Title:
Outdoor and garden structure for displaying ornamental items
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An outdoor and garden structure for displaying ornamental items permits people to express themselves in an outdoor environment. The outdoor and garden structure includes a pair of laterally spaced uprights secured to the ground in a vertical orientation, and a plurality of cross members disposed laterally between the uprights. At least one of the cross members may be provided with an anchor for suspending an ornamental item within an opening defined by the uprights, the cross member and an adjacent cross member. A shelf may be attached to and positioned on an upper surface of a cross member for supporting an ornamental item within an opening on the cross member. The outdoor and garden structure may further include a cap member positioned adjacent and extending laterally between the uprights. The cap member may include a pair of transversely spaced headers and a plurality of lattices extending transversely between the headers.



Inventors:
Padden, James (Mooresville, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/788653
Publication Date:
10/25/2007
Filing Date:
04/20/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VALENTI, ANDREA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Christopher C. Dremann (Granite Falls, NC, US)
Claims:
That which is claimed is:

1. An outdoor and garden structure for displaying ornamental items comprising: a pair of laterally spaced uprights secured to the ground in a vertical orientation; a plurality of cross members disposed laterally between the uprights, at least one of the cross members provided with means for displaying an ornamental item between the cross member and an adjacent cross member.

2. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 1, wherein the means for displaying an ornamental item comprises an anchor attached to and depending downwardly from the cross member.

3. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 2, wherein the anchor is selected from the group consisting of a hook and an eyelet.

4. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 1, wherein the means for displaying an ornamental item comprises a shelf attached to and positioned on an upper surface of the cross member.

5. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 1, wherein at least one ornamental item is displayed thereon by suspending the ornamental item from a cross member.

6. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 1, wherein at least one ornamental item is displayed thereon by supporting the ornamental item on a cross member.

7. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 1, wherein each of the uprights comprises an elongate, substantially rectangular post having a generally square cross-section and wherein each of the cross members comprises an elongate, substantially rectangular post having a generally square cross-section equal in area to the cross-section of the uprights.

8. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 1, wherein each of the uprights comprises an elongate, substantially cylindrical pole having a generally circular cross-section and wherein each of the cross members comprises an elongate, substantially cylindrical pole having a generally circular cross-section equal in area to the cross-section of the uprights.

9. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 1, further comprising a cap member adjacent an upper end of the uprights and extending laterally between the uprights.

10. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 9, wherein the cap member comprises a pair of transversely spaced headers and a plurality of lattices extending transversely between the headers.

11. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 10, wherein each of the headers and each of the lattices is relatively planar and has an arch formed at each end.

12. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 10, wherein each of the headers is arcuate and each of the lattices is substantially cylindrical.

13. An outdoor and garden structure for displaying an ornamental item comprising: a pair of vertically disposed and laterally spaced uprights; a plurality of cross members extending laterally between the uprights and secured thereto; wherein the uprights and the cross members together define at least one opening and the ornamental item is displayed within the opening.

14. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 13, wherein the ornamental item is suspended from an anchor attached to one of the cross members.

15. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 13, wherein the ornamental item is supported on a shelf attached to one of the cross members.

16. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 13, wherein an upper end of each of the uprights and the opposed ends of each of the cross members is chamfered to form a truncated cone.

17. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 13, further comprising a cap member adjacent an upper end of the uprights and extending laterally between the uprights.

18. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 17, wherein the cap member comprises a pair of transversely spaced headers and a plurality of lattices extending transversely between the headers.

19. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 18, wherein each of the headers and each of the lattices is relatively planar and has an arch formed at each end.

20. An outdoor and garden structure according to claim 18, wherein each of the headers is arcuate and each of the lattices is substantially cylindrical.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/745,366 filed Apr. 21, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to structures for displaying ornamental items, and more particularly, to an outdoor and garden structure for displaying ornamental items, such as lanterns, birdhouses, bird feeders, chimes, bells, sun-catchers, potted flowers, plants, planters, statutes and the like.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

