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2002 and Beyond

"Innovate: v. To make changes or alterations in anything established; bring new ideas, methods, etc."

Whew! I just made it to the top of the mountain of mail that LASN has received for this Innovative Products article. I can see a lot of Southern California from up here, well, once this layer of smog clears. The U.S. Postal Service brought in so many heavy boxes full of mail that there were a few more temblors here in "earthquake country" when they dropped the boxes off at our door.

Well, up here on the top of the mountain are some of the most innovative products that you will want to keep an eye on. We've got just about everything from gazebos and play structures to garden art and planters. Here's a peek at what's out there:

Parks & Recreation

Our biggest response came from this category. There's a lot of competition out there when it comes to play structures and other assorted parks and recreation items, and it shows in how creative some of them are becoming.

#1. In the gazebos category, Sam's Gazebos of Carson, Calif. has produced the Octagonal Post Anchor Template. These patent pending devices set eight post anchors at the correct position and angle, designed to save time and on-site work. It seems simple enough to use-first fasten the eight post anchors and set the template. Then pour cement just for the post anchors and finish the entire cement pad.

#2. Leisure Woods, Inc. of Genoa, Ill. has two lines of gazebos. The Cedar Cove offers an enclosed roof interior finished with 3/4" cedar tongue and groove as a standard option. Other options include the removable, aluminum framed screens; a window/screen combo; and floor and bench packages.

Lake Wood is designed for the residential and commercial environment. It offers a roof interior finished with clear 1" cedar, tongue and groove as a standard option. A new roof option-The STEEL ROOF-provides exciting color choices for the cedar gazebo.

#3. If you are looking to specify some railing for a project, Toms River, N.J.-based AVCON manufactures maintenance free thermoplastic railing systems. They are designed to meet all building codes and withstand years of harsh weather conditions including salt water, UV rays and extremely abusive, high traffic areas.

These railings were recently installed at the Family Circle Tennis Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. The Company provided over 4,600 linear feet of Black Hand railings, stair railings, as well as railing systems in various styles for this stadium project.

#4. For play structures there are a few that we'd like to show you. Kompan, Inc. of Johnson City, N.Y. has come up with a play structure that they hope will capture the attention of 6-12-year-olds who are consumed with computer games, skateboards, roller skates and the latest music. They developed the Galaxy that will provide a challenging, imaginative and safe play area.

The interesting thing about this structure is that it appears random. But once kids play on it they will find that it is simple. Activities can be connected to one another based on a few given rules-the result is a Constellation. The system allows Constellations to grow to any size and direction thus meeting the specific needs of almost any setting. Each Constellation has a unique collection of activities and because of this, each differs in size, shape and play experience.

#5. Empex Watertoys, located in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada has created a fun water-based play system that comes in several different designs. Basically inside a wading pool is a post with three bars protruding from it at various heights. Attached to each bar are two water collection buckets that get full, tip over and dump water on those below. Each bucket is a different design depending on which system is installed. There is the Splashin' Rainforest, which has birds, monkeys, and butterflies as the bucket designs. The Tippin' Toucans are of course, toucans. Other designs include the Butterfly Splash and the Splashin' Treefrogs.

#6. At this year's National Recreation and Park Association Exposition, GameTime, of Fort Payne, AL introduced their newest product offering, the RockSlide.

The spiral slide and hood have a rocky texture that can resemble an avalanche, mossy rock, mountain waterfall and any other natural environment.

Also from GameTime is the Sky Bridge. It attaches to the TreeScape system and can be up to 24-feet-long and eight feet above ground. The metal mesh barriers used to increase the safety of the play bridge give children the feeling of being in a wide-open space in the sky. Under-bridge activities such as trapeze rings and horizontal loop ladders add enormous play value to the area below the bridge.

#7. Waterplay® developed a custom spray park in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada where they designed a dinosaur theme. The idea gained isntant popularity as Drumheller is home to the world's largest dinosaur. It is 80 feet tall and looks over the spray park.

"I guess I liked the idea of a spray park in the beginning, but I wasn't totally sold on it until I saw it in use," said Larry Duxbury, chief engineer of the dinosaur spray park.

Both stegosaurus and triceratops bodies were cut out of metal, and airbrushed into existence. The metal bodies were applied to "Water-O's" in the spray park. The Water-O system seems to come from the dinosaurs themselves. A gigantic pterodactyl was constructed to perch atop a "Spiller Piller." The bird appears to be caught in mid swoop as it flies above the falls of the Piller.

Skateboarding is not a crime, but you may want it to be when you see the damage that can be done when kids try some of the latest moves on your pet project.

