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Title:
GARDEN POND SAFETY GRATE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2002/014629
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A safety grate (10) is provided for a garden pond by mounting a grate (10) below the anticipated surface of the water in the pond. This reduces the risk of drowning in the pond, predators catching fish in the pond and animals swimming or rolling in the pond, while preserving the aesthetics of the garden pond. The grate (10) may have larger openings in it for plants and fish or for access to equipment in the pond. The openings may be covered with an access hatch to allow brackets, a support stand and/or a shelf to support the grate (10) at the desired depth in the pond.

Inventors:
CUNNINGHAM CONSTANCE M (US)
ASHER IRA M (US)
ASHER ROBERTA S (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2001/025394
Publication Date:
February 21, 2002
Filing Date:
August 14, 2001
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CUNNINGHAM CONSTANCE M (US)
ASHER IRA M (US)
ASHER ROBERTA S (US)
International Classes:
E04H4/06; E04H4/08; (IPC1-7): E04H4/08
Foreign References:
GB2344515A2000-06-14
GB2345634A2000-07-19
US5740562A1998-04-21
GB2351659A2001-01-10
US5303527A1994-04-19
US3872522A1975-03-25
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Schwappach, Karl (2200 Wells Fargo Center 90 South Seventh Stree, Minneapolis MN, US)
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Claims:
I Claim:
1. A safety grate for use with a garden pond and wherein the pond has a shape and an anticipated water level, the grate comprising: a substantially flat grate having a shape substantially matching the shape of the pond a predetermined distance below the anticipated water level; and a support for supporting the grate in the garden pond at the predetermined distance below the anticipated water level.
2. The safety grate of claim 1, wherein the predetermined distance is 240 cm.
3. The safety grate of claim 2, wherein the predetermined distance is 1030 cm.
4. The safety grate of claim 3, wherein the predetermined distance is about 15 cm.
5. The safety grate of claim 1, wherein the support comprises at least one bracket for mounting the grate to the garden pond.
6. The safety grate of claim 1, wherein the support comprises a shelf formed around at least a portion of the periphery of the garden pond upon which the grate rests.
7. The safety grate of claim 1, wherein the support comprises a support stand, said stand having a bottom adopted to rest on the bottom of the pond, a top adopted to be fastened to said grate at a location spaced from the edges of the grate, and a support column extending between said top and bottom.
8. The safety grate of claim 7, wherein said support column may be altered in height.
9. The safety grate of claim 1, wherein the grate comprises a mesh having openings therethrough.
10. The safety grate of claim 9, wherein the grate further comprises edging substantially enclosing the edges of the mesh.
11. The safety grate of claim 9, further comprising an opening in addition to said mesh openings formed in the grate.
12. The safety grate of claim 11, further comprising edging substantially enclosing the edges of the mesh around the last mentioned opening.
13. The safety grate of claim 11, wherein said last mentioned opening is an access opening and an access door selectively closing the access opening.
14. The safety grate of claim 1, the grate further comprises a protective coating over substantially all of the grate.
15. The safety grate of claim 14, wherein the protective coating is selected from the group consisting of zinc, zinc alloys and plastics.
16. The safety grate of claim 2, wherein saidsupport comprises at least one bracket for mounting the grate to the garden pond adjacent to the perimeter of the pond; and wherein said support also comprises a support stand, said stand having a bottom adapted to rest on the bottom of the pond, a top adapted to be fastened to said grate at a location spaced from the edges of the grate, and a support column extending between said top and bottom; said grate comprising a mesh having openings therethrough and an edging substantially enclosing the edges of the mesh; an opening in said grate in addition to said mesh openings with an edging substantially enclosing the edges of the mesh around the opening; and said mesh is formed of a noncorrosive material.
17. The safety grate of claim 16, comprising a protective coating over substantially all of the grate and said protective coating is selected from the group consisting of zinc, zinc alloys and plastics.
18. The safety grate of claim 16, wherein said support column may be altered in height.
19. The safety grate of claim 11, where said last mentioned opening is an access opening, and an access door selectively closing the access opening.
20. A method of manufacturing a grate for a garden pond, the pond having a shape and an anticipated water level, the method comprising: determining the size and shape of the garden pond at a predetermined distance below the anticipated water level; providing a grating material, and cutting the grating material to substantially match the size and shape of the garden pond at the predetermined distance below the anticipated water level; and providing a support for supporting the grating material in the garden pond at the predetermined distance below the anticipated water level.
21. The method of claim 20, further comprising providing a shelf to support the grating material around at least part ofthe perimeter of the garden pond at the predetermined distance below the anticipated water level.
22. The method of claim 20, further comprising attaching edging to the edges of the grating material.
23. The method of claim 20, further comprising cutting at least one opening in the grating material.
24. The method of claim 23, further comprising attaching edging to the edges of the grating material around the cut opening.
25. The method of claim 23, further comprising providing an access hatch for selectively closing the cut opening, and mounting the access hatch to the grating such that it can be moved or removed to allow access through the cut opening.
Description:
GARDEN POND SAFETY GRATE Background of the Invention Field of the Invention [0001] The present invention relates to garden ponds and protective grates for them.

