Title:
Synthetic ground cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A ground cover element, comprising an elongated support member, at least one anchoring member, and a plurality of lateral extensions supported by the elongated support member. Each of the lateral extensions has a wood chip, mulch, leaf, lava rock, peastone gravel, pebble, tree bark chip, wood stick, marble chip, rock, grass, or stone appearance. Placing a number of the invented objects around the base of a building or other structure creates a ground cover that prevents erosion, retards fire, and suppresses the growth of unwanted vegetation. The size of the invention allows for arrangement of the ground cover around structures of varying shape.



Inventors:
Garza, Mario C. (Bay City, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/406117
Publication Date:
10/18/2007
Filing Date:
04/18/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
405/15, 405/302.6
International Classes:
E02B3/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SINGH, SUNIL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jay M. Schloff (Ferndale, MI, US)
Claims:
1. A synthetic ground cover element comprising: an elongated support member; a plurality of irregularly shaped lateral extensions extending from said elongated support member; and at least one anchoring member attached to said elongated support member and/or one or more of said irregularly shaped lateral extensions.

2. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 1, wherein said lateral extensions have one or more surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples.

3. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 1, wherein each of said lateral extensions comprises a plurality of interconnected irregularly shaped chips.

4. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 3, wherein said plurality of interconnected irregularly shaped chips have a staggered arrangement with respect to one another.

5. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 3, wherein said plurality of interconnected irregularly shaped chips have a random arrangement with respect to one another.

6. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 3, wherein each of said plurality of chips have one or more surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples.

7. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 3, wherein said plurality of chips resembles one or more selected from the group consisting of lava rocks, peastone gravel, pebbles, tree bark chips, wood sticks, marble chips, stones, grass, and rocks.

8. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 3, wherein said plurality of chips have a mulch appearance.

9. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 3, wherein each of said plurality of chips have a leaf appearance.

10. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 3, wherein each of said plurality of chips have a wood chip appearance.

11. A synthetic ground cover comprising: a plurality of ground cover elements, each ground cover element comprising: an elongated support member; a plurality of irregularly shaped lateral extensions extending from said elongated support member; and at least one anchoring member attached to said elongated support member and/or one or more of said irregularly shaped lateral extensions.

12. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 11, wherein said lateral extensions have one or more surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples.

13. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 11, wherein said plurality of lateral extensions has the appearance of one or more selected from the group consisting of lava rocks, peastone gravel, pebbles, tree bark chips, wood sticks, marble chips, stones, grass, and rocks.

14. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 11, wherein each of said lateral extensions comprises a plurality of interconnected irregularly shaped chips.

15. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 14, wherein said plurality of interconnected chips have a staggered arrangement with respect to one another.

16. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 14, wherein said plurality of interconnected chips have a random arrangement with respect to one another.

17. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 14, wherein each of said plurality of chips have one or more surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples.

18. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 14, wherein each of said plurality of chips have a leaf appearance.

19. The synthetic ground cover element according to claim 14, wherein each of said plurality of chips have a wood chip appearance.

20. The synthetic ground cover according to claim 11, wherein said plurality of ground cover elements overlap and/or abut one another.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to landscaping materials. More particularly, the present invention relates to a synthetic ground cover.

BACKGROUND

It is often desirable to suppress plant growth and provide ground cover in certain ground regions for ornamentation, erosion control, and fire protection. Ground cover is typically used in areas along the sides of a driveway or around the periphery of a porch or building.

Different types of ground cover have generally included applying to a predetermined ground region ornamental pebbles, lava rocks, mulch, wood chips, or other artificial ground coverings. Types of ground cover such as pebbles, lava rocks, and wood chips can become easily displaced when exposed to wind and rain and foot traffic from humans and animals. As such, these types of ground cover must maintained and replaced periodically so that they remain in the area that they are intended to cover, which raking and maintenance involves a cost and time commitment on the part of the building owner seeking the benefit of ground cover.

Mulch and woodchips are typically used to provide an aesthetically appealing appearance and to retain underground moisture. Most mulches are made from small chunks of bark, shredded wood and/or sawdust processed from trees, i.e. natural wood materials. Because mulches and wood chips are made from natural materials, they eventually decompose and fade in color. Due to this decomposition and fading, mulches and woodchips are typically replaced on an annual basis.

