Title:
Elevation panel
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An elevation panel for a fence is described, comprising an elongate member having post-engaging ends and a bottom, sides, and a top extending between the post engaging ends, the sides of the elongate member narrowing from the bottom to the top to form a base with an elevation ridge extending upwardly from the base, the elevation ridge having a height and extending between the post engaging ends, and the post engaging ends being shaped to engage posts of a fence.



Inventors:
Huizingh, Herman (Edmonton, CA)
Application Number:
11/099544
Publication Date:
10/12/2006
Filing Date:
04/06/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
GARCIA, ERNESTO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Lambert Intellectual Property Law (Edmonton, AB, CA)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An elevation panel for a fence comprising: an elongate member having post-engaging ends and a bottom, sides, and a top extending between the post engaging ends; the sides of the elongate member narrowing from the bottom to the top to form a base with an elevation ridge extending upwardly from the base, the elevation ridge having a height and extending between the post engaging ends; and the post engaging ends being shaped to engage posts of a fence.

2. The elevation panel of claim 1 in which the height of the elevation ridge varies along the elongate member.

3. The elevation panel of claim 2 installed between posts of a fence, and the height of the elevation ridge corresponds to a change in elevation of the ground surface between the posts of the fence.

4. The elevation panel of claim 1 in which the base extends laterally on either side of the ridge.

5. The elevation panel of claim 1 in which the height of the elevation ridge is constant along its length.

6. The elevation panel of claim 1 in which the sides of the elongate member curve inwardly from the base to the top.

7. The elevation panel of claim 1 in which the base has a flat top surface and the elevation ridge is perpendicular to the flat top surface of the base.

8. The elevation panel of claim 1 in which the elevation panel is made from reinforced concrete.

9. The elevation panel of claim 1 installed in a fence and in which the post engaging ends rest on piles of the fence.

10. The elevation panel of claim 1 installed in a fence and in which the base has a flat top surface, and the flat top surface of the base is even with a ground surface to facilitate removal of vegetation adjacent the elevation panel.

11. The elevation panel of claim 1 installed in a fence and in which the top of the elongate member is level when the elevation panel is installed.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Fences fulfill many purposes, for example keeping out unwanted animals or trespassers, keeping in animals or children, defining an area of ownership, providing protection and privacy, and reducing noise and the accumulation of debris from outside of the property. The typical landowner will build a fence based on finding a balance between the purposes the fence must fulfill and the cost of installation and upkeep of the fence along with aesthetic considerations. For example, a chain link fence may be suitable for providing some protection, for keeping out unwanted animals or trespassers, and for being relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. However, it may not be suitable if the landowner is seeking privacy, aesthetic appeal, or reduced outside noise.

More recently, modular fencing has become more popular, and in particular, concrete fencing made up of panels of reinforced concrete that are typically slotted between posts, with the bottom panel resting on the piles to which the posts are attached, typically by embedding the posts in the piles. These concrete fences can be cast in molds to form a variety of designs. The concrete fence is sturdy, requires little maintenance, can be installed quickly, and meets many of the requirements of the typical landowner.

As with most fencing, the typical concrete fence panel extends between posts and the ground in a vertical direction, but does not extend outwardly at the bottom in a horizontal direction. As such, grass or other vegetation is able to grow immediately adjacent the fence line, which requires the use of edge trimming devices to keep the border between the fence and the ground looking tidy. This also requires additional time and labour beyond mowing the lawn. Various methods could be applied to prevent the growth of vegetation beyond certain defined borders, but this also requires additional time and materials for installation.

Because of the method of installation typically used for concrete fencing, if the ground between posts is uneven or sloping, a gap exists between the ground and the panel in order to keep the top of the bottom panel level, along with the tops of each successive panel placed on top of it. These gaps, depending on their size, can be unsightly. Also, in order to compensate for the slope, additional support must be provided for the panel at one end, either by having the pile stick out of the ground on that side, which has disadvantages of its own and adds complications to the process of preparing the site for pouring the pile, or by otherwise supporting the panel end in some way.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an elevation panel for a fence comprising an elongate member having post-engaging ends and a bottom, sides, and a top extending between the post engaging ends, the sides of the elongate member narrowing from the bottom to the top to form a base with an elevation ridge extending upwardly from the base, the elevation ridge having a height and extending between the post engaging ends, and the post engaging ends being shaped to engage posts of a fence.

