Title:
Decorative borders
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A decorative border structure (100) is disclosed. The decorative border structure (100) includes a plurality of border picket assemblies (102), each consisting of a picket portion (108) and a stake (118). Snap assemblages (126) are located on opposing sides of the picket portion (108) of each of the border picket assemblies (102). The snap assemblages (126) are adapted to releasably and pivotably interconnect with trim spacers (104) which, in turn, pivotably and releasably interconnect with adjacent ones of the border picket assemblies (102). The relative structures of the trim spacers (104) and the snap assemblages (126) facilitate assembly of the decorative border structure (100) with curvature, and also permit use of the decorative border structure (100) on uneven terrain or with terrain of substantial inclinations and declinations.



Inventors:
Stringer, Charles Edward (Palms, MI, US)
Fachting, Charles Daniel (Ubly, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/442949
Publication Date:
12/21/2006
Filing Date:
05/30/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04F15/00; E04H12/22; E04H17/16; E04H17/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KATCHEVES, BASIL S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VARNUM, RIDDERING, SCHMIDT & HOWLETT LLP (333 BRIDGE STREET, NW P.O. BOX 352, GRAND RAPIDS, MI, 49501-0352, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A decorative border structure comprising: a plurality of border picket assemblies; interconnecting means for releasably interconnecting adjacent ones of said border picket assemblies; and said interconnecting means provides for pivotable movement of at least one of said border picket assemblies relative to at least another of said border picket assemblies.

2. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said interconnecting means comprises at least one trim spacer, where said one trim spacer is pivotably and releasably interconnected to said at least one of said border picket assemblies.

3. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 2, characterized in that said at least one trim spacer comprises: a central web; and a pair of snap sockets extending outwardly from opposing ends of said central web.

4. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 3, characterized in that each of said snap sockets comprises: a pair of opposing fingers attached to said central web, each of said fingers having an arcuate configuration; and a socket opening formed between terminal ends of said pair of opposing fingers.

5. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said interconnecting means comprises at least one snap assemblage connected to said at least one of said border picket assemblies.

6. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 5, characterized in that said at least one snap assemblage comprises: extending means for extending said at least one snap assemblage laterally from said at least one of said border picket assemblies; and means extending outward from said extending means for releasably and pivotably interconnecting said at least one of said border picket assemblies to another of said border picket assemblies.

7. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 5, characterized in that said means extending outward from said extending means comprises a vertically orientated snap post.

8. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 7, characterized in that said at least one snap assemblage further comprises snap retainers located at opposing ends of said snap post.

9. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said interconnecting means comprises means for permitting interconnection of said adjacent ones of said border picket assemblies when said picket assembles are to be used with a relatively uneven terrain, said means providing for modification of alignment of said adjacent ones of said border picket assemblies.

10. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said interconnecting means is of a structure such that said plurality of border picket assemblies can be manually assembled and disassembled without the need of tools.

11. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said decorative border structure is bi-directionally symmetrical.

12. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said interconnecting means comprises means for permitting use of said decorative border structure with terrain of substantial inclinations and declinations.

13. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that all elements of said decorative border structure are composed of materials which facilitate cleaning of said decorative border structure.

14. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that all elements of said decorative border structure are composed of materials which are receptive to painting or staining.

15. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that all elements of said decorative border structure are composed of materials which are UV stable.

16. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that all elements of said decorative border structure are composed of materials which are recyclable.

17. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that said plurality of border picket assemblies are composed of polypropylene.

18. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that each of said border picket assemblies comprises: a picket portion having a lower body of a substantially rectangular cross-sectional configuration, and a tapered upper portion; and a stake integrally connected to a lower part of said picket portion.

19. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 18, characterized in that said stake comprises: a central web; pairs of reinforcing ribs integral with said central web; and said stake having a downward taper terminating at a lower point.

20. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 1, characterized in that: said interconnecting means comprises at least one trim spacer, where said one trim spacer is pivotably and releasably interconnected to said at least one of said border picket assemblies; at least one snap assemblage connected to said at least one of said border picket assemblies; and said at least one trim spacer is adapted to be pivotably and releasably interconnected to a pair of said snap assemblages, where said snap assemblages are connected to adjacent ones of said border picket assemblies.

21. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 20, characterized in that said trim spacer comprises: a central web; and a pair of snap sockets extending outwardly from opposing ends of said central web, each of said snap sockets comprising a pair of opposing fingers attached to said central web and a socket opening formed between terminal ends of said pair of opposing fingers.

22. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 21, characterized in that said at least one snap assemblage comprises: a standard connected to and associated with one of said border picket assemblies for extending said at least one snap assemblage laterally from said at least one of said border picket assemblies; a vertically oriented snap post extending outwardly from said standard; and snap retainers located at opposing ends of said snap post.

23. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 22, characterized in that pivotable and releasable interconnection of adjacent ones of said border picket assemblies is provided by the snap fitting of said pairs of snap fingers to snap posts associated with adjacent ones of said border picket assemblies.

24. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 23, characterized in that said snap posts are of longer elongated length relative to elongated lengths of said snap sockets, so as to allow room for modifying vertical alignment of adjacently interconnected border picket assemblies, thereby permitting alignment of adjacent border picket assemblies on uneven terrain.

25. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 23, characterized in that said central web of each of said trim spacers is of an angled configuration, so that interconnected snap sockets on opposing ends of said angled central web are located in different horizontal planes, thereby permitting interconnection of adjacent border picket assembles in a manner so as to permit use with terrain of relatively substantial inclinations or declinations.

26. A decorative border structure in accordance with claim 22, characterized in that each of said snap retainers is of a diameter which is relatively larger than diameters of cross-sectional configurations of corresponding snap posts and snap sockets pivotably and releasably coupled to said snap posts, so as to prevent inadvertent vertical disconnection between trim spacers and interconnected snap assemblages.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to decorative borders and, more particularly, relates to decorative border structures which facilitate assembly/disassembly and provide for borders of selectable length and use with terrain of varying inclinations and declinations.

2. Description of Related Art

Over the years, the use of various types of structures for separating geographical areas have been developed. These border structures have been used for various purposes, from preventing animals from escaping pasture land to providing means of preventing soil erosion and the like. In general, borders separating various geographical areas can provide a number of functions.

However, in addition to being functional, it is often desirable to have such partitioning and functional borders include another aspect. Specifically, it is desirable for many types of partitioning borders to be decorative with pleasing aesthetics. This is particularly true in various residential and commercial border construction, where the borders may be viewed on a relatively consistent basis by a substantial number of individuals.

Decorative borders may be constructed of various materials, often dependent upon functions to be performed. For example, it may be desirable to construct a decorative border around walkways, gardens, flowerbeds or the like. Such borders may be in the form of wire fencing, wooden fencing or fencing constructed of other materials. Correspondingly, borders do not necessarily have to consist of a “fence” type configuration. For example, borders can be constructed of various configurations of concrete blocks or similar materials, which are often not necessarily referred to as “fences”. One type of decorative border known in the prior art consists of a series of concrete casting blocks deposited in a channel which is dug at the edge of a garden or flower bed. A disadvantage of such a prior art border is that each block is independent of adjacent blocks, and the blocks are not necessarily held together. In addition, it is often substantially difficult to place concrete blocks so as to follow the contour of a garden or flower bed, or to achieve a smooth and even line or curve. As an example, it is extremely difficult to create an even circular rim using such prior art concrete blocks.

