Porcelain proving its worth but concrete "not dead", landscapers told

Whether porcelain paving is too good to be true, the challenges of handling large tree stock, and the importance of having an ethical supply chain were all up for discussion at the APL's Spring Seminar in Uxbridge.

CED porcelain paving. Image: CED Stone Group
CED porcelain paving. Image: CED Stone Group

More than 70 landscapers, contractors and suppliers attended the event, which took place at Tendercare, Uxbridge on 14 April.

A panel session - The Great British Stone Off – brought together leading paving suppliers to discuss developments in the sector. Led by APL chair Mark Gregory, the panellists were Paul Wagstaff and Richard Colton from Bradstone, Giles Heap from CED Stone Group, Chris Frankland from Marshalls and Steven Walley from London Stone.

The debate covered issues such as ