June's patents pick 5 article

In the Garden

Messina Smith : Office of Innovation Development

Spring and summer means sun, flowers, and of course working around the yard and in the garden. But where would we be without all those helpful gadgets that make it easier, perhaps even fun? From lawn mowers to garden walls, there are so many tools and accessories green thumbs can indulge in for the love of their yards, but here’s five you might recognize.

Note: This article is part of an ongoing series detailing some of the Inventors Eye staff’s favorite patents. For each article, the writer selects their five favorite patents under a given theme. This list is from Visual Information Specialist Messina Smith.

U.S. Patent No. 73,807
Lawn Mower

Amariah Hills was the first American to patent a lawn mower in 1868, which was actually 38 years after the first lawn mower was invented by Edwin Budding. Hill’s patent was for a new and improved device for mowing grass by hand. In the decades since, the lawn mower has endured as one of the staples for homeownership, and these days there are more choices than ever. Riding mowers that allow the user to sit and drive, hover mowers that slide above the grass using an air cushion to lift it off the ground, and mower bots that use border wires to define the area to be mowed are just three examples of the choices we have today.

U.S. Patent No. 3,826,068
Rotary cutting assembly

In 1974 George C. Ballas patented the first version of the string trimmer, or weed whacker, after taking his car to be washed and noticing the revolving action of the cleaning. He went home and attached pieces of fishing line to a popcorn can and then bolted that to a lawn edger. Weeds haven’t stood a chance since. Gas-powered or electric, string trimmers and lawn care go hand in hand, and it’s a common sight to see one being used during the spring and summer months.

U.S. Patent No. 6,520,513
Garden Cart

Many inventions help gardeners transporting and holding heavy loads, and in 2001 Martha Presley-Mays added her innovation to the mix. The garden cart she dreamed up tried to add a level of comfort and organization to the task of gardening. Wheeled with a handle, the cart also sports a removable tool box, a padded seat, brackets for holding larger items like shovels, and even a sun umbrella. The cart also doubles as a wheelbarrow. Clearly Presley-Mays did her best to think of everything a gardener would need while in the yard.

U.S. Patent No. 8,689,485
Vertical planter and gardening wall

So, you live in an apartment? That’s where vertical planters come into play, and they are becoming ever more popular with more people living in urban settings. Maybe you have a small balcony or no outdoor space at all. No worries; this vertical planter, patented in 2014 by Jared Friedman, can be used indoors or outdoors. There are planter blocks and end blocks, and they interlock together to be as wide or as tall as the user wants. Each individual block can be filled with what the user wants to grow—flowers, vegetables, or herbs. Now there’s no reason to not have a beautiful garden filled with a plethora of colorful plants.

U.S. Design Patent No. D487,714

The plastic pink flamingo. Is there a more iconic yard ornament in America? In 2004, Isaac and Margaret Weiser took this much-loved (or loathed) novelty and made it functional. Their design calls for the body of the flamingo to be hollow, allowing it to be used as either a planter or a bird feeder. Add a bunch of flowers for ornamentation or bird seed to attract feathered brethren. Either way, the pink flamingo will no longer stand in solitary watch over yards.

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