Other types of decorative borders, although using interconnecting elements, may be substantially difficult to install. For example, some types of edging or decorative border fencing require relatively substantial strength to appropriately position into the ground. Also, some types of borders require specialized tools for installation.

In general, many types of decorative borders are relatively difficult to assemble. In addition, a number of known prior art border structures comprise borders having a relatively substantial length, but without the capability of anything other than linear positioning in the ground. That is, many border structures do not allow any type of curvature, and separate lengths of the border structures must be utilized to provide for bordering in differing directions. In a similar manner, a number of known prior art border structures are useful only in terrain which is substantially flat, and remaining in a single horizontal plane.

Still other known decorative borders are constructed of materials (or use surface coatings) which do not facilitate cleaning. Further, other known border structures are relatively flimsy. With these types of structures, damage can readily occur through stones being thrown at and impacting on the border structures, or other projectiles impinging upon the border surfaces. Also, if the relatively flimsy border structure is constructed of various assembled parts, the parts can readily come apart in moderate wind conditions.

Although other known border structures may not be particularly flimsy, they may be of a construction which can readily be damaged during installation and assembly. For example, several known border structures include stakes for insertion into the ground. These stakes are often elongated, flat-surfaced and not particularly durable. A structure of such stakes often will result in bending or other damage upon assembly and installation of the entirety of the border structures.

Another disadvantage of many known decorative border structures is the inability to produce such structures in various colors. Many of the known border structures are constructed of a material which do not facilitate painting, staining or similar activity. Other known border structures are constructed of materials which are not particularly UV stable (or cannot be stabilized), and will readily fade or otherwise be subject to damage from the sun and other elements. Still further, although some known decorative border structures are not particularly difficult to assemble, the same structures can often be substantially difficult to disassemble. For decorative border structures for lawns, gardens and flowerbeds, it is often advantageous to store such structures during winter months. If the structures are not readily capable of disassembly, such storage can be difficult. Similarly, many decorative border structures which are difficult to disassemble not only cause storage problems, but also cause problems regarding rearrangement. For example, it is fairly common to alter residential and commercial landscapes over time. It would be preferable for decorative border structures to be readily capable of rearrangement, so as to permit re-use of such structures.

Another issue relevant to decorative border structures in the modem era relates to environmental concerns. The materials from which many known decorative borders are constructed are often not (either whole or in part) recyclable. This is an issue which will continue to become more important in the future.

Another important issue for decorative borders relates to the aesthetics of the border structures from various views. For example, many known border structures have a substantially aesthetically pleasing appearance from a “front” view of the structure, but a view from the back may not be aesthetically pleasing. It would be preferable for decorative border structures to have pleasing aesthetics from substantially any view.

Also relating to aesthetics, it would be preferable for decorative border structures to include surfaces of pleasing appearance. Often, relatively “flat” structure surfaces do not provide the aesthetics which may be desirable for a particular setting for the decorative border structures. Finally, as mentioned earlier, some decorative border structures do not readily accept paint or other coloring of their surfaces. As a corollary to this issue, some known decorative border structures require painting, and may require painting fairly frequently. Requisite painting of border surfaces can result in the conventional problems associated with such painting, including fading, chipping, and other damage resulting from environmental conditions.

The following paragraphs briefly describe examples of prior art border structures.

Schropp, U.S. Pat. No. 5,236,179, issued Aug. 17, 1993, describes a garden trim fence for installation in a channel dug into the ground. The trim fence includes a wire, anchor block and a series of adjacent and vertically arranged regular blocks, with each of the blocks having a horizontally extending hole between opposing sides. The wire is passed through the hole so as to support the blocks, and the hole is positioned so as to lie below ground level when installed.

Reiter, U.S. Pat. No. 4,167,079, issued Sep. 11, 1979, describes a trim fence with a series of blocks, with each block having a pair of parallel surfaces and side walls forming a V-shaped end. Each side wall is formed by intersecting planar surfaces forming a V, including an obtuse angle. The planar surfaces of the side walls converge on a linear edge at the apex of the V, with the edge having a V-shaped outline which is in a plane at an angle other than a right angle to the parallel planar surfaces of the member. This configuration is described as being advantageous for fences measuring only a relatively few inches in height.

Anticole, U.S. Pat. No. 5,961,101, issued Oct. 5, 1999, describes a modular interconnecting fencing arrangement, with a series of sheet panels each having a first edge with a first offset, and a first double fold along the first edge. In this manner, a first gap is defined which is aligned with and faces the panels. A second edge is also defined having a second offset and a second double fold along the second edge. In this manner, a second gap is defined which is offset from the panel, so that the edges of two adjacent panels may be slipped together to form a lock seam joint.

Morris, U.S. Design Pat. No. 258,313, issued Feb. 17, 1981, illustrates a lawn and garden border, with a design having a center section with a substantially rectangular facial structure, but with a series of semi-circular shaped sections at the top thereof. At each end of the planar structure is an end structure having a relatively narrow width and a height greater than the intermediate planar structure. Each of the end structures also has a semi-circular construction at the top thereof.

VerHoeve, U.S. Pat. No. 5,375,369, issued Dec. 27, 1994, describes landscape edgings having double-tongued stakes designed to connect and ground-anchor post or block-like elements in the creation of one-element-high, one-element-thick, stakeable landscape edgings. Each landscape element is channeled with a tongue-locking keyway on each of two parallel and opposed side edges. Elements can be chained together into continuous and aligned arrangement by the intermediate insertion of the stakes, so as to form relatively long flexible landscape edging segments. The segments may then be staked to the ground. In this manner, each edging element is thus double-staked to the ground, with the number of stakes and staked elements being substantially equal.

Emmie, U.S. Pat. No. 4,130,272, issued Dec. 19, 1978, describes a picket fence having a series of parallel and laterally-spaced metal pickets. The pickets are interconnected by a series of parallel pairs of stringers. Stringers are constructed of metal, with opposing ends shaped in a tubular configuration. The stringers are received in mating recesses on adjacent and parallel pickets. The mating arrangement is such that the pickets are rotatable about the tubular configurations of the stringers. In this manner, the pickets and their associated stringers are moveable with respect to each other so that a curved path may be formed.

Allen, U.S. Pat. No. 3,648,981, issued Mar. 14, 1972, discloses a fence having wooden panels, with upper and lower edges positioned in slotted rails supported between pairs of steel posts. The rails are described as sections of channel or open seam type. The panels are held in place in the fence without nails, screws, bolts or other fasteners. The panels can be spaced apart like pickets, or have side edges in contact for denying visual and physical access to the fenced-in area.