#8. Well, to keep skateboarding legal and your projects safe, Intellicept, a manufacturer of skate deterrents has added the Architectural Series to its Skatestoppers line of products. ASFL90 is the first in the series that combines affordable, quality art with the functionality of a skate deterrent. These patent pending parts are fastened with adhesive and Intellicept's SMART PIN™ technology.

Site Amenities

With development taking more and more land from wildlife, it is important that we learn to co-habitate with our animal friends. Animals are finding human trash and food an easy meal ticket. Especially bears.

"The biggest problem with bears is people and their garbage, period," said Jeff Finn, a wildlife biologist for Fish and Game. "People can influence the future of bears. They can make bums out of them and essentially sign their death certificates."

#9. The City of Aspen, Colo. instituted an animal-proof ordinance designed to restrict bears from having access to human food and trash. Brian Flynn, the Environmental Ranger and Construction Liaison with the City of Aspen was given the task of finding a solution. He consulted with Linda Surry the Product Manager at McClintock Metal in Woodland, Calif. McClintock Metal produces the SECURRR and Haul-All animal-proof containers found in most State and National parks around the country.

The Haul-All container is fabricated using 10 and 12 gage steel, an animal-proof latch and is faced with cedar slats.

#10. Can a bear get over a fence? In most cases. But, if a bear is going to climb your fence it should be a nice looking fence right? Designer Concrete Fences of Studio City, Calif. has come up with Cedarcrete. The precast concrete units feature a deeply embossed woodgrain texture with a familiar "board on board" pattern on both sides. With a deep tongue and groove interlock between the vertical panels, complete privacy is assured.

The fence is constructed by placing "H" shaped concrete posts in the ground, six foot on center. A precast concrete foundation is set and leveled between the posts into which individual concrete panel "boards" are placed. Once the posts and panels are fixed in place, a concrete panel cap with a deep groove is secured over the top of the concrete panels between the posts, to complete the installation.

#11. From Payne Metal Works, Inc. you can get true welded, ornamental iron fence panels, gates and accessories in both stock and custom configurations. They are easy to install and made of galvanized steel tubing with a powder-coated finish for durability.

#12. Kroy Building Products, Inc. of York, Neb. makes vinyl fencing. Their Classic Manor™ collection utilize routed rails so there are no visible fasteners to detract from the beauty, and allow the inside of each fence to be a "mirror image" of the outside.

Molded classic post caps, grooved panels, curved and formed rails, and a choice of octagon or traditional square spindles give the appearance of millwork without the maintenance of wood.

#13. What goes great with a nice fence? Garden ornaments! Urs Oeggerli Garden Ornaments of Dallas developed a line of zinc planters. They are hand made in Europe and distributed throughout the United States.

Each planter also has double walls so the entrapped air provides insulation for the encased plants, both in the searing heat of summer and the freezing temperatures of winter.

Zinc was discovered in the 13th century and industrially used in the late 18th century in England. It is a diverse and essential element located within the human body, as well as one that occurs naturally within the earth and is a necessary element in the growth of plants.

#14. For over 70 years, Florentine Crafstmen of Long Island City, N.Y. has been making terrace and garden furnishings. Their old world look still makes for great pieces today. The cast aluminum furniture is put together using a bolted method of construction or welded. The bolted furniture does cost less, and can easily be assembled using hand tools.

They can also customize items. For example, a 7 1/2' tall fountain with a 37" Boy & Frog were combined to make a custom fountain. The water spouts from the frog's mouth and splashes the boy's face and drops into a basin. The statue is lead, while the basin and pool are cast aluminum.

#15. How many times has the spray from a water feature made it a not so enjoyable amenity? Well, you'll need a fountain controller to combat the problem, and you can do that with the new Texas Electronics Fountain Controller. The Controller automatically turns fountains on/off based on current wind speeds. The user can easily program the desired wind speed shut off point.

Time delay prevents rapid on/off cycling when wind speed is fluctuating near the set point. A compact-sized anemometer responds quickly to wind speed changes and can be easily camouflaged so not to detract from the beauty of the landscape and water feature.

#16. The Bank Hoist™ from Marine Innovations, Inc. is a solution to elevated waterfront problems. It allows for enjoyment of a lake or river bluff home. It comes wirh a choice of carriage styles including walk on/walk off and side entry as well as an easy riding AC drive system for soft starts and stops.


#17. Vista Professional Lighting, headquartered in Simi Valley, Calif. has released a new series of 12-volt in-ground lighting fixtures constructed from advanced composite materials. The injection-molded, glass-reinforced polymer composites offer greater durability and longer life in all environmental conditions. They are corrosion-resistant and feature a 10-year warranty on the finish.

The new composites accept MR-16 halogen lamps (50 watt maximum) and are available in black, bronze, pewter and verde.

#18. The TulipanoD'oro or the FaroGiardino designed by San Diego-based FX Luminaire are precision milled from solid brass and copper to Ferrari® tolerances.

The TulipanoD'oro has a riser precisely angled to provide an oval shaped lighting pattern projecting only 2 feet behind the fixture while illuminating up to 16 feet in front, but never higher than knee level.

The FaroGiardino generates a warm symmetrical circular pool of light. This design is best suited in focal color planter beds to bring the nighttime garden to life. It comes standard with a 12-watt incandescent lamp and stands 57.15 cm (22 1/2") tall.

#19. W. J. Whatley, Inc., of Commerce City, Colo. a composite ornamental lamp post manufacturer now offers a new luminaire, model 4325, with a standard injection molded acrylic performance enhanced prismatic globe. The luminaire features a decorative aluminum band, cast aluminum ribs and fluted fitter with ornamental "sunflower" stylized elements. Shown with an optional spun aluminum top, finial and Verde Gold finish. Wattage’s available from 35 to 150 in High Pressure Sodium and 50 to 250 in Mercury Vapor and Metal Halide lamp sources.

Site Surfacing

#20. The StreetHeat SR-60, by Integrated Paving Concepts is a portable true-infrared machine that has been designed specifically for the reheat imprinting process using StreetPrint templates.

This machine comes with fully automated controls. A single push of a button starts, controls and stops the entire heating process. The unique "see-saw" design allows for fast and easy mobility on the job. Because the pneumatic wheels never travel on the heated pavement, wheel marking does not occur.

A bank of high intensity infrared heaters moves back and forth automatically on a rail system softening an area of up to 9 feet by 6.5 feet in a period of 2 to 4 minutes. Overheating is avoided due to this intermittent style of heating that allows optimal heat soak time without causing the surface temperature to exceed 300 degrees F.

#21. Located in Madera, Calif., Bomanite Cororation has developed Con-Color, a coloration method for cementitious materials. Con-Color is a penetrating sealer that permanently colors interior and exterior concrete surfaces, limestone, terrazzo and more. By providing translucent, marbled hues and tones to both natural and colored concrete substrates, Con-Color provides expanded color options to traditional chemical stain methods.

Unlike chemical stains that react chemically, this product works by penetrating the concrete surfaces-not reacting to it. This translucent penetration still allows the character of the concrete to come through with the natural mottling that is expected in concrete, but the end result provides a more predictable, vivid color.

Available in 50 standard colors, it is typically applied to a gray concrete base.

#22. Tegula®-Tec, by SF Concrete Technology, Inc. in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada is the first tumbled paving stone system with horizontal and vertical interlocking functions. It was first introduced in Europe two years ago and is now available in North America.

This paving stone system produces a classic, nostalgic appearance on the surface, but the protrusions and recesses on each stone provide an extreme interlock beneath the surface. This design prevents shifting under heavy loads on roads and parking areas.

These stones were laid in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada for the Wellington Street South project in the city and the reviews have been favorable from the city.

"The project consisted of transforming a section of the street for the installation of terraces on either side during the summer, while maintaining a one-way traffic flow. After analyzing various options, we chose a 10 cm-thick paved surface," said Clause Cinq-Mars, Sherbrooke City Engineer. "We are happy to announce that we fully achieved our objectives, particularly in maintaining and improving the load bearing capacity of the surface, as well as in creating corridors for various applications by adopting different colours."

#23. If you need edging restraints that work with asphalt, take a look at Permaloc's AsphaltEdge™ Restrain System. It is specifically designed to perform as an integral edge restraint system for asphalt. It allows for full and consistent material thickness right to the edge of the pavement. AsphaltEdge™ is designed to prevent broken edges and provide a finished, maintainable look along the edge of asphalt installations.

Erosion Control

#24. Hendrikus Schraven, owner of Soil Dynamics, has developed patent pending soil blends that he calls EssentialSoil™. The product is an organic based soil that mimics the texture and micro-biology of native topsoil overnight at depths of 12" to 36" and remains stable on 1:1 slopes or steeper.

Once installed, the organic components bond, forming a matrix within the soil. This matrix allows water to flow into and through the soil rather than across the surface.

#25. Profile Products LLC, located in Buffalo Grove, Ill. has new patented technology for the erosion control industry called Conwed® 3000 M-BFM™. This technology requires no cure time to be effective and combines both mechanical and chemical bonds. Anchored to the soil with water-resistant tackifier, the matrix of bonded interlocking fibers stretch while absorbing the impact energy of the raindrops, then rebound to their original state.

The Soil Erosion Research Laboratory at San Diego State University subjected the technology to three consecutive 10-year rain events and three consecutive 50-year rain events. The results show reduced erosion and sediment delivery nearly 100 percent for both the 10-year and 50-year storm events, with C factors of .0004 and .0001 respectively.

"To achieve nearly 100 percent control of erosion, three straight times with the same treatment under these heavy rainfall conditions indicates the product should do very well under actual field conditions," said Mike Harding, director of the Soil Erosion Research Laboratory at San Diego State University. "Based on our trials, it's reasonable to conclude that this particular product can provide a very effective means of soil erosion control."

#26. Suitable for a variety of commercial and residential projects, Anchor Highland Stone™ by Anchor Retaining Wall Systems of Minnetonka, Minn. is a new three-piece concrete retaining wall system featuring a face texture that replicates natural stone. Gravity walls can be built up to four feet high and reinforced walls up to eight feet high. The Anchor rear-lip is built into the Anchor Highland Stone, for accurate and fast installation.

"Natural stone has always been a look that many people appreciate, but stone is costly and difficult to design and build with," said Lynn Barnhart of Anchor Wall Systems. "We've taken the affordability and easy to install performance characteristics popular with our traditional concrete wall products and transformed them into a new retaining wall system that provides a natural look."


#27. Irrometer Company, Inc. of Riverside, Calif. has introduced its Watermark Electronic Module II (WEM-II). The WEM-II is used to interface the Watermark Sensor to any standard 24 VAC controller/time clock to provide true "automatic" control based on the soil moisture status. The fully adjustable sensor has an 11-position dial with discrete set-points to maintain soil moisture from field capacity to near 120 centibars (dry) plus an "override/off" position for manual operation of the control system.

The WEM-II features an LED indicator for verification of the system operation, and for the fine tuning of the correct moisture setting based on observation of the irrigated area.

#28. Hunter Industries of San Marcos, Calif. has recently introduces the I-60 turf rotor, a new low precipitation sprinkler designed for use on parks and sports fields with low water pressure.

The I-60 offers 50 to 66 feet of coverage and operates at 40 to 60 psi without requiring a booster pump. It has a 3-inch pop-up height and is available as a full circle or adjustable arc model.

Plant Materials/Accessories

#29. Compacted soils prevent water, oxygen and nutrients from reaching root systems which results in declining tree health. Rootwell, located in Brighton, MI, has cylinders that maintain soil openings allowing important elements to be absorbed into the tree. Rootwell corrects the blocking effect caused by soils allowing your trees and shrubs to breathe and absorb naturally.

Before you backfill the hole, equally space the three Rootwell units upright in the hole touching the root ball. Place the Rootwells so the tops are level with the ground. Backfill the hole and you are done.

Installing Rootwell on existing trees or shrubs locate the Rootwell at the midway point between the trunk and the drip line. The hole deph should place the Rootwell top even with the soil surface. Place the Rootwell in the hole and loosely backfill without compacting, and water as needed.

#30. Hayward, Calif.-based Planter Technology, Inc. has developed a container irrigation system for large pots and planters. The system, based upon Planter Technology's vacuum-sensor moisture monitoring technology, relies on a modular reservoir construction and fits in any large container, whether round, square or rectangular. Called CWM by the company, the water-efficient system delivers water to the plants only as needed, and can be equipped with a drainage overflow adapter.

#31. Texel has combined two root stopping products (Spin Out® and Tex-R®) available to not only stop but manage the roots in the landscape from interfering with the hardscape. Texel has developed a unique blend of superior geotextiles and coated it with the root stopping power of Spin Out®, a copper hydroxide based product developed over 10 years ago to control roots.

When Spin Out® is used on the barrier, roots are pruned on contact and feeder roots are encouraged to develop in areas of no resistance. The coating is not volatile and will not move in soil or water.

Tex-R® Barrier, through the action of Spin Out® promotes the proliferation of feeder roots.

#32. Pacific Earth Resources has developed the Pacific Wildflower Mix sod that provides instant beauty and ever-changing color throughout the year. Infused with thousands of wildflower seeds, all you do is install, water and watch it grow.

#33. Platipus Earth Anchoring Systems of Parker, Colo. designs and manufactures a comprehensive range of drive, proofloaded earth anchoring systems. The range of anchors offer load capacities from 1-200kN and above. They can perform in a variety of applications such as, soil nailing, tunnel linings, erosion control, sheet pile retention, slope stabilization, guyed structures and tree supports.

Well, these are the products that made it to the top of the “Innovative Products” mountain this year. Better clear out space because I already see the innovative products for next year coming this way.

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June 27, 2019, 1:56 am PDT

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