People have long desired to express themselves by placing structures and ornamental items in outdoor living spaces and gardens. Familiar examples of outdoor and garden structures include pergolas, gazebos, trellises and arbors. These structures are typically decorative alone, but are often also used to display flowers and climbing vines for additional aesthetics. However, they are not well suited for displaying ornamental items such as lanterns, birdhouses, bird feeders, chimes, bells, sun-catchers, potted flowers, plants, planters, statutes and the like. A common outdoor and garden structure for displaying ornamental items is the well known Shepard's Hook. A Shepard's Hook is an elongate pole made of a substantially rigid material, such as forged iron coated with a weather-resistant finish. One end of the pole is provided with a stake for securing the Shepard's Hook into the ground in a yard or garden. The pole includes one or more hooks along its length, and particularly at the free end opposite the stake, for hanging an ornamental item. A Shepard's Hook is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and requires little or no maintenance. However, Shepard's Hooks are not particularly sturdy, and thus, cannot support relatively heavy ornamental items. In addition, the structural design of a Shepard's Hook is quite simple. Therefore, there is very little variety of designs of Shepard's Hooks from which consumers may choose. As a result, consumers tend to express themselves through the selection, and to a lesser extent, the arrangement of the ornamental items displayed on the Shepard's Hook.

Besides the well known Shepard's Hook, there are almost no other outdoor and garden structures readily available for displaying ornamental items. In view of the notable disadvantages associated with a Shepard's Hook, and the lack of available alternatives, there is clearly a need for an outdoor and garden structure that permits a person to express themselves with a decorative structure for displaying ornamental items. There is a further need for such an outdoor and garden structure that is sturdy enough to support relatively heavy ornamental items. There is a yet a further need for such an outdoor and garden structure that provides consumers with a variety of designs from which to choose.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To achieve the foregoing and other objects, and in accordance with the purposes of the invention as broadly described herein, the present invention provides an outdoor and garden structure for displaying ornamental items. The outdoor and garden structure permits people to express themselves with a decorative structure for displaying ornamental items, such as lanterns, birdhouses, bird feeders, chimes, bells, sun-catchers, potted flowers, plants, planters, statutes and the like. An outdoor and garden structure according to the present invention is sturdy enough to support relatively heavy ornamental items. Furthermore, the various embodiments shown and described herein provide a variety of designs of outdoor and garden structures for displaying ornamental items from which consumers may choose.

In one aspect, the present invention is embodied by an outdoor and garden structure for displaying ornamental items including a pair of laterally spaced uprights secured to the ground in a vertical orientation, and a plurality of cross members disposed laterally between the uprights. At least one of the cross members is provided with means for displaying an ornamental item between the cross member and an adjacent cross member. In one embodiment, the means for displaying an ornamental item is an anchor attached to and depending downwardly from the cross member. Preferably, the anchor is selected from the group consisting of a hook and an eyelet, and the ornamental item is displayed thereon by suspending the ornamental item from the cross member. In another embodiment, the means for displaying an ornamental item is a shelf attached to and positioned on an upper surface of the cross member, and the ornamental item is displayed thereon by supporting the ornamental item on the cross member.

In another aspect, the present invention is embodied by an outdoor and garden structure for displaying an ornamental item including a pair of vertically disposed and laterally spaced uprights. The outdoor and garden structure further includes a plurality of cross members extending laterally between the uprights and secured thereto. In one embodiment, each of the uprights is an elongate, substantially rectangular post having a generally square cross-section, and each of the cross members is an elongate, substantially rectangular post having a generally square cross-section equal in area to the cross-section of the uprights. In another embodiment, each of the uprights is an elongate, substantially cylindrical pole having a generally circular cross-section, and each of the cross members is an elongate, substantially cylindrical pole having a generally circular cross-section equal in area to the cross-section of the uprights. Preferably, an upper end of each of the uprights and the opposed ends of each of the cross members are chamfered to form a truncated cone.

In another aspect, the present invention is embodied by an outdoor and garden structure for displaying an ornamental item including a pair of vertically disposed and laterally spaced uprights. The outdoor and garden structure further includes a plurality of cross members extending laterally between the uprights and secured thereto. Together, the uprights and the cross members define at least one opening, and the ornamental item is displayed within the opening. In one embodiment, the ornamental item is suspended from an anchor attached to one of the cross members. In another embodiment, the ornamental item is supported on a shelf attached to one of the cross members.

In another aspect, the present invention is embodied by an outdoor and garden structure for displaying an ornamental item including a pair of vertically disposed and laterally spaced uprights. The outdoor and garden structure further includes a plurality of cross members extending laterally between the uprights and secured thereto. The outdoor and garden structure further includes a cap member adjacent an upper end of the uprights and extending laterally between the uprights. In one embodiment, the cap member includes a pair of transversely spaced headers and a plurality of lattices extending transversely between the headers. In another embodiment, each of the headers and each of the lattices is relatively planar and has an arch formed at each end. In another embodiment, each of the headers is arcuate and each of the lattices is substantially cylindrical.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention are better understood with reference to the following detailed description of the invention and the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 1 including an optional shelf attached to a cross member and showing ornamental items displayed on the structure.