Mann, U.S. Pat. No. 3,892,387, issued Jul. 1, 1975, describes a fence structure of board-type construction. The fence structure is one where the visual appearance is substantially identical on both sides. Also, there is no need for nails in the fence construction. The fence includes a series of fence sections having end posts, with a series of slats or picket members interposed between the posts. The slats are secured together through elongated rod members extending between the posts and transversely through intermediate slats. Each fence section is secured to adjacent fence sections in a side-by-side or end-to-end relationship. In this matter, the fence structure is constructed of a desired length, again without the need of nails.

Bergagnini, U.S. Pat. No. 4,684,108, issued Aug. 4, 1987, discloses a fence construction which utilizes flat bar stock for rails and pickets, with relatively standard metal shapes for posts between the fence sections. Each fence panel incudes horizontally extending and vertically spaced rails. Each rail includes a pair of flat metal bars arranged in a horizontally spaced, side-by-side relationship. The opposing ends of each bar are connected to a bolt, such as by welding. Adjacent ends of the bars are curved slightly around the sides of the bolt for appearance. A series of horizontally spaced and vertically extending pickets are also provided. Each picket includes a flat metal par bent into the form of an inverted U-shaped configuration The bend is located at the upper end of the picket, and rounded into substantially a semi-circular configuration. Each picket is positioned between the bars of the rails and secured to the bars by tack welding. The bars forming the pickets are also of a steel configuration.

Intermediate posts are also provided, in a standard T-shaped configuration, with the upper ends rounded into a substantially semi-circular configuration, and the lower ends either pointed or square. The lower end of each post is secured in the supporting ground surface, either by being driven into the ground or held in a concrete footing. The post includes a first vertical web, extending parallel with the adjacent rails, and a second vertical web extending normal from the central portion of the first web. A horizontal web is also provided, as by welding, to the vertical webs and at each level for a rail. Corner posts are also provided, with L-shaped cross sections. The upper end portion of each post is rounded for appearance. The lower end portion may be pointed to squared, for being driven into the ground or secured by concrete footings. A horizontal web is secured to the vertical webs, at the level of each rail. A pair of apertures are formed in each horizontal web so as to receive bolts of adjacent rails. Nuts are provided on the lower ends of the bolts at each corner post to firmly secure the ends of the rails to the corner posts.

Zen, U.S. Pat. No. 4,968,005, issued Nov. 5, 1990, describes rails adapted for attachment to a series of pickets. The rails includes first and second longitudinal members pressed together to form the rail. Spaced openings are formed in one longitudinal member, with an open edge for each opening at an edge of the longitudinal member. Channels are formed on each side of the picket member, but adjacent to an end of the member. Projections are provided on both members, adjacent to each opening. Each projection is received on a channel of a picket. The arrangement is described as a relatively rattle-free structure.

Begue, Jr., et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,492,307, issued Feb. 20, 1996, describes a fence apparatus with a series of hollow fence modules constructed of plastic. The modules include ornamental exterior surfaces, with slots at their edge portions. The slots are adapted to receive connector elements. A series of joint assemblies are adapted to be interconnected between two hollow fence modules placed edge to edge. The joint assemblies include connector elements adapted to be received in the slots of the two hollow fence modules for jointing the fence modules together. The connector elements also fit into slots in the joint assemblies. The fence post assemblies are connected to the hollow fence modules, so as to secure the fence modules to a portion of the ground. The connector elements include first channels. The edge portions of the hollow fence modules include second channels which are capable of being placed in registration with the first channels. Fasteners are placed through the registered first channels and the second channels and employed to secure the hollowed fence modules to the joint assemblies. The joint assemblies include right-angled corner joint assemblies and straight-angled joint assemblies. The exterior surface can simulate vertically oriented wooden boards, brick walls or picket fences. The fence post assemblies can include metal posts placed external to the hollow fence modules, either as independent fence posts or contained within joint assemblies. As an alternative, the fence post assemblies can be contained internally within a hollow interior of the fence modules.

Daily, U.S. Pat. No. 3,822,053, issued Jul. 2, 1974, describes a picket fence constructed of relatively thin-walled and rectangular cross-sectioned tubular steel posts, rails and pickets. Holes in the posts receive the ends of the rails, and holes in the rails receive ends of the pickets. The ends of the rails are provided with spring tangs pressed outwardly a slight distance, and arranged so that when the ends of the rails are inserted into the rail-receiving holes of the posts, the tangs are first deflected inwardly slightly and then spring back to lock the ends of the rails in the posts, with the facing ends of pairs of tangs closely flanking the wall of the post. The pickets are either provided with similar spring-tangs for locking the ends of the pickets to the rails when such picket-ends are inserted into the holes of the rails or, alternatively, pickets are locked to the rails by expanding pairs of ribs through the walls of the pickets.

Goldman, U.S. Pat. No. 5,317,833, issued Jun. 7, 1994, discloses lawn and flowerbed edging constructed of imitation bricks of molded plastic. The bricks are linked by hinged connectors so as to form edging strips. Compressible rectangular washers are provided between the bricks so as to simulate mortar joints. Anchoring prongs having barbed tips are used to implant the bricks into the soil.

Terreta, U.S. Pat. No. 5,092,076, issued Mar. 3, 1992, discloses an edging landscaping system having various configurations. In one configuration, a planter edging system is provided having a planter wall edging member which can be installed along wall structures or the like so as to create a planter area as well as providing an edging lip for ease of grass trimming or shearing. In a second configuration, a flexible wall structure is provided which is combined with an edging cap so as to create an edging system adapted to varying terrain. The edging cap includes channels so as to facilitate the installation of plumbing or drainage channels in outside environments.

Beck, U.S. Pat. No. 4,543,745, issued Oct. 1, 1985, discloses multiple decorative edging witch includes an uneven, vertical row of timbers attached to a length of metal sheet. The metal sheet supports the timbers, and acts as a barrier or edging to the earth contained within. The timbers provide the decorative part of the edging. The edging can be constructed so that it can be connected end-to-end to itself, or to other edging units to form continuous shapes. Attachment of the metal sheet to the timbers is by means of staples.

Quinn, U.S. Pat. No. 5,535,568, issued Jul. 16, 1996, discloses a self-indexing landscape module. The module includes a series of projections at predetermined intervals positioned around the periphery of the back and side walls to landscape modules when stacked. The landscape modules are constructed so as to be filled with fill materials such as dirt or gravel or the like. Each module has an imitation concrete front. One embodiment of the module has side walls having first and second parts, with the projections only being on the underside of the second part of the side wall and the back wall. Essentially, Quinn provides for a hollow landscape block which can be used in a retaining wall or terrace. The block can be used as a planter and can provide a configuration for indexing or aligning individual modules to accommodate a gradual or steep slope when terracing. The modules are designed to be used in place of masonry blocks.

Rodriguez, U.S. Pat. No. 5,027,551, issued Jul. 2, 1991, discloses decorative lawn edging having individual units or segments which are contiguously disclosed and held together by a connecting corrugated band. The band is inserted on one of the ends of the units along its diameter. The band is flexible in a manner so as to permit the units to follow a curved path without appreciable separation between the units. More specifically, the individual units are described as log segments which can be constructed of wood and have a generally cylindrical shape. Each segment is of a substantially common height and diameter. The corrugated band can be constructed of galvanized steel, and inserted along the proximate diameter centers of the ends of the units. The band is rigid enough along its width dimension so as to penetrate through the ends of the units. Staples may be utilized to limit vertical movement of the bands, and anchorage pins are utilized on end units so as to provide anchorage points.