Description of the Related Art [0002] For as long as people have been gardening, landscapers have taken advantage of existing pools or ponds of water, or created new ponds of water, for both decorative and functional purposes in gardening. Such ponds typically are not intended for use for swimming or wading, but are installed for their visual appeal and/or as a holding pond for run-off.

[0003] Unlined garden ponds have the disadvantage that they often leak water into the surrounding ground, requiring constant replacement of the water. It therefore has become common to either line the pond with a water impermeable liner (usually thick, flexible plastic), or to make the pond using a prefabricated insert (usually rigid plastic or metal).

Both lined ponds and ponds made with an insert often have irregular shapes, e. g., to enable them to mimic natural ponds.

[0004] Such garden pools or ponds are typically 20-100 cm deep, so they sometimes are deep enough for a small child to drown in. The solution to this problem typically used with swimming pools is to install a tall fence around the pool, but this would entirely defeat the aesthetic purpose of having the garden pond in the first place. Therefore, a garden owner to date simply had to accept the risk of having an open body of water, if they wanted a garden pond.

[0005] In addition, garden ponds often are stocked with expensive decorative fish, such as Japanese koi. Unfortunately, raccoons, herons and other predators find koi in the shallow ponds to be quite attractive prey. Plants provide only limited protection for the fish. Many people do not object to the presence of the predators and do not wish to harm them, but the fish they are preying on can be quite expensive, so some way to better limit predation would be desirable.

[0006] Finally, many dog owners will testify to problems with dogs swimming or rolling around in garden ponds. This often completely disrupts the plants and ecosystem in the pond, in addition to often causing odor problems for the dogs.

Summary of the Invention [0007] These and other problems have been solved according to the present invention by providing a safety grate for the garden pond positioned slightly below the surface of the pond, so that it does not disturb the aesthetics of the pond, but prevents small children or dogs from falling into or swimming in the pond, and greatly restricts the possibilities for predation on any fish in the pond.

[0008] The grate preferably is formed of a rigid open mesh the perimeter of which is shaped to match the shape of the pond, so that water can flow through it, plants can grow through it and fish can swim through it. The grate is mounted slightly below the surface of the pond, e. g. 2-40 cm, and should be strong enough to support at least a moderate sized child, and preferably a large adult. In addition, one or more supports may be provided in spaced relation to the edges of the grate where the grate is of substantial area to insure that all locations on the grate have adequate support.

[0009] Preferably, the grate is removably mounted, so that it can be removed if work must be done to portions of the pond underneath the grate. This can be done conveniently by mounting the grate to the pond using suitable brackets and bolts, with additional support legs bolted in the middle if the pond has a large expanse. The legs may be provided with broad flat bases, or positioned on stones, to prevent them from poking through the pond liner.

[0010] If the pond has a recirculation pump for circulating water between the pond and a fountain or stream and/or a filter, it may also be desirable to have an access hatch or opening in the grate positioned above the pump and/or filter. This would allow access to the pump or filter without the need to remove the entire grate. Such access hatch may also be useful if the pond has fish in it which may be larger than the size of the openings in the grate.