Various types of synthetic ground cover have been developed to overcome many of these deficiencies commensurate with natural types of ground cover. Different types of synthetic ground cover have been described in detail in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,317,309; 5,615,971; and 5,910,514.

In U.S. Pat. No. 4,317,309, Sheldon discloses a device for suppressing plant growth within a predetermined region of ground. The device comprises a plurality of relatively flat opaque pieces that may be interconnected in an arbitrary pattern. With regard to structure, the device requires that individual pieces be linked together to perform the intended function. While the device may be used to suppress plant growth, the appearance of the ground cover device does not simulate or otherwise resemble that of natural ground cover, thereby making it aesthetically unappealing. Furthermore, the device requires that the individual components be linked together physically, thus limiting the possible spatial arrangements of the components as ground cover.

In U.S. Pat. No. 5,615,971, Boeve discloses a ground covering element that consists of a plurality of components that must also be linked together in order to achieve the intended ground cover. The components, once linked, form a mesh that serves as the ground cover. Similar to the '309 patent, the ground covering element requires linking of individual components and does not have the appearance of natural ground cover.

In U.S. Pat. No. 5,910,514, Greenberg et al. disclose synthetic wood chips that consist of rubber particles and a colorant that is used to give the particles the appearance of a natural mulch. The synthetic wood chips are formed by shredding larger pieces of vulcanized rubber and are spread over the intended landscape in the same manner that traditional natural mulches are spread. These synthetic wood chips have the same problem as traditional ground covering in that they do not include a component by which the products can be anchored to the ground that they cover. Thus the synthetic wood chips suffer the same problem presented by natural wood chips, pebbles and rocks, namely, that they are subject to displacement by wind, rain, or human or animal traffic.

While various types of synthetic ground cover are known, these types of ground cover do not allow for a random arrangement of components that take the appearance of natural ground cover while being anchored to the ground sought to be protected. As such, there is a need for ground cover that simulates the appearance of natural mulches and other ground covers, that can be installed in a random arrangement of its component pieces, and that can be anchored to the ground so as to resist meteorological or animal forces.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Disclosed herein, is a synthetic ground cover comprising a plurality of ground cover elements. The plurality of ground cover elements may be placed about a section of ground in an overlapping and/or abutting position with respect to one another so as to cover the entire section of ground.

Each ground cover element comprises an elongated support member, a plurality of irregularly shaped lateral extensions extending from the elongated support member, and at least one anchoring member attached to the elongated support member and/or one or more of the lateral extensions. Each of the lateral extensions may have one or more surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples. The lateral extensions may have the appearance of mulch clusters. The lateral extensions may also comprise a plurality of interconnected irregularly shaped chips. The plurality of interconnected chips may have a staggered or random arrangement with respect to one another. Each of the plurality of interconnected irregularly shaped chips may have one or more surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples. Each of the plurality of chips may have the appearance of a leaf, wood chip, lava rocks, peastone gravel, pebbles, tree bark chips, wood sticks, marble chips, stones, grass, or rocks.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1, is a depiction of an embodiment of the present invention whereby each lateral extension resembles wood chips.

FIG. 2, is a depiction of an embodiment of the present invention whereby each lateral extension resembles leaves.

FIG. 3, is a depiction of an embodiment of the present invention whereby each lateral extension resembles a cluster of mulch.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention there is provided a synthetic ground cover. The synthetic ground cover has the form of natural wood chips, mulch, or plants and provides an aesthetically appealing appearance. The synthetic ground cover may also provide fire retardation and retain moisture for shrubbery while suppressing growth of undesired plants. The synthetic ground cover also retains its position more so than traditional natural ground cover such as pebbles, rocks, wood chips, and mulch upon exposure to water and wind. Furthermore, the synthetic ground cover is resistant to ultraviolet radiation and therefore will retain color longer than organic types of ground cover.