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 1 including the optional shelf.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure according to the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 4 including an optional shelf attached to a cross member and showing ornamental items displayed on the structure.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 4 including the optional shelf.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a side elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 7.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure according to the invention.

FIG. 11 is a front elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a side elevation view of the outdoor and garden structure of FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings in which exemplary embodiments of the invention are shown. However, the invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. The exemplary embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will both fully and completely convey the scope of the invention, and thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make, use and practice the invention without undue experimentation. Like reference numbers refer to like elements throughout the various drawings.

A first embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure 20 according to the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1-3. The outdoor and garden structure 20 is useful for displaying ornamental items in an outdoor environment, such as a yard, patio, pathway, garden and the like, and is commercially referred to as a “garden tower.” The garden tower 20 is similar in function to the well-known Shepard's Hook. Like the Shepard's Hook, the garden tower 20 permits a person to express themselves in their outdoor environment with a decorative structure for displaying ornamental items, such as lanterns, birdhouses, bird feeders, chimes, bells, sun-catchers, potted flowers, plants, planters, statutes and the like. However, the garden tower 20 is sturdier than the Shepard's Hook, as will be described. As a result, the garden tower 20 is capable of supporting multiple ornamental items as well as relatively heavy ornamental items. In addition, the garden tower 20 can take an unlimited number of forms, and therefore, provides consumers with a variety of designs from which to choose. Furthermore, a garden tower 20 may be merely aesthetic or symbolic, or may be utilized to commemorate a landmark or memorialize a person or event.

The outdoor and garden structure 20 comprises a pair of laterally spaced uprights and a plurality of cross members disposed between the uprights and secured thereto. As shown, the outdoor and garden structure 20 comprises a first, or left-hand, upright 21 and a second, or right-hand, upright 22, spaced apart by laterally extending cross-members 23, 24, 25. Uprights 21, 22 may be the same or different. For purposes of illustration, the uprights are identical to one another in each of the exemplary embodiments shown and described herein. Likewise, the cross members in the various embodiments are identical to one another. In the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 1-3, each upright 21, 22 is an elongate, substantially rectangular post having a generally square cross-section. However, the width may be larger or smaller than the depth of the upright 21, 22. Typically, the vertical height of the uprights 21, 22 is between about 6 feet (approximately 2 meters) and about 8 feet (approximately 2.5 meters) and the cross-section is about 4 inches by 4 inches (approximately 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters), depending on the particular application and the size and weight of the ornamental items. The uprights 21, 22 may be laterally spaced by any convenient distance, but typically are spaced between about 2 feet (approximately 0.6 meters) and about 4 feet (approximately 1.2 meters). The specific spacing of the uprights 21, 22 is determined by the lateral length of the cross members 23, 24, 25. Typically, each of the cross members 23, 24, 25 is an elongate, substantially rectangular post having a generally square cross-section equal in area to the cross-section of the uprights 21, 22. However, the outdoor and garden structure 20 of the present invention is not intended to be limited in any manner by the particular dimensions of the uprights 21, 22 and/or the cross members 23, 24, 25. The uprights and the cross members may be made of any rigid structural material, such as wood, metal, plastic or composite, but preferably are made of a natural wood, such as oak, pine or cypress. In a preferred embodiment, the outdoor and garden structure 20 is made substantially of natural cedar and is particularly well suited for use in a rustic environment. In another preferred embodiment, the outdoor and garden structure 20 is made substantially of natural driftwood and is particularly well suited for use in a nautical environment. The use of wood or wood composite may provide a relatively lightweight and cost effective option, while the use of tubular or solid metal, such as iron, brass or copper, and high quality fasteners may provide a more customized and costlier option. Regardless, the option of utilizing different materials and combinations of materials allows for a wider range of appearances and a greater variety of design choices for the consumer, as compared to a conventional Shepard's Hook.