[0011] The size of the openings in the grate will depend on the application. Smaller openings reduce the likelihood of a small foot or paw slipping through the grate, but very small openings make it difficult for plants or pond fish to grow or swim through the grate, so a balance is preferably struck for the particular application. If necessary, a tight mesh grating can be used, with occasional larger openings cut in the grate to allow plants to grow through the grate or large fish to swim through.

[0012] The grate and mounting structures preferably are coated with a protective coating to reduce the likelihood of corrosion and to cover any sharp edges. They may also be formed of a corrosion resistant material.

[0013] As will be apparent, the present invention provides a substantial reduction in the risk of accidental drowning, predation and animal swimming, while at the same time preserving the desired aesthetics of a garden pond.

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more clearly understood through a consideration of the following detailed description.

Brief Description of the Drawings [0014] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a grate according to the present invention positioned in a pond insert; [0015] FIG. 2 is a broken enlarged plan view of the grate of FIG. 1 ; [0016] FIG. 3 is a further broken, cross-sectioned elevation view through the edge of the grate, as viewed substantially along line 3-3 of FIG. 2; [0017] FIG. 4 is a broken cross-sectioned, side elevation view of the pond insert and grate, as viewed substantially along line 4-4 of FIG. 1, and showing fasteners and supports for the mounting of the grate in the pond insert; [0018] FIG. 5 is an exploded, perspective view of the grate support shown in FIG. 4; [0019] FIG. 6 is a broken, cross-sectioned, side elevation view, as viewed substantially along line 6-6 of FIG. 1, and showing a preferred embodiment of access hatch overlying a pond pump and/or filter; [0020] FIG. 7 is a plan view of the hatch substantially as viewed in FIG. 6 with a hatch cover; [0021] FIG. 8 is a broken cross-sectioned, side elevation view of the hatch as viewed substantially along line 8-8 of FIG. 7; [0022] FIG. 9 is a broken cross-sectioned, side elevation view through the hatch handle as viewed substantially along line 9-9 of FIG. 7; and [0023] FIG. 10 is a cross-sectioned, side elevation view similar to FIG. 4, but of a pond having a water impermeable flexible plastic liner and a preferred embodiment of grate in accordance with the principles of the present invention.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments [0024] In FIG. 1 a grate 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown positioned in a garden pond or pond insert 12. The pond insert 12 is typically pre- shaped in an irregular shape of a relatively rigid metal or plastic. The earth is excavated to receive the insert and is then back filled once the insert 12 has been positioned.

[0025] The grate 10 is shaped to substantially match the shape of the garden pond insert 12, and is positioned below the anticipated water level W/L of the pond as can be seen in FIGS. 1 and 4. Preferably, the grate is about 2-40 cm below the anticipated water level, more preferably, about 10-30 cm below the water level, and still more preferably about 15 cm below the water level W/L.

[0026] A portion of the grate 10 is shown in more detail in FIG. 2. The grate 10 as shown in FIG. 2, is preferably formed of a welded wire mesh 14 which can be cut and trimmed to match the shape of the garden pond insert 12. The gauge of the wire should be heavy enough to support the weight of a child and preferably an adult who may step or fall into the pond, and the size of the openings are preferably small enough to prevent the foot of a person or animal from falling through the openings but permit at least smaller fish to pass through if fish are to be present in the pond. By way of example it has been found that a wire gauge of about 12.5 and square openings of about 3.5 cm are generally satisfactory for these purposes.

[0027] An edging 16 preferably surrounds and encloses the edges of the wire mesh. As best seen in FIG. 3, edging 16 preferably is U-shaped in cross-section having an outer covering 17 of for example plastic, and an internal metal spring channel 18. The covering 17 also preferably has a barbed lip 19 running along one side of its inside surface to hold the irregular edges of the wire mesh 14, as best seen in FIG. 3.

[0028] A preferred embodiment of Z-shaped bracket 20 for mounting the grate 10 to the garden pond insert 12 is shown in FIG. 4. The bracket 20 has an upper generally horizontal leg 21 which extends outwardly with a bolt 22 extending downwardly from it. The bolt 22 is bolted through hole 23 in the garden pond insert 12, and held in place by lock washer 24 and nut 25. The bracket 20 also has a lower generally horizontal leg 26 which extends inwardly and has a pair of spaced bolts 27 and 28 which extend upwardly through wire mesh 14, and are held in place by a plate 29, and lock washers 30 and nuts 31. The upper horizontal leg 21 and lower horizontal leg 26 are preferably formed integrally with and bent from a connector leg 32 to support the grate 10 below the pond waterline W/L.