FIG. 1, is a depiction of a preferred embodiment of a synthetic ground cover element 10A in accordance with the present invention. The synthetic ground cover generally comprises one or more ground cover elements 10A. Each ground cover element comprises a support member 20, a plurality lateral extensions supported by the support member, and one or more anchoring members 30. The plurality of lateral extensions may extend laterally from the ends and/or sides of the support member. The one or more anchoring members 30 may be attached to and extend downward or at a downwardly angle from the elongated support member and/or one or more of the plurality of lateral extensions. The one or more anchoring members secure the synthetic ground cover to the ground on which it is placed.

The support member 20 may be any structure that supports the plurality of lateral extensions. Preferably, the support member is an elongated rod with a circular, triangular, square, rectangular, or polygonal cross section. The support member may be integral with or detachably connected to the one or more lateral extensions and the one or more anchoring members. While the length of the support member may vary as needed, preferably the support member has a length of approximately one foot.

The anchoring means 30 may comprise any type anchoring structure that secures the support member and/or one or more of the lateral extensions to the ground. The anchoring means may comprise an anchoring member extending downwardly or at a downward angle from the support member and/or one or more of the lateral extensions. The anchoring member 30 may be an elongated rod. The elongated rod may have a circular, triangular, square, rectangular, polygonal, or X-shaped cross section. The rod may also include one or more barbs that help to secure the anchor in the ground. While the anchor may vary in length, preferably the length of the anchoring rod is approximately three inches.

Each of the one or more lateral extensions may comprise a plurality of interconnected chips 40. Each of the chips may have an irregular shape where one or more of the width, length, and thickness of the chips are varied throughout each chip. One or more of the chips may have a jagged edge. The shape of each chip 40 may be the same or differ from one another. The surface of each of the chips may also have one or surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples. The plurality of chips on each of the lateral extensions may have a staggered or random arrangement with respect to one another. Furthermore, two or more of the lateral extensions may be interconnected. Each of the plurality of chips may have a wood chip appearance as depicted in FIG. 1. Alternatively, as depicted in the ground cover element 10B of FIG. 2, each of the plurality of chips 50 may have a leaf appearance. For chips having a leaf appearance 50, the chips may resemble the shape of any type leaf from plants or trees.

In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, as depicted in FIG. 3, each of the lateral extensions of the ground cover element 10C may comprise a single member having an irregular shape whereby one or more of the width, length, and thickness of the lateral extension 60 is varied throughout each lateral extension 60. Furthermore, each lateral extension 60 may have one or more holes disposed therein. The shape of each lateral extension 60 in the ground cover element 10C may be the same or differ from one another. The lateral extensions may also be interconnected with one another. The surface of each of the lateral extensions may have one or more surface characteristics selected from grooves, ridges, striations, depressions, and dimples. Each of the lateral extensions 60 may also have a jagged edge. The lateral extensions may have the appearance of clusters of mulch. The lateral extensions may also have the appearance of lava rocks, peastone gravel, pebbles, tree bark chips, wood sticks, marble chips, stones, grass, or rocks.

The ground cover elements in accordance with the present invention may be comprised of a polymeric material or rubber material. Examples of various polymeric materials that may be used to manufacture the ground cover elements are polypropylene, polyethylene, PET, and polyvinyl chloride. The ground cover elements may be painted or may include pigments which give the ground cover elements the appearance of wood chips, mulch, or plants. Preferably, the paint or pigments are resistant to ultraviolet light and do not fade over time.

Each ground cover element may be manufactured as a single piece or the support member, the lateral extensions, and the anchoring member may be produced separately with subsequent assembly. The synthetic ground cover may be produced via various molding processes known in the art. Preferably, the synthetic ground cover is formed via an injection molding process.

When used to cover a section of ground, a plurality of the ground cover elements is placed about the ground adjacent to one another. As each ground cover element is placed onto the ground, the anchoring member is inserted into the ground and prevents movement of the ground cover element. The ground cover elements may overlap or abut each other such that the entire section of ground is covered.

While there have been described what are believed to be the preferred embodiments of the present invention, those skilled in the art will recognize that other and further changes and modifications may be made thereto without departing from the spirit of the invention, and it is intended to claim all such changes and modifications as fall within the true scope of the invention.