Reppert, U.S. Pat. No. 5,445,362, issued Aug. 29, 1995, discloses a fence assembly having a series of modules, each having a width of two feet. The modules are assembled in four-module sections, and joined to adjacent modules by insertion of a clip into vertical T-shaped slots formed in adjacent modules. Sections are anchored in the ground by pipes having downwardly projecting stakes. These pipe and stake assemblies are located concealed within the first and fourth module of each section. Upper and lower horizontal reinforcement members are attached along sections. Resilient expanding anchors are used to connect the pipes, extensions and horizontal members. For this purpose, aligned boards are formed within these elements which receive the anchors. In one embodiment disclosed for use on flat terrain, the lower reinforcing member is extended through and concealed in longitudinal boards extending through each module. In this configuration, only one horizontal member is external to and visible from the finished fence. In another embodiment for use with installations on inclined terrain, two horizontal, external reinforcing members are provided. The angle mandated by inclination is accommodated by pivot of the reinforcing members about the anchors.

Kinnaman, U.S. Pat. No. 3,902,702, issued Sep. 2, 1975, describes an interlocking fence having abutting fence sections. A hidden fence post is provided at the abutments of the individual fence sections. A locking piece fits the top of the fence post so as to complete the appearance of continuity of the fence.

Bouye, U.S. Pat. No. 3,902,703, issued Sep. 2, 1975, describes a fence with spaced apart parallel uprights. Each upright includes at least one tenon extending from one side and adapted to engage and be retained by snap-action locking means in a corresponding cavity formed in the adjacent upright element. The end element of the panel or array formed by a series of the elements is free from any tenon. The panel is held in a vertical position by means of wires and ground-anchored pickets as in conventional fences.

Freer, U.S. Pat. No. 4,260,138, issued Apr. 7, 1981, describes a picket fence, with individual pickets having a rigid upright member and four substantially horizontal members. The horizontal members are spaced apart and attached to the upright member. The upright member has an “I” cross-sectional configuration, for purposes of enhancing rigidity. The upright member is described as being made of a synthetic polymer which will give the upright member sufficient rigidity. The horizontal member may be made of a synthetic polymer having a mildly flexible characteristic. A set of pegs is attached on the portion of the horizontal member adjacent to the upright member. A series of apertures extends through each of the horizontal members. Each of the pegs includes a shaft and a button top. When the pegs and the horizontal members are both made of a rigid material, the button top width is equal to that of the aperture. The button tops of the pegs prevent withdrawal of the pegs from the apertures. A mildly flexible material is used for the peg. The apertures are arranged in corresponding vertical planes, as are the pegs. Similar embodiments are also disclosed in Freer.

Gnaedig, U.S. Pat. No. 5,426,888, issued Jun. 27, 1995, discloses a landscape edging system having a series of flexible and resilient component pieces. Each component piece includes a base for placement in the ground, and a pair of opposed sides. Each side includes a protruding lip. A lip from one component piece overlaps with a lip from an adjoining piece to form an elongated continuous edging system. More specifically, each component piece includes a base buried beneath the surface of the ground. Each of the component pieces is sufficiently flexible from side to side so that they may be flexed and bent to accommodate various shapes and designs. In the embodiment described in Gnaedig, each component piece is given the appearance of a wooden stake. Each of the component pieces includes a pair of opposed sides, with a protruding lip extending away from each side. Each component piece includes a bottom flange extending from the base in an angular relation to the component piece and in an angular relationship with the ground level. The bottom flange can extend vertically from the base. Each component piece includes a series of five stake members, connected together by flexible joints. The flexible joints are similar in shape and configuration to the extending lips. On inclined surfaces, component pieces can be offset by positioning the lips in an offset manner.

Lowery, U.S. Pat. No. 4,477,057, issued Oct. 16, 1994, discloses a fence constructed of plastic components, with a tubular support anchored in the ground. A post slides over the support and extends upwardly. Plastic rails interconnect the posts, with each rail having protruding pegs extending out from one side. Plastic fence boards have holes formed in one side for snapping into the pegs to secure the fence boards. Some of the holes are vertical slots, so as to allow the fence boards to be positioned at various vertical heights. A plastic strip is placed in contact with the ground between the posts, with each strip having an upwardly facing channel for receiving the lower edges of the fence boards.

Dailey, et al, U.S. Pat. No. 4,200,260, issued Apr. 29, 1980, discloses a picket fence structure having a series of co-planar vertical pickets. Each picket has at least one keyslot cut into each edge, so that the mating edges of two adjacent pickets have their keyslots in the same position. A key is placed in each slot, which serves to keep the pickets in a planar assembly. Two keyslots are provided, one near each end, on each edge of the pickets. The planar assembly of the pickets are keyed to fence posts contiguous with the outermost pickets. The keying of the outermost pickets to adjacent fence posts is provided by longitudinal grooves in the faces of the fence posts. Keys may be constructed as rods or dowels. Preferably, they are disks of a diameter which will fit into semi-circular keyslots in matching edges of the pickets. If the slots are elongated, with keys in adjacent keyways, the adjacent pickets can have relatively longitudinal movement to conform to a sloping ground surface.

Topolsek, U.S. Pat. No. 3,877,140, issued Apr. 15, 1975, discloses a method of manufacturing a fence of thermoplastic pickets having wire-conducting links. Series of pickets or slats have connecting links between adjacent pickets. The pickets are formed of an extruded thermoplastic material, with each of the pickets having a crease. The fence can be formed by extruding a plastic sheet, punching or cutting a series of openings which define the pickets and connecting links, and creasing the thermoplastic material lengthwise of each of the pickets. As an alternative, the material may be extruded with a series of wires embedded in the direction of the extrusion. The thermoplastic sheet may then be cut across its width, except for the wires. The cut portion may be pulled along the wires, so that the wires form connecting lengths between adjacent ones of the cuts. The pickets are formed by creasing them along their axial length, together with the wires embedded therein.

Lepetri, U.S. Pat. No. 4,062,522, issued Dec. 13, 1977, discloses a picket fence with vertically positioned picket members having longitudinal grooves or slots along their lengthwise ledges. Metal slats or strips are inserted into oppositely facing and neighboring grooves. The slat inserts cover the gaps separating the vertically standing picket members, so that the fence serves to preserve privacy. The pickets are held in a vertically standing position by means of crossbars, with the metal insert slats having a substantially slight curvature in the cross-sectional plane.

West, U.S. Pat. No. 5,660,376, issued Aug. 26, 1997, discloses a cap and mounting arrangement for a fencing system. The fencing system includes a series of straight plastic tubes cut into posts, cross members and pickets. Cap arrangements fit over an open top end of each post and picket. A connectorless coupling is provided for each cap so as to lock the cap into each post and picket, by urging a lower cap end into the post or picket. Ends of a lock bar are urged into the post or picket inner side walls, securing the cap on the lock bar.