These and other aspects of the invention are set out in the claims, which are incorporated here by reference.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described with reference to the figures, in which like reference characters denote like elements, by way of example, and in which:

FIG. 1A is a side view of the elevation panel for use in a sloping application;

FIG. 1B is a side view of the elevation panel for use where the ground is substantially level;

FIG. 2A is a cross-section view of the elevation panel for use in all applications;

FIG. 2B is a cross-section view of the elevation panel at an end for use in a sloping application;

FIGS. 3A and 3B are cross-sections of the elevation panel in different embodiments;

FIGS. 4A and 4B are top views of post engaging ends of the elevation panel using different configurations for different types of posts;

FIG. 5 is a side view of a concrete fence with elevation panels; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the elevation panel in conjunction with other components of a fence and surrounding vegetation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the claims, the word “comprising” is used in its inclusive sense and does not exclude other elements being present. The indefinite article “a” before a claim feature does not exclude more than one of the feature being present.

As seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B, an elevation panel 10 is placed on piles 12 between posts 14 and above the ground 16. The elevation panel 10 has an elongate member 18 forming a bottom 20, sides 22, and a top 24 extending between post engaging ends 26. The elongate member 18 narrows from the bottom 20 to the top 24 to form a base 28 with an elevation ridge 30 extending upwardly from the base 28.

The top 24 is preferably flat to correspond to a typical concrete panel, but may be any shape to conform to the next panel placed on top of it. For example, the top 24 of the elongate member 18 may have a tongue to insert into the groove of an adjacent concrete panel, or pins to insert into holes in the adjacent panel, or some other manner of engaging the bottom of the adjacent panel if desired, although this is not necessary. It should also be understood that some other type of conventional fencing other than concrete fencing may be placed on top of the elevation panel 10, such as a wood fencing panel or section, vinyl fencing panel or section, or some other fencing system, if this is desired. The advantages of the elevation panel 10 remain the same regardless of the type of fencing system used.

The top 24 of the elongate member 18 will typically be level when the elevation panel 10 is installed, thus permitting the installation of fence panels or sections that require no modification prior to installation. Having standard size fence panels or sections is a great advantage to the installer because rather than having to manufacture or otherwise have on hand full size fence panels or sections that account for the change in elevation of the ground surface between fence posts 14, all the fence panels or sections can be the same dimensions.

The height of the elevation ridge 30 may vary gradually from one post engaging end 26 to the other post engaging end 26, and may also vary in thickness between the sides 22 of the elongate member 18. Generally, an elevation ridge 30 two inches thick towards the top 24 is adequate. As seen in FIGS. 1A and 1B, and in cross-section near the post engaging ends in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the height of the elevation ridge 30 of a typical elevation panel 10 having a slope will be shorter at one end, as in FIG. 2A, than at the other end, as in FIG. 2B. Typically, the shorter height of the elevation ridge 30 will extend one inch upwardly from the base 28 of the elongate member 18, whereas the taller height of the elevation ridge 30 will extend six or seven inches from the base 28 of the elongate member 18. However, the taller height of the elevation ridge 30 could be any height to accommodate the change in elevation of the ground surface 32 between posts 14. The base 28 may extend laterally from the elevation ridge 30 any distance sufficient to permit passage of the wheels of a lawnmower over the base 28.

Where the ground surface 34 is level, thus maintaining a constant elevation between the posts 14 of a fence, as shown in FIG. 1B, the elevation ridge 30 at both post engaging ends 26 will be the same height, roughly one inch above the base 28 of the elongate member 18. It is also possible that the elevation ridge 30 at both ends could be the same height, while in the middle, the elevation ridge 30 might have a height of four inches, as for example, where the elevation of the ground surface 32 was roughly level at the posts 14 but dipped in the middle, resulting in an elevation panel 10 that was V-shaped. Generally, because the distance between sections of the fence is eight to ten feet, the change in elevation will slope in one direction only.

