types of paper bags that are made of brown paper. These bags are recyclable and are favored by municipalities as they can be composted with the leaf contents since in the bags. However, they are hard to fill and they tip over easily.
These lawn bags are designed to be stuffed with leaves and other yard wastes, and placed by the curb for the city public works trucks to pick them up. As the lawn bags cost approximately $0.30 a piece, people would like to be able to stuff them as full as possible, while still maintaining the weight limit which is imposed by the city. However, with regards to leaves from one's yard, it is nearly impossible to go over the weight limit for a fifty-pound bag with pure leaves. Therefore, it is important that one be able to stuff as many leaves into the bag as possible.
During the operation of raking leaves and stuffing them into the bag, there have been many methods for filling the bags that residents employ. Some attempt to fold down the edges of the bag to give rigidity, or use the rake to stuff the leaves further down into the bag, or using two persons, if someone else is available, i.e. one to rake and one to stuff the bag. Needless to say, stuffing the bag with as many leaves as possible has become a difficult task. In order to maintain the upright position of the bag during the stuffing operation, there have been many inventions including the “Magic Loop™”, widely available in hardware stores, the “Ring™” for attaching to the side of a deck so that the leaves can be stuffed, among many other inventions for this purpose. I have purchased many of these inventions, and none of them have worked to my satisfaction. Consequently, I wanted to invent a new lawn bag stuffing device which would give the most support to the bag, while still allowing as many leaves as possible to be stuffed into the bag.
It would be of a great advantage to the industry to have a leaf bag stuffing device that would resist punctures and would also allow greater filling of the bag in order to achieve full capacity. Recycling centers allow approximately 50 pounds per bag, although most bags, as they are traditionally filled, are between 20 and 30 pounds. Therefore, there is more capacity that could be used in order to maximize the usage of the brown bags, which can be costly in great numbers.
Therefore, it is a desire of the industry to have provided a new means and device for stuffing leaf bags.
In accordance with the above-noted advantages and desires of the industry, the present invention provides a leaf bag stuffing device that is preferably self-supporting, and acts as a shield for puncturing. This device overcomes many of the aforementioned problems with the prior art because the present invention protrudes downwardly into the bag and prevents puncturing through the walls by sticks and debris.
Preferably, the leaf bag stuffing device of the present invention would be a one piece molded resin that would be easy to stack, to allow for easier shipping, and would further provide a puncture-proof shield for insertion into a leaf bag itself. Furthermore, the leaf bag stuffing device would preferably have legs on the exterior in order to support the bag in a manner which allows for the bag to be held up so that leaves can be raked up and lifted by the rake and put into the bag. After operation, the leaf bag stuffing device can be lifted up and removed, thereby leaving a full capacity load within the leaf bag for disposal.
The leaf bag stuffing device of the present invention is preferably of a size adapted to be received within a conventional yard waste bag, such as those that are provided by municipalities and hardware stores. It will include a chute inlet funnel to be inserted into the leaf bag, and legs, or a one-piece surround for supporting the chute up and around the leaf bag. It is most preferable to utilize legs around the outside to minimize the amount of plastic resin which is necessary to produce the leaf bag stuffing device, and furthermore, if one side of the chute is flat or contains a lip to be received on the ground, the leaves can be shoveled into the leaf bag if the leaf bag stuffing device is tipped on its side and allowed to rest on the ground. Obviously, the many embodiments for such a leaf bag stuffing device, including numerous legs, a round exterior, a rectangular exterior, or any other embodiment which would allow for maximum filling of the leaf bag.
Although the invention will be described by way of examples hereinbelow for specific embodiments having certain features, it must also be realized that minor modifications that do not require undo experimentation on the part of the practitioner are covered within the scope and breadth of this invention. Additional advantages and other novel features of the present invention will be set forth in the description that follows and in particular will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon examination or may be learned within the practice of the invention. Therefore, the invention is capable of many other different embodiments and its details are capable of modifications of various aspects which will be obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art all without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the rest of the description will be regarded as illustrative rather than restrictive.
For a further understanding of the nature and advantages of the expected scope and various embodiments of the present invention, reference shall be made to the following detailed description, and when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like parts are given the same reference numerals, and wherein;
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a leaf bag stuffing device made in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2a details another embodiment of the present invention in a perspective view;
FIG. 2b is a side elevational view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2a;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 4a is a top plan view of yet another embodiment;
FIG. 4b is a side elevational view of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4a; and FIG. 5 illustrates complementary is a waste masher, which is complementary to the leaf bag stuffing device of FIG. 1-4a.
In accordance with the objects and advantages of the present invention, the present invention discloses a lawn bag stuffing device which adds rigidity to the walls of a lawn bag, such that a great deal of material can be inserted into the bag, without puncturing the bag, or having the bag collapse in on itself, etcetera. In essence, this allows what is normally a two-person job to become a one-person job with the greatest of efficiency. As will be seen in the ensuing paragraphs, there are several different embodiments which will achieve the same purpose. All of them will have in common a similar feature of a funnel which is similarly shaped to the opening of a lawn bag extending downwardly from the top of the bag nearly to the bottom of bag. The fundamental feature is the funnel which will hold the bag open for stuffing. Although the funnel doesn't necessarily have to extend downwardly to the bottom of the lawn bag interior, it may prove helpful to prevent twigs and branches from poking through the bag. Further, legs may prove helpful to support the funnel, although they would not be necessary for all applications. With that overriding objective in mind, we look at the following embodiments.