Svalbe, U.S. Pat. No. 5,613,664, issued Mar. 25, 1997, discloses a fence constructed of plastic, concrete and steel reinforcement. Each section of the fence includes two posts, with each post having a hollowed portion filled with concrete and steel reinforcement. Each section includes rails fastened between the two posts, with each of the rails having a hollowed portion also filled with concrete and steel reinforcement. Each of the rails is fastened between the posts using a pin for each post. A number of pickets are fastened between the rails, with each of the pickets having a hollowed portion also filled with concrete and steel reinforcement. The steel reinforcement in each picket extends along the length of the picket and into each of the rails.

Schwartz, et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,601,279, issued Feb. 11, 1997, discloses a picket fence with slats having U-shaped attachment rails. The fence includes a pair of posts installed into a ground mass, laterally spaced from each other, and each having at least one transverse support member. A series of pickets is provided, with at least one transverse rail attached to the pickets. The transverse rail includes a channel adapted to receive the transverse support member. The series of pickets and the transverse rail are formed as a unitary piece, and adapted to mate with similar unitary pieces to provide the modular construction.

Blouin, U.S. Pat. No. 5,803,438, issued Sep. 8, 1998, discloses plastic fencing with at least one corner post having at least one pair of recesses formed in the post. At least one intermediate post is provided, having at least one pair of intermediate post recesses formed therein. An end post is also provided, with at least one end post recess formed in the end post. A series of rails are provided for horizontally spanning distances between the corner posts, intermediate posts and end posts. The rails are removably attachable to the corner post recesses, intermediate post recesses and end post recesses. A picket fence system is provided by having picket slats removably attachable to picket rails.

Edgman, U.S. Pat. No. 5,702,090, issued Dec. 30, 1997, discloses a plastic fence assembly having a series of post members formed of hollow, extruded plastic and having opposing side walls and end walls intersected by one or more elongated channels. Elongated spacer elements are inserted in the channels and retained in the channels by interlocking projections on the spacer elements and recesses formed in the side walls of the post channels. The spacer elements support side edges of vertically extending picket members, and also brackets for horizontally extending rail members. The spacer elements position at least one or both of elongated top and bottom rail members of the fence assembly. The top and bottom rail members have elongated slots for receiving opposing ends of generally planar board-like picket members. The top and bottom rail members and the spacer members can be cut to length as can be the post and picket members to provide fencing of a desirable height and distance between posts.

Schall, U.S. Pat. No. 5,660,378, issued Aug. 26, 1997, describes a method of making a fence having a series of spaced apart pickets. Each picket has an aperture facing in the same direction, and an insert with an edge having a single or series of spaced apart fingers disposed along the edge. The spacing between the fingers is the same as the spacing between center portions of the pickets and a substantially U-shaped rail having an intermediate portion and a pair of spaced apart portions extending from the intermediate portion. The insert is placed between the rail and the pickets, so that the fingers are aligned with the apertures and above the apertures and the pickets. The rail and fingers are then moved toward the apertures until the fingers enter and are locked in the apertures. In one embodiment disclosed in Schall, the step of moving the rail and the fingers includes continuing to move the rail and the fingers in the same direction after entering the fingers into the aperture so as to provide the locking. This is accomplished by providing a locking device having a W-shaped portion with a top semi-circular portion and a bottom semi-circular position. The step of locking includes rotating the insert from the top semi-circular portion to the bottom semi-circular portion so as to provide locking in conjunction with the apertures. In the second embodiment, the locking device includes a flange extending toward the pickets and the step of locking the insert between the flange and the intermediate portion of the U-shaped rail.

Graber, U.S. Pat. No. 5,601,278, issued Feb. 11, 1997, discloses a picket fence having a pair of vertical posts, with top and bottom rail members supported by each of the posts. Pickets are attached to the rail members. The posts, rails and pickets are all made of polyvinyl material. The pickets are attached to the rails by cleats engaging keyhole-shaped slots in the pickets. In one embodiment, the keyhole-shaped slots extend in opposing directions, so that the rails may be moved relative to the pickets in order to secure the pickets to the rails. In this manner, the pickets cannot be removed through the rails, without first removing the rails from the posts. In another embodiment, keyhole slots extend in the same direction, and a locking arm extends from the cleats into the narrow portion of the keyhole slot. In this manner, in order to remove the picket from the rail, both the top and bottom portions of the picket must first be deflected slightly, and the picket then forced downwardly. In each instance, it is unlikely that the pickets can be removed accidentally.

Reinbold, U.S. Pat. No. 5,882,001, issued Mar. 16, 1999, discloses a picket fence formed by a series of posts having vertically spaced ribs on confronting surfaces for supporting respective ends of inverted U-shaped rails. The rails are provided with a series of longitudinally and equally spaced vertically aligned apertures. Each aperture includes a tab portion of the U-shaped rail bight portion projecting into the aperture. A similar series of pickets are cooperatively received by the respective aligned apertures, with each picket having a pair of transverse longitudinally spaced slots in its wall. The slots cooperatively nest a respective tab projecting into each slot. An inverted L-shaped spring steel clip enters into the respective aperture on the side of the post opposite its slot, so as to engage upper and lower surfaces of the bight portion of the respective rail adjacent to the aperture. In this manner, each respective picket is locked against movement relative to the rails.

Cacicedo, U.S. Pat. No. 5,372,354, issued Dec. 13, 1994, discloses a picket fence having posts, rails and pickets mounted to the rails. The upper rail is removably mounted to the post, and the lower rail is mounted removably and rotatably to the post. In this manner, the picket fence is constructed so as to permit adjacent sections to be angularly oriented relative to each other.

Derange, U.S. Pat. No. 4,735,397, issues Apr. 5, 1998, discloses a fencing system constructed of plastic materials. The system includes a series of posts, and a series of runners for interconnecting the posts and pickets extending vertically relative to the horizontal runners. The pickets, runners and posts are formed from molded plastic material. Each post includes a series of slots and outerfaces. Each slot has a transverse pin arranged in a central configuration for receiving a hook member at a respective end of a runner. The posts also include M-shaped notches at corners thereof to receive a wire extending past the post and supported by the post. A lower end of the post includes a transverse surface which converges to an apex, so as to prevent frost heave.

Lustvee, U.S. Pat. No. 4,625,948, issued Dec. 2, 1986, discloses a picket fence construction with a first, transverse rail and a series of pickets mountable to the rail. The pickets are hung by means of a tongue and engaging link arrangement. The rail includes a tongue for each picket, and each picket includes an engaging link. Alternatively, the tongue and links can be reversed. The pickets are held by a retaining configuration having a second rail engaging the pickets by a tongue and link arrangement operating in the opposing direction. The Lustvee patent also shows the retaining configuration as a capping rail.

O'Mullan, et al, U.S. Pat. No. 3,762,113, issued Oct. 2, 1973, discloses a plastic landscape edging and border structure, which includes modules having blocks and mortar joints. The modules are coupled to each other end-to-end, and carry stakes which anchor the structure in the ground. The modules include a base member, which is laid in a bed of wet road material, such as asphalt or cement. When the material dries, the base is secured thereto.