As shown in cross-section in FIGS. 3A and 3B, the edge 21 formed between the bottom 20 and the sides 22 is preferably curved. Because the elevation panel 10 rests on piles and not the ground 16, a void 17 is created between the elevation panel 10 and the ground 16 to minimize frost heaving. The curved edge 21 also tends to force the ground 16 outward and away from the elevation panel 10 if the ground 16 does happen to move as a result of frost heaving, thus further minimizing the effects of frost movement on the placement of the elevation panel 10 and any fence panels or sections rested on the elevation panel 10.

The base 28 may be any thickness, and may be reinforced with reinforcing materials such as reinforcing rods 19, but typically, the thickness of the base 28 will vary depending on the length of the elevation panel 10. For example, for an elevation panel 10 eight feet long, the thickness of the base 28 could be two inches. The sides 22 of the elongate member 18 may be substantially perpendicular to the bottom 20, as in FIG. 3A, with the base 28 extending laterally on either side of the elevation ridge 30. Alternatively, the sides 22 of the elongate member 18 may curve inwardly from the base 28 to the top 24 of the elongate member 18 to minimize the collection of water or ice on the base 28 of the elongate member 18. The elevation ridge 30 may also be reinforced in similar fashion to the base 28, if this is desired.

As can be seen in FIGS. 4A and 4B, the post engaging ends 26 of the elevation panels 10 can be any shape to conform to the ends of the post 14 being used. In a preferred embodiment, the post engaging ends 26 will be formed to slot into a post 14, but the post engaging ends 26 could be circular or rectangular or some other shape to surround a conventional post.

A fence 34 using elevation panels 10 according to the invention is shown in FIG. 5. To install a fence using elevation panels 10, the installer will install piles 12 and posts 14 in conventional fashion. Preferably, a portion of the ground 16 along the fence line will be removed to provide a clear line between the piles 12 so that no part of the elevation panel 10 will be supported by the ground surface 32, and to allow for bringing the landscape level to the base 28 of the elongate member 18 of the elevation panel 10. If the elevation panel 10 can be supported solely by the piles 12 without removing a portion of the ground, then removal of the ground 16 is not strictly necessary. Once the piles 12 and posts 14 have been installed, the installer assesses the elevation of the surface 32 of the ground 16 between the posts and selects an elevation panel 10 where the height of the elevation ridge 30 varies accordingly. The elevation panel 10 is then placed between the posts 14 so that the elevation panel 10 rests on the piles 12. Additional fencing 36 can then be placed on top of the elevation panel 10.

The installer may repeat the process of removing the ground 16, selecting and inserting the appropriate elevation panel 10, and adding additional fencing sections or panels 36 on top of the elevation panels 10 along the entire length of the fence 34. Finally, as shown in FIG. 6, the surface 32 of the ground 16 may be brought up to a level roughly equal to the base 28 of the elongate member 18 if this is desired for grass cutting purposes. Alternatively, the installer could bring the surface 32 of the ground 16 level with the top 24 of the plate 18 for each section before carrying on to the next section. It should be understood that the elevation panel 10 could also be inserted into a gap in an existing fence between a fence panel 36 and the surface of the ground 32, although preferably, the elevation panel 10 is installed first with the preparation of the ground surface 32 as previously described.

Bringing the surface 32 of the ground level with the base 28 of the elongate member 18 is generally preferred since the wheels of a lawnmower could then pass over the base 28 of the elongate member 18 and mow vegetation to the appropriate level without requiring the use of edge trimming devices, thus providing a great savings in time and simplifying landscape maintenance. The elevation panel 10 has the added advantage of preventing garbage, leaves, or other refuse, from blowing under the fence 36 because the elevation panel 10 substantially eliminates any gap between the fence section or panel 36 and the ground 32. It also has the advantage, particularly along roadsides and ditches where vegetation may not be regularly mowed, of providing a fire stop if, for example, a cigarette is thrown from a passing vehicle. In a preferred embodiment, where the elevation panel 10 is made from cast, reinforced concrete, the elevation panel 10 will not catch fire.

Immaterial modifications may be made to the embodiments of the invention described here without departing from the invention.