The uprights 21, 22 and the cross members 23, 24, 25 are arranged and secured together so as to define a first, or lower, opening 26 and a second, or upper, opening 27. The openings may be used for displaying one or more ornamental items within the outdoor and garden structure 20. As illustrated in FIG. 2, a first ornamental item, such as a lantern 70, may be displayed within upper opening 27 and a second ornamental item, such as a potted flower 80, may be displayed within lower opening 26. The outdoor and garden structure 20 may be provided with one or more anchors 28, such as a hook or eyelet, attached to and depending downwardly from one of the cross members 23, 24, 25 between the uprights 21, 22 for suspending (e.g. hanging) ornamental items within the openings 26, 27. In addition, the outdoor and garden structure 20 may be provided with an optional shelf 29 attached to and positioned on the upper surface of one of the cross members 23, 24, 25 between the uprights 21, 22 for supporting ornamental items within the openings 26, 27. As best shown in FIG. 3, the shelf 29 extends outwardly from the cross member 23 sufficiently so as to provide a larger surface area for supporting a plurality of ornamental items or one or more relatively heavy ornamental items. The shelf 29 may extend outwardly in one direction, or may extend the same or a different amount in both directions. The shelf 29 may be made of any substantially rigid material, and preferably is made of the same structural material as the uprights 21, 22 and the cross members 23, 24, 25. Furthermore, the shelf 29 may be attached to the cross member in any suitable manner, for example with glue or mechanical fasteners. As shown herein, the outdoor and garden structure 20 displays a lantern 70 suspended from an anchor 28 within the upper opening 27 and a potted flower 80 supported on a shelf 29 positioned on cross member 23 within the lower opening 26. However, the outdoor and garden structure 20 of the present invention is not intended to be limited in any manner by the particular ornamental items displayed thereon or the means (i.e. anchor 28, shelf 29) for displaying the ornamental items. Instead, the examples shown and described herein are provided merely for purposes of illustration. Regardless, the option of utilizing anchors 28 for suspending ornamental items and a shelf 29 for supporting ornamental items allows for a wider range of appearances and a greater variety of design choices for the consumer, as compared to a conventional Shepard's Hook.

A second embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure 30 according to the present invention is shown in FIGS. 4-6. The outdoor and garden structure 30 is likewise useful for displaying ornamental items in an outdoor environment, such as a yard, patio, pathway, garden and the like, and is commercially referred to as a “garden tower.” The garden tower 30 permits a person to express themselves in their outdoor environment with a decorative structure for displaying ornamental items, such as lanterns, birdhouses, bird feeders, chimes, bells, sun-catchers, potted flowers, plants, planters, statutes and the like. The garden tower 30 is identical in many structural and functional respects to the garden tower 20. Accordingly, only the significant differences between the garden tower 30 and the garden tower 20 will be described further. In particular, the uprights 31, 32 of the outdoor and garden structure 30 are elongate, substantially cylindrical posts having a generally circular cross-section. Similarly, each of the cross members 33, 34 is a substantially cylindrical post having a generally circular cross-section. For ease of construction and aesthetic purposes, the upper end of each upright 31, 32 and both ends of each cross member 33, 34 may be chamfered or formed in the shape of a truncated cone 38. Furthermore, the uppermost cross member 25 is removed and replaced by a cap member 35 that is placed over and extends laterally outwardly beyond the uprights 31, 32. As a result, the outdoor and garden structure 30 has a more rustic appearance that is reminiscent of a log cabin, especially when made of a natural wood material, such as white pine. The openings 36, 37 are provided to display ornamental items in the same manner. As shown in FIG. 5, the outdoor and garden structure 30 displays a birdhouse 75 suspended from an anchor 28 within the lower opening 36 and a plant dish or planter 85 supported on a shelf 39 positioned on cross member 34 within the upper opening 37. Shelf 39 functions identically to shelf 28 previously described, but is shaped somewhat differently in order to accommodate the contour of cross member 34. In particular, shelf 39 does not extend the full lateral length of the cross member 34 and may be formed with a curved outer profile on the underside to match the curved outer profiles of the uprights 31, 32 and the cross members 33, 34.