Hasenwinkle, et al, U.S. Pat. No. 4,834,585, issued May 30, 1989, discloses a landscape timber building module formed from a solid piece of wood with a predetermined length and width. At least two flat and opposed substantially parallel surfaces include a series of uniformly spaced holes extending therethrough. Each end of the module is curved with a radius extending from approximately the centerline of the second hole inwardly from the end. Each individual module is treated with a preservative compound. Individual modules are interconnected by use of pin connectors inserted through aligned holes in the modules.

Gaston, U.S. Pat. No. 6,012,254, issued Jan. 11, 2000, describes a trenchless landscape edging system. This system includes a series of anchoring members, and an edging member having substantially no barrier extending downwardly therefrom, and corresponding interconnecting or adjoining blocks having recesses disposed therein. The blocks, in combination with the anchoring members, can by employed to separate adjacent lawn, garden or similar areas. The configuration is disclosed as reducing the effects of undesired displacement forces, such as frost heave.

Various types of configurations are also shown in a number of design patents. For example, the inventors are aware of the following U.S. design patents: Nauseda, et al, No. 310,421, issued Sep. 4, 1990; Kobee, No. 257,064, issued Sep. 23, 1980; Novak, et al, No. 276,494, issued Nov. 27, 1984; Anderson, et al, No. 425,322, issued Jun. 6, 2000; Northrop, No. 361,853, issued Aug. 29, 1995; Shaw, No. 416,399, issued Nov. 9, 1999; Koch, No. 391,379, issued Feb. 24, 1998; Nauseda, No. 363,801, issued Oct. 31, 1995; Tisbo, et al, No. 416,096, issued Nov. 2, 1999; van Rhienen, No. 430,683, issued Sep. 5, 2000; Howry, No. 370,268, issued May 28, 1996; Hill, Sr., 403,435, issued Dec. 29, 1998; and Olivera, et al, No. 423,684, issued Apr. 25, 2000.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the invention, a decorative border structure includes a plurality of border picket assemblies, with interconnecting means for releasably interconnecting adjacent ones of the border picket assemblies. The interconnecting means provides for a pivotable movement of at least one of the border picket assemblies relative to another of the border picket assemblies. The interconnecting means includes at least one trim spacer and at least one snap assemblage. The snap assemblage is connected to at least one of the border picket assemblies, and the trim spacer is pivotably and releasably interconnected to the snap assemblage.

The trim spacer includes a central web and a pair of snap sockets extending outwardly from opposing ends of the central web. Each of the snap sockets includes a pair of opposing fingers attached to the central web, with each of the fingers having an arcuate configuration. A socket opening is formed between terminal ends of the pair of opposing fingers.

Each snap assemblage includes extending means for extending the snap assemblage laterally from the associated .border picket assembly. Means extend outward from the extending means for releasably and pivotably interconnecting the associated border picket assembly to another of the border picket assemblies. The means extending outward from the extending means includes a vertically oriented snap post. The snap assemblage also includes snap retainers located at opposing ends of the snap post.

The interconnecting means includes means for permitting interconnection of adjacent ones of the border picket assemblies when the picket assemblies are to be used with a relatively uneven terrain. The means provides for modification of alignment of adjacent ones of the border picket assemblies. The interconnecting means is of a structure such that the border picket assemblies can be manually assembled and disassembled without the need of tools. In addition, the decorative border structure is bi-directionally symmetrical.

The interconnecting means also includes means for permitting use of the decorative border structure with terrain of substantial inclinations and declinations. In addition, elements of the decorative border structure may be composed of materials which facilitate cleaning of the structure. The materials may also be receptive to painting or staining, and UV stable. Still further, elements of the decorative border structure may be composed of materials which are recyclable. More specifically, and in accordance with the invention, the border picket assemblies may be composed of polypropylene.

Each of the border picket assemblies includes a picket portion have a lower body with a substantially rectangular cross-sectional configuration, and a tapered upper portion. Each border picket assembly also includes a stake which is integrally connected to a lower part of the picket portion. The stake includes a central web, and pairs of reinforcing ribs integral with this central web. The stake may have a downward taper terminating at a lower point.

Pivotable and releasable interconnection of adjacent ones of the border picket assemblies is provided by the snap fitting of the pairs of snap fingers to snap posts associated with the border picket assemblies. In accordance with one aspect of the invention, the snap posts may be of a longer elongated length relative to elongated lengths of the snap sockets, so as to allow room for modifying vertical alignment of adjacently interconnected border picket assemblies, thereby permitting alignment of the assemblies on uneven terrain. In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the central web of each of the trim spacers may be of an angled configuration, so that interconnected snap sockets on opposing ends of the angled central web are located in different horizontal planes, thereby permitting interconnection of adjacent border picket assemblies in a manner so as to permit use with terrain of relatively substantial inclinations or declinations. Further, each of the snap retainers may be of a diameter which is relatively larger than diameters of cross-sectional configurations of corresponding snap posts and snap sockets pivotably and releasably coupled to the snap posts. In this manner, inadvertent vertical disconnection between trim spacers and interconnected snap assemblages is prevented.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The invention will now be described with respect to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is somewhat of a perspective view showing a decorative border structure in accordance with the invention located within a lawn as part of a structure for providing protective bordering for a tree;

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a border picket assembly for use with a decorative border structure in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is an elevation view showing an upper portion of the border picket assembly, and further showing the relative positions of pivoting locks on opposing sides of the border picket assembly, with interconnecting trim spacers;

FIG. 4 is an elevation view showing an upper portion of a pair of border picket assemblies intended to be interconnected adjacent to each other, through pivoting locks with an interconnecting trim spacer;

FIG. 5 is an elevation and enlarged view of the upper portion of a pair of border picket assemblies, intended to be interconnected adjacent to each other, with one of the snap sockets of a trim spacer shown as being releasably interconnected to a snap post of the pivoting lock associated with one of the border picket assemblies;

FIG. 6 is a view primarily from above a border picket assembly, and primarily showing one of the snap assemblages of a pivoting lock, and further showing a trim spacer releasably interconnected to a snap assemblage associated with the border picket assembly;

FIG. 7 is similar to FIG. 6, but illustrates the trim spacer as being adjacent to (but unconnected to) a snap assemblage associated with a border picket assembly;

FIG. 8 is a partially perspective view of a trim spacer which may be utilized in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 9 is an elevation view of a border picket assembly, with a trim spacer releasably interconnected to one of the snap posts of one of the snap assemblages associated with the border picket assembly;

FIG. 10 is an elevation view of a partial section of the border picket assembly of FIG. 9, illustrating the stake portion of the border picket assembly;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the stake portion of the border picket assembly as shown in FIG. 10, but through lines 11-11 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the stake portion of the border picket assembly shown in FIG. 9, through section lines 12-12 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 13 is a plan view of the border picket assembly and releasably interconnected trim spacer as illustrated in FIG. 9;

FIG. 14 is a plan view of the trim spacer illustrated in FIG. 13, but shown separate and independent from any other elements of a decorative border assembly in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 15 is an elevation view of the trim spacer illustrated in FIG. 14;