Looking first to FIG. 1, there is shown a one-piece lawn stuffing bag device generally denoted by numeral 10. Although there are other options, this embodiment is preferably made of a one piece molded plastic similar to the stacking resin lawn chairs. In order to add a lightweight feature, the plastic may be lightweight. It may also be designed with a slight tapered chute to allow stacking for storage and shipment. The chute, or downwardly extending funnel, is slightly smaller than the interior dimensions of a standard city lawn bag. In the present invention lawn bag stuffing device 10 includes an inlet 12 which extends into a chute 14. Chute 14 fits into yard waste bag 16 through the bag opening 17. Legs 18 are used to make sturdy the stuffing device. Although legs are optional, in this embodiment, which is preferably made of a one piece molded resin, it is preferred to include them, as legs 18 add a dimension of stability. In operation, one would turn the lawn bag stuffing device upside down, and open a lawn bag and slide it down onto the chute while inverted. Then the combination of bag and stuffing device is then turned over so that the ground now supports the bottom of the bag as well as the legs on the stuffing device. The bag is then filled from above through the funnel and the chute until it is full, and the stuffing device is then lifted out of the bag. The bag may then be closed and dragged to the curb for proper disposal. Therefore, the bag stuffing device keeps the bag open for easy loading, and it also allows the bag to be filled with more rigid material, as rips on the side of the bag from twigs and branches will be reduced because the chute acts as protection for the sides of the bag. The chute may extend down to the bottom of the bag so that it rests on the ground, but may be of any advantageous depth.
Looking next to FIG. 2A, there is shown a lawn bag-stuffing device with the chute inlet funnel generally denoted by numeral 20 including a funnel extension 22 for insertion into yard waste bag 24 through bag opening 26. The legs 28 may be removable, and may be tubular for slipping into holes in the funnel section. Preferably, the tubular legs may include a four leg or a three-leg configuration. Funnel extension 22 is a removable collapsing plastic chute material which may attach to the top of the inlet funnel and slip into the waste bag. Again, as above, the funnel extension 22 is preferably of a dimension substantially equivalent to the interior dimensions and depth of a standard 30-gallon yard waste bag, so that it can slip inside and rest on the ground so as to protect the entire sides of the bag. FIG. 2B shows how the removable collapsing chute funnel extension 22 can butt up against the bottom of the funnel 20, so that downward pressure of the bag onto the funnel extension 22 will meet with resistance from funnel 20 both while the bag is being installed in its inverted position, as well as during the operation of stuffing the leaves into the bag.
FIG. 3 shows yet another embodiment of the present invention in which a round chute inlet funnel is generally denoted by the numeral 30 and is adapted for receiving funnel extension 32, whether as an integral part, or as a removable collapsible chute component. Regardless, the funnel extension 22, is once again adapted in dimension for being received within a standard 30-gallon yard waste bag 34 with a bag opening 36 to accommodate the funnel extension 32. Needless to say, the lawn bag-stuffing device can be sized to be utilized with any size of bag, as 30 it is certainly not restricted to 30-gallon yard waste bags. In this embodiment, legs 38 may be removable for easy stacking and storage or as in the case of FIG. 1, may be an integral part of the chute inlet funnel 30 or may be removable as shown. If the chute extension 32 is sufficiently rigid, there may not be a need for legs 38. In that case, funnel extension 32 would extend downwardly far enough to rest on the bottom of the lawn bag, and the funnel extension itself would support the yard waste-stuffing device.
FIG. 4A shows a top plan view of a lawn bag-stuffing device in accordance with the present invention, but shows another embodiment, including numerous handles for maneuvering the lawn bag. These handles, or holes, may be utilized in any of the present embodiments, and are not restricted to those shown in FIG. 4A. In this embodiment, the yard waste stuffer funnel is generally denoted by numeral 40 and includes an inner funnel portion 42 which leads down into the chute 44. Handles 46 may be incorporated for ease of handling once the chute is in place, and can be used to move the bag and the stuffing device from location to location. Again, there may or may not be legs, which may be integral or removable as with the other embodiments. Taking a line along section line A-A, FIG. 4B shows a cross sectional side elevational view, illustrating a possible groove configuration, the chute extension receiving groove, generally denoted by numeral 50 and may include groove tongues 52 to receive the chute funnel extension 54 therein. Needless to say, there are many ways known in the art for securing the chute funnel 54 to the upper funnel 44 in the event that it is desired that the chute extension should be removable, and perhaps collapsible, for easy storing and shipping. As also before, optional removable legs 48 may be received under the upper lip of yard waste stuffing funnel 40. The legs which may or may not be necessary, and could be tubular in shape, or molded plastic, metal, wood or any combination thereof.
In order to help the stuffing operation, it may be helpful to include a “waste masher” which may be made of any suitable material, such as a molded plastic as shown in FIG. 5 and generally denoted by the numeral 60. Masher 60 may include a mallet head 62 attached to the bottom of a handle 64 so that once the waste has been placed into the funnel, the person doing the stuffing operation can utilize the waste masher 60 to push the leaves and yard debris down into the bag without cutting or hurting his or her hand. Although the device is shown in a relatively rectangular shape, the inventor envisions many different shapes, including a round or square block with slight radiuses on all the comers to add for strength. In addition, the waste masher could have a round circumference, or any other shape which may prove to be useful. It is envisioned that the most preferable embodiment would be a substantially rectangular or square shape because it would most closely approximate the shape of the lawn bag which is being stuffed.
Therefore, the present invention may be utilized especially for use in the fall when leaves fall from trees, and homeowners have to clean up their yards, or for grass clippings, construction clean up. For many years, people have been doing the frustrating operation of trying to fill the lawn bags without toppling them over, or without needing the help of another person. After experimenting with the other devices that are available on the market it became incumbent upon the inventor, to develop a more useful stuffing device for help while raking up yard waste.
The foregoing description of a preferred embodiment of the invention has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Obvious modifications or variations are possible in light of the above teachings with regards to the specific embodiments. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best illustrate the principles of the invention and its practical applications to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims which are appended hereto.