Mounting Devices – Ground Mounts
In this article I am going to explore ground mount device options. Most of us are familiar with the standard plastic mounting spike that is included with landscape lighting fixtures. This spike is designed to hold the fixture vertical and keep the metal from touching the ground, hence avoiding corrosion and damage to the stem. Sometimes the traditional spike is not enough to provide a proper secure mount. Soil type and weather are several factors to look at in determining the correct ground mount. I have spoken to several contractors across the country to get their input on choosing the right ground mount for the job. Let me share several different ground mounting systems with you to help you make the best choice for the area in which you live.
Brass Ground Spikes - A solid brass spike can provide a hearty mount for areas with hard ground. Depending on the soil density, this spike can also be pounded into the ground with a dead-blow hammer. These brass spikes do very well in areas with freezing conditions and very wet locations, as well. Brass spikes will patina like brass fixtures. It has been said that a solid brass spike can assist as an additional ground, should there be any crossover voltage from a faulty transformer. Contractors in the Northeast primarily rely on solid brass spikes.
Post and Cap Mounts - Post and cap mounts are primarily used for line voltage applications. They usually consist of a plastic or metal cap with a ½ inch conduit thread and a ¾ inch angle cut ABS stem. Stabilizing bars are often included. These bars assemble like a grid with the stem in the center. This will assist in keeping the post and cap level. There are occasions where it will be necessary to mount an adjustable or path light in a turf area. When this is required, a good mount choice is the post and cap. This will keep the fixture out of the way of mower wheels and string trimmers. When preforming monument lighting, this style will work very well. It may be necessary to set them in concrete if the location is susceptible to vandalism. Some manufacturers offer these mounts in a telescopic style. Telescopic styles work very well in areas where plant material could grow over the fixture. Architects will specify this mounting system for the majority of commercial 12v applications.
Tri Spike Mounts - This is a relatively newer style of mounting system. It is normally constructed out of stainless steel or brass. There is a thick flat round thread with 3 long “nail like” spikes protruding from the bottom. Tri spike mounts are an excellent choice for any soil type. Loose soil is always a challenge for most mounting systems. The tri spike mount meets this challenge. One contractor I spoke with makes a concrete pour tube with a 1-foot piece of 4-inch low head drain pipe. Upon leveling the concrete, he inserts the tri spike mount. Enough clearance is left to slide the fixture lead wire through. This method is often used in commercial and high-end residential projects.
Underground Box Mounts - Underground box mounts are like direct bury transformers without the transformer inside. These mounting systems are generally used in commercial applications where conduit is required. This is a common specification if more than one fixture is needed in an enclosed area. The underground box mount is made from cast brass or glass filled composite material. The lid can be manufactured with multiple outlets that will accept fixture threads. A watertight gasket keeps the cable connections dry.
Using the correct tool for the job is a standard in the landscape lighting business. All the major manufacturers are equipped to help you with great ground mounting systems. In our next article we will take a good look at tree and wall mount devices. Until then … choose wisely!