FIG. 16 is a sectional view of a trim spacer in accordance with the invention, taken along section lines 16-16 of FIG. 9;

FIG. 17 is a sectional view showing detail associated with the releasable interconnection of the trim spacer in FIG. 13 to the snap post also shown in FIG. 13, taken along section lines 17-17 of FIG. 13;

FIG. 18 is a partial elevation view of a trim spacer in accordance with the invention, showing specifically a snap socket of the trim spacer;

FIG. 19 is a partial view of a snap assemblage in accordance with the invention, showing detail associated with a snap post in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 20 is an elevation view showing a trim spacer releasably interconnected to adjacent border picket assemblies, and specifically showing the capability of adjusting alignment between the two border picket assemblies;

FIG. 21 is a plan view of a border picket assembly in accordance with the invention, with a trim spacer releasably interconnected to a snap assemblage associated with the border picket assembly, and illustrating the capability of pivotable rotation of the trim spacer relative to the interconnected snap post;

FIG. 22 is a plan view of an angled trim spacer in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 23 is an elevation view of the angled trim spacer illustrated in FIG. 22;

FIG. 24 is an elevation view in part, illustrating two adjacent border picket assemblies interconnected with an angled trim spacer, and illustrating the capability of providing room for alignment of the adjacent border picket assemblies;

FIG. 25 is an elevation view showing the interconnection of a series of border picket assemblies in accordance with the invention; and

FIG. 26 is an elevation view similar to FIG. 25, but illustrating the border picket assemblies being interconnected with angled trim spacers in accordance with the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The principles of the invention are disclosed, by way of example, in a decorative border structure 100 as illustrated in FIGS. 1-26 and described in subsequent paragraphs herein. A decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention is of a configuration which facilitates assembly. Also, advantageously, the border structure 100 provides the capability of curvature of the border structure through the use of pivotable locking means to secure together in a pivotable configuration independent elements of the border structure 100. In addition to the foregoing, the decorative border structure 100 includes means which facilitate use of the structure on inclinations and declinations of surface terrain. Still further, with construction of the decorative border structure 100 through the use of polypropylene materials, the border structure 100 facilitates cleaning and is of a hardness which reduces the probability of damage from impingement of objects against the border structure 100, such as rocks, stones and the like.

In addition to the foregoing, the border structure 100 is of an interconnecting configuration which will withstand wind conditions without inadvertent disassembly. Still further, one aspect of the invention relates to the use of reinforcement means for elements which secure the decorative border structure 100 into surface terrain. Therefore, the border structure 100 is not particularly subject to damage during assembly and during installation within a surface terrain.

Although the interconnection arrangements of the decorative border structure 100 will not easily disassemble in severe environmental conditions, the structure 100 is capable of manual disassembly without the use of any significant or complex tools. Such disassembly facilitates storage of the border structure 100 during the off season, as well as permitting rearrangement of the elements of the border structure 100 to provide for varying configurations.

Another aspect of the decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention is the concept that with the border structure 100 constructed of polypropylene, such material is reprocessable and thus “environmentally friendly.” Still further, with a polypropylene construction, the border structure 100 does not require painting. With the use of known stabilizers with the polypropylene materials, the border structure 100 can be made UV stable, and can be run in a number of different colors. Correspondingly, with the polypropylene materials, the surface of the border structure 100 can be constructed in a manner so that it includes an aesthetically pleasing “grained” surface.

Finally, the border structure 100 in accordance with the invention can be characterized as bi-directionally symmetrical, in that a view from the back of the decorative border structure 100 will essentially correspond to the view from the front of the border structure 100. This symmetry provides an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Turning to the drawings, the decorative border structure 100 is illustrated in FIG. 1 in front of a tree within a lawn. Although decorative border structures can be utilized for various landscape purposes as illustrated in FIG. 1, concepts associated with the invention are not necessarily limited to structures which are of the same relative configuration and function as the decorative border structure 100. The border structure 100 shown in FIG. 1 includes a series of three spaced apart border picket assemblies 102, with adjacent ones of the border picket assemblies 102 interconnected through the use of trim spacers 104. A series of pivoting locks 106 which include the trim spacers 104 and snap assemblages 126 (described in subsequent paragraphs herein) provide the actual means for pivotably interconnecting adjacent border picket assemblies 102. The pivoting locks 106 can be characterized as an “interconnecting means.”

An individual one of the border picket assemblies 102 is illustrated in FIG. 2 and FIG. 9. FIG. 9 also shows the interconnection of one of the trim spacers 104 to the border picket assembly 102. The border picket assembly 102 includes a picket portion 108 which includes a lower body 110 in the form of an elongated structure having a rectangular cross-sectional configuration. Interconnected or integral with the lower body 110 at the upper end thereof is a tapered upper portion 112. As shown primarily in FIGS. 9 and 13, the tapered upper portion 112 is of a four-sided configuration with a substantially pyramidical structure having four triangular sides 114 which taper upwardly to an apex 116.

As shown primarily in FIGS. 2, 9, 10 and 11, connected to or otherwise integral with the picket portion 108 is a stake 118 projecting downwardly from the bottom of the lower body 110. As shown particularly in FIGS. 9, 10 and 11, the stake is of a wedge-shaped configuration with a downward taper terminating at a lower point 120.

The stake 118, as primarily shown in FIGS. 10, 11 and 12, includes a central web 122 integral with pairs of reinforcing ribs 124. The reinforcing ribs 124 provide for substantive reinforcement of the structure of stake 118, and will tend to prevent damage (by inadvertent bending or the like) during installation and insertion into ground terrain.

Turning now to the upper structure of the border picket assemblies 102, and with initial reference primarily to FIGS. 5, 9 and 13, each of the border picket assemblies 102 includes a pair of snap assemblages 126. Each of the snap assemblages 126 includes a standard 128 extending laterally outward from opposing sides of the lower body 110 of the picket portion 108. The standard 128 acts as an “extending means.” Each of these standards 128 is preferably integral with the lower body 110 of the picket portion 108. The standards 128 may have a rectangular cross-sectional configuration. At the side of each standard 128 opposing the side connected to the picket portion 108 is an interconnected snap post 130. The snap post 130 has an elongated configuration and extends vertically along the lower body 110 in a parallel orientation thereto. The snap post 130 also has a substantially cylindrical cross-sectional configuration, although various shapes can be utilized in accordance with the invention. At upper and lower ends of each snap post 130 are a pair of snap retainers 132. The snap retainers 132 act as opposing flanges or collars to the snap post 130, and have diameters which are relatively larger than the diameters of the cross-sectional configurations of the corresponding snap post 130. As will be described in subsequent paragraphs herein, the snap post 130 operates as part of a pivoting lock 106 to pivotally secure together adjacent border picket assemblies 102. The snap retainers 132 assist in preventing inadvertent disconnection between adjacent border picket assemblies 102. The foregoing essentially describes the entirety of the elements of each of the border picket assemblies 102 in accordance with the invention.