[0029] If the overall area of the pond is of substantial size and/or if it is desired to support a relatively heavy object on the grate 10 in spaced relation to the perimeter of the pond, it may be desirable to position one or more support stands, generally 34, in spaced relationship to the pond edge as best shown in FIGS. 1,4 and 5. The support stand 34 preferably comprises a pair of plates 36 which may be identical to each other. The plates 36 include a collar 38 extending from one side of the plate. The collar 38 is open in its center 40, as best seen in FIG. 5, to receive an extension piece 42 in the open center. Any one of several different length extension pieces, such as a longer piece 42 and shorter piece 44, may be provided to permit selective construction of the support stand 34 to have any one of a number of different custom lengths depending upon the depth of the pond and the depth to which the grate 10 is to be submerged below the waterline W/L. A coupling extension piece 46 is also preferably provided to couple adjacent extension pieces 42 and 44, as viewed in FIG. 5. Suitable holes 48 are provided in the collars 38 to align with comparable holes in extension pieces 42,44 and 46 to receive bolts 50 to couple the extension pieces and plates 36 together so as to form a strong stationary support for the grate 10 and/or any heavy objects which may fall into the pond or are to be supported in the pond, such as a decorative rock R as shown in FIGS. 1 and 4. Nuts 51 are also preferably threaded onto the bolts 50 to firmly and securely fasten all of the parts together.

[0030] A top plate 52 is also provided in overlying relationship to the grate 10. Plate 52 preferably has holes 54 in its corners which align with corresponding holes 54 in the plates 36, as best seen in FIG. 5. Bolts 56, lock washers 57 and nuts 58 mount plate 52 to the plate 36 immediately beneath the grate 10 to firmly sandwich the grate 10 in between, as seen in FIG. 4.

[0031] In order to assemble the support stand 34, appropriate length extension pieces 42, 44 and 46 are selected which will result in the proper and desired height of the support stand 34 to span the height between the bottom of the pond insert 12 and the grate 10, as seen in FIG. 4. One of the plates 36 is then positioned to rest on the bottom of the pond insert 12, as shown in FIG. 4, with its collar facing upwardly. Another plate 36 is arranged on top of the assembled extension pieces with its collar 38 facing downwardly. The extension pieces 42,44 and 46 are then bolted together, and to the collars 38 on the plates 36 with bolts 50 and nuts 51 to form a column, and the support stand 34 is then positioned as shown in FIG. 4. The support stand 34 assembly is completed by bolting a top plate 52 on top of the grate 10 with bolts 56 extending downwardly through the mesh openings in the grate, and the holes 54 in the corner of the top plates 36 and 52. This assembly results in a very strong and sturdy support which should minimize the possibility of collapse in the event a person, child or large predatory animal falls or steps onto the grate 10. The support stand 34 is also capable of supporting heavy decorative objects, such as a rather large rock R or heavy potted plant.

[0032] If desired, an access hatch 60 may also be provided in the grate 10 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 6-8 to permit ready access to a filter and/or pump P. This can be as simple. as forming a hinged portion from the grate 10, as shown in FIGS. 6-8, or can be made of some other material, such as sheet metal. In the alternative, the hatch 60 may be simply an open hole without a cover. Although the latter would permit access through the grate 10 for larger fish, it may not prevent the possibility of someone or something from stepping through the hole. In either case, at least edging 16 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 is preferably provided around the inside of the opening in the grate 10 to strengthen the grate 10 and protect against cuts.

[0033] Where the access hatch 60 is relatively large, and/or if it has a door 62, a more substantial frame is preferred to insure that the grate 10 maintains sufficient strength. In such instance both the edge of the opening in the grate 10 and the edge of the door mesh are preferably framed using an extruded metal stock 64 as seen in FIGS. 6-9 of a non-corrosive material, such as aluminum. Such extruded stock typically has channels running the length of its sides which are capable of receiving the mesh 14 of the grate 10 and/or door 60, as well as bolt assemblies 66 for attaching the channels using suitable retainer plates 68 to the mesh 14, hinges 70 for pivotly mounting the door 60 on the grate 10 and/or a door handle 72 on the door 60. The handle 72 is preferably used to support the door 62 in its closed position, as shown in FIGS. 6-9, and open and close the door as shown in FIG. 6.

