Absolutely South West : Wimbledon July 2017

Page 63


Paving the way Introducing Patrick Martin of PM Landscapes as our new gardening columnist w o r d s pat r i c k m a r t i n


hat paving stone would you like to use?” This is the first question I ask all new clients and am often met with a blank look. This is totally understandable as many will not have paving stones at the forefront of their mind. Others, who are perhaps more aware, will know there is a bewildering amount of choice in natural stone products on the market. In the past, there were essentially two options. One was reclaimed York Stone so thick and heavy you virtually needed a fork lift truck to lift one slab - not to mention the price, which was akin to laying your back garden in solid gold. The other was pre-cast cement slabs in red and beige, arranged in a chequer board style and available from your local builder’s merchant. Even now we happen across these giant garden draft boards. Occasionally there is a tinge of regret as

Natural STONE LOOKS best laid in random STYLE.

we take up and remove the old paving, like you might experience sending an old 1970s Ford Cortina to the local scrap yard. All this changed in the mid 1980s with the arrival of imported Indian Sandstone. Affordable and available in a wide range of shades, colours and textures, the sandstone became widely popular and offered a whole new range of choice in natural stone products for paving and patios. Later, the sandstone was honed, cut and sandblasted to produce a much higher specification material in creams and beiges with a price tag to match. The honed sandstone had one weakness

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- due to it being a ‘soft’ porous stone, it absorbed mud and dirt quite easily. This sparked a whole new industry in specialist cleaners, sealers, enhancers and polishers, enthusiastically sold to you by your local stone merchant. But they all had one thing in common - they didn’t really work. Besides, who wants to spend every second weekend from March to September cleaning their paving and patios? Enter a new porcelain paving slab. These offer a real choice in light shades without the incessant cleaning and maintenance. Since the arrival of Indian Sandstone, other imported products have become increasingly popular such as silver and blue granite, blue and black limestone, and Chinese, Brazilian, green and rustic slate. These are all excellent products and are well suited to both traditional and contemporary garden settings. In our experience, natural stone looks best laid in random style. Take three or four varying sizes and lay them in a revolving pattern with no two stones of

the same size positioned next to each other. Stone merchants can often send samples of their products in the post, but it can be difficult to get an accurate impression from one piece of stone that is 5cm square. Our advise is to ask your landscaping company to bring a range of slabs at minimum 30cm x 30cm and lay them out on the ground in the garden. Very quickly you will get an impression of what works and what doesn’t. Alternatively, you can visit stone merchants and garden centres who have displays or paved areas on the ground. Here you can view all the different products as they would look in a patio setting. PM Landscapes offer free consultations and quotes for complete design and build garden projects including natural stone patios and will supply samples of natural stone to view. ◆


16/06/2017 14:53

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