A third embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure 40 according to the present invention is shown in FIGS. 7-9. The outdoor and garden structure 40 is likewise useful for displaying ornamental items in an outdoor environment, such as a yard, patio, pathway, garden and the like, and is commercially referred to as a “garden tower.” The garden tower 40 permits a person to express themselves in their outdoor environment with a decorative structure for displaying ornamental items, such as lanterns, birdhouses, bird feeders, chimes, bells, sun-catchers, potted flowers, plants, planters, statutes and the like. The garden tower 40 is identical in many structural and functional respects to the garden tower 20. Accordingly, only the significant differences between the garden tower 40 and the garden tower 20 will be described further. In particular, the uppermost cross member 25 is removed and replaced by a cap member 45 that extends laterally outwardly beyond the uprights 41, 42. The cap member 45 comprises a pair of laterally extending headers 48 attached on opposites outer sides of the uprights 41, 42, and a plurality of rafters, or lattices, 49 mounted transversely on the headers. The headers 48 and each of the lattices 49 may be sculpted and/or contoured as desired. For example, the headers 48 and the lattices 49 may be relatively thin and flat (i.e. planar) with an arch formed at each end. As a result, the outdoor and garden structure 40 has an aesthetically pleasing appearance that is reminiscent of a pergola or garden trellis, especially when made of a natural wood material, such as cedar. The cap member 45 may be merely decorative, or may be utilized to support climbing flowers or vines in a known manner. The openings 46, 47 are provided to display ornamental items in the same manner as previously described. One or more anchors (not shown) and/or a shelf (not shown) may also be provided to suspend and support, respectively, ornamental items in the manner previously described.

A fourth embodiment of an outdoor and garden structure 50 according to the present invention is shown in FIGS. 10-12. The outdoor and garden structure 50 is likewise useful for displaying ornamental items in an outdoor environment, such as a yard, patio, pathway, garden and the like, and is commercially referred to as a “garden tower.” The garden tower 50 permits a person to express themselves in their outdoor environment with a decorative structure for displaying ornamental items, such as lanterns, birdhouses, bird feeders, chimes, bells, sun-catchers, potted flowers, plants, planters, statutes and the like. The garden tower 50 is identical in many structural and functional respects to the garden tower 20. Accordingly, only the significant differences between the garden tower 50 and the garden tower 20 will be described further. In particular, a cap member 60 is placed over the uppermost cross member 55 and extends laterally beyond the uprights 51, 52. In addition, a pair of transversely spaced and laterally extending headers 58 are mounted on the upper surface of the cap member 60, and a plurality of rafters, or lattices, 59 mounted transversely between the headers. The headers 58 and each of the lattices 59 may be sculpted and/or contoured as desired. For example, the headers 58 may be arcuate and the lattices 59 cylindrical. As a result, the outdoor and garden structure 50 has an aesthetically pleasing appearance that is reminiscent of a gazebo or arbor, especially when made of a natural wood material, such as oak. The cap member 60, headers 58, and lattices 59 may be merely decorative, or may be utilized to support climbing flowers or vines in a known manner. The openings 56, 57 are provided to display ornamental items in the same manner as previously described. One or more anchors (not shown) and/or a shelf (not shown) may also be provided to suspend and support, respectively, ornamental items in the manner previously described.

An outdoor and garden structure according to the present invention is utilized by securing the uprights into the ground in an outdoor location, for example in a yard or garden. Typically, up to about 2 feet (approximately 0.6 meters) of the length of the uprights is disposed beneath the ground. For additional security, the uprights may be disposed in oversized holes and the remainder of the holes filled with concrete. Alternatively, the outdoor and garden structure may be placed on a man-made foundation, such as a driveway, walkway, patio, porch, deck or the like made of concrete, brick, stone or wood and secured using mechanical fasteners, anchors, guide wires or the like. Once the outdoor and garden structure is positioned and secured in the desired location, one or more anchors (e.g. hooks or eyelets) are attached to the cross members to suspend (i.e. hang) ornamental items within the openings defined by the uprights and the cross members. Alternatively or in addition, anchors may also be attached to the uprights themselves, or to a cap member, if provided. A shelf may also be attached to the upper surface of one of the cross members to support ornamental items within the openings. Importantly, a person may express themselves by selecting any outdoor and garden structure in combination with any ornamental item to produce a unique design. Furthermore, a person may arrange any number of ornamental items in any manner or combination to produce the desired aesthetically pleasing appearance. Accordingly, an outdoor and garden structure according to the present invention provides the consumer with a variety of design choices.

The foregoing description of various embodiments of the invention is given here by way of example only. Although outdoor and garden structures for displaying ornamental items according to the present invention have been described with reference to preferred embodiments and examples thereof, other embodiments and examples may perform similar functions and/or achieve similar results. All such equivalent embodiments and examples are within the spirit and scope of the present invention and are intended to be covered by the appended claims.