With reference to FIGS. 5, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19, the decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention also includes a series of trim spacers 104 as earlier stated with respect to FIG. 1. Each of the trim spacers 104 includes a central web 134 having a configuration as primarily shown in FIGS. 14, 15 and 16. Interconnected to opposing ends of the central web 134 (and preferably integral therewith) are a pair of opposing snap sockets 136. With reference to FIGS. 14, 15, 16 and 18, each of the snap sockets 136 includes a pair of opposing fingers 138 having an arcuate configuration. These opposing fingers 138 form a partially annular structure in cross-sectional configuration, but leave an arc which forms a socket opening 140. The socket openings 140 are particularly shown in FIGS. 14, 16 and 18. The trim spacers 104 are formed of a material such that the opposing fingers 138 are somewhat flexible and resilient in nature. This flexibility and resiliency facilitates removal of connection of the trim spacers 104 to the snap assemblages 126.

The assembly of a decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention, through use of the border picket assemblies 102 and trim spacers 104, will now be described. For purposes of interconnecting one of the border picket assemblies 102 to a proposed adjacent border picket assembly 102, the border picket assemblies 102 are placed near each other, and a trim spacer 104 is positioned so that one of the snap sockets 136 is at the same height and adjacent to one of the snap assemblages 126. The trim spacer 104 is then “snap-fitted” with the snap assemblage 126 by snap fitting the snap post 130 into the snap socket 136. Of course, for purposes of this type of interconnection, the snap sockets 136 and snap post 130 must be appropriately and relatively sized. The snap socket 136 should be fitted with the snap post 130 in a manner such that the trim spacer 104 is pivotable relative to the interconnected border picket assembly 102 through pivoting movement of the snap socket 136 relative to its coupled snap post 130. This type of configuration and rotation is illustrated in FIG. 21.

With the trim spacer 104 interconnected to one border picket assembly 102 through the coupling of the snap socket 136 to the snap post 130, a second border picket assembly 102 can be positioned so that one of its snap posts 130 is adjacent to the other snap socket 136 of the trim spacer 104. This opposing snap socket 136 can then be snap-fitted into the corresponding snap post 130 of the second border picket assembly 102. In this manner, two adjacent border picket assemblies 102 are coupled to each other so that they have a pivotable relationship within a horizontal plane extending perpendicular to the two dimensional drawing of FIG. 9. Accordingly, the appropriate pivotable interconnection can exist. Through coupling of a series of border picket assemblies 102 in this manner, an elongated decorative border structure 100 can be achieved. Such a configuration is illustrated in FIG. 25.

In addition to favorably providing for pivotable interconnection between adjacent border picket assemblies 102, the use of the trim spacer 104 with the snap assemblages 126 can also provide an additional advantage. Specifically, with reference to FIG. 20, the height of the trim spacer 104 can be adjusted such that it is less than the elongated and longitudinal length of the snap post 130 of the border picket assemblies 102. With this difference between the height of trim spacer 104 and the length of the snap post 130, an “adjustment length” or “room for alignment” is favorably provided between the coupled adjacent border picket assemblies 102. For example, with the configuration illustrated in FIG. 20, a distance X is provided for vertical adjustment between the coupled border picket assemblies 102. The snap retainers 132 prevent disconnection of the snap post 130 from the snap sockets 136 in the vertical direction.

The coupling of the trim spacers 104 with border picket assemblies 102 has now been described. In accordance with this description, the snap assemblages 126 and trim spacers 104 can be characterized as providing for “pivoting locks” 106 which pivotably couple adjacent border picket assemblies 102.

Although the trim spacers 104 provide for adjustment of alignment as described with respect to FIG. 20, there may be situations where the decorative border structure 100 is to be used on terrain of relatively substantial inclinations or declinations. In such situations, the alignment adjustment permitted through the use of trim spacer 104 as described with respect to FIG. 20 may not be sufficient to compensate for the inclination/declination. In such a situation, an angled trim spacer 142 as illustrated in FIGS. 22, 23 and 24 may be utilized. As with the trim spacer 104, the angled trim spacer 142 includes a pair of opposing snap sockets 144, each with a pair of opposing fingers 146. The sockets 144 and fingers 146 have a structure substantially corresponding to the structure of the snap sockets 136 and fingers 138 associated with the trim spacers 104. However, while the trim spacer 104 included a straight central web 134, the angled trim spacer 142 has a central web 148 which is angled as illustrated in FIGS. 22, 23 and 24. This angled configuration results in an elevation view as shown in these drawings which is trapezoidal in configuration. With this configuration, a substantially greater vertical adjustment can be made between adjacent border picket assemblies 102. With this angled configuration of the angled trim spacer 142, adjacent border picket assemblies 102 can be positioned as illustrated in FIG. 24, with one of the border picket assemblies 102 being positioned in a substantially higher plane than the adjacent and coupled border picket assembly 102. With a series of these border picket assemblies 102 interconnected through the use of angled trim spacers 142, a decorative border structure 100 can be constructed so as to appear as illustrated in FIG. 26.

In accordance with the foregoing description, a decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention can be readily assembled. Also, with the pivotable interconnections of trim spacers 104, angled trim spacers 142, and border picket assemblies 102, a curvature can be provided to the decorative border structure 100. In addition, through the use of the permitted alignment adjustment for the trim spacers 104, and with the use of angled trim spacers 142, the border picket assemblies 102 of the decorative border structure 100 can be adjusted so as to be appropriately positioned on ground terrain of varying inclinations and declinations.

Although a decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention can be constructed of various materials, the inventors have discovered that construction with polypropylene material may be of substantial advantage. Such materials will permit decorative border structures 100 to be readily cleaned, and to be resistant to damage caused by high impact, such as from stones, rocks or the like.

Still further, with the particular assembly configurations used with the decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention, the border structure 100 will withstand moderate wind conditions without inadvertent disassembly. Also, with the structure 100, the stakes 118 have means for reinforcement, and will not bend easily upon installation or other assembly. With the use of polypropylene, stabilizers can be added to the polypropylene so as to provide for a UV stable material, which can be run in various colors.

The structural configuration of the decorative border structure 100 in accordance with the invention also permits relative ease of disassembly for purposes of storage. Also, the border structure 100 can be disassembled and reassembled in a manner so as to facilitate rearrangement of varying configurations of the border structures 100.

With the use of polypropylene materials, such materials are reprocessable and “environmentally friendly”. The materials also readily permit use of an aesthetically pleasing surface, such as formation of a “grained” surface. In addition, decorative border structures 100 constructed of these materials will not require painting.

Finally, with the particular structures 100 shown in accordance with the invention, and particularly with the coupling between the adjacent border picket assemblies 102 provided laterally on each of the assemblies 102, the decorative border structure 100 is symmetrical about itself. That is, there is no “front” structure, relative to a “back” structure.

It will be apparent to those skilled in the pertinent arts that other embodiments of decorative border structures in accordance with the invention can be achieved. That is, the principles of a decorative border structure in accordance with the invention are not limited to the specific embodiments described herein. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications and other variations of the above-described illustrative embodiments of the invention may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the invention.