[0034] A second embodiment of garden pond and grate arrangement is shown in FIG. 10.

[0035] In some instances, a preformed pond insert is not employed. In these instances, the pond is simply excavated to form a hole H in the ground G which is of generally the depth and shape that is desired. Once the hole H has been formed, a simple flexible sheet- like liner 74 is positioned so as to line the hole, as seen in FIG. 10, to prevent the water from seeping into the ground G. Once the pond has been lined, whatever plants or the like are desired are positioned in the pond, the pond is filled and fish, if any, are added to the pond.

[0036] The grate 10 of the present invention may also be employed in such simplified pond constructions which do not have a preformed rigid insert 12 as previously described with respect to FIG. 1. In these simpler installations, as the pond is being excavated, a narrow ledge 76 is formed about the perimeter of the pond at the depth at which it is desired to place the grate 10. The flexible liner 74 is then positioned in the excavation to cover the bottom, the side walls and the ledge 76, as well as the walls above the ledge as seen in FIG.

10. Once the liner 74 is positioned and whatever objects are to be placed into the pond have been positioned and located as desired, the grate 10 is then cut to fit the maximum perimeter of the ledge 76, and the grate 10 with its edging 16 is then simply positioned as shown in FIG. 10 to rest upon the ledge beneath the waterline W/L. If desired, the support stand 34 and hatch 60 as previously described, may also be employed in this embodiment.

[0037] Although the embodiment of FIG. 10 has been described in terms of a flexible liner 74 lining the walls of the hole H, it will be appreciated that the hole H may be lined with concrete or the like which is formed and set in place after the hole has been shaped.

In such case either the brackets 20 or the ledge 76 may be employed as desired to support the grate 10.

[0038] While the grate 10 has been shown as formed of welded wire mesh, it could be formed of any suitable equivalent, such as expanded metal grates, plastic grates, punched sheet metal or plastic sheeting or the like.

[0039] Similarly, any suitable mounting arrangement which will hold the grate in place and provide sufficient support for the grate can be used in place of the Z-shaped bracket 20.

[0040] Edging piece 16 may also be omitted if the edges of the wire mesh 12 or its equivalent either are not rough, such as a rolled edge on sheet metal, of if they are otherwise protected such as by the design of a shelf support in the garden pond insert.

[0041] Preferably, most of the elements of the grate 10 are coated to protect them from corrosion and/or to cover any rough edges. Any suitable coating may be used, e. g. zinc, zinc alloy or any suitable plastic, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The color of the grate 10, its mesh 14 and its supports is preferably dark, and more preferably black, so that when the grate 10 is submerged somewhat beneath the water line W/L as herein described, the grate 10 and its components are virtually invisible to an observer viewing the pond.

[0042] A grate 10 according to the present invention may conveniently be manufactured by starting with an outline of the perimeter of the garden pond into which the grate 10 will be installed, at the height the grate 10 will be installed. Wire mesh 14 then is cut to match the shape and size of this perimeter, normally with some tolerance allowed around the edge.

Edging 16 then is bent to match this shape and mounted on the edge of the wire mesh 14.

If desired, the opening 60 may be cut through the wire mesh 14 and more edge 16 material mounted around the opening. If desired, the access hatch 60 can be mounted to wire mesh 14 with suitable hinges, latches and/or bolts over the opening as previously described. If the garden pond insert 12 and the grate 10 are being designed at the same time, the garden pond insert can be provided with a shelf around all or part of its periphery to support the grate 10 at the desired depth in a manner similar to that described with respect to FIG. 10.

[0043] It will be understood that these exemplary embodiments in no way limit the scope of the invention. Other modifications of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art in view of the foregoing description. These descriptions are intended to provide specific presently preferred examples of elements, dimensions, materials or configurations contained therein. All alternative modifications and variations of the present invention which will fall within the spirit and scope of the appended claims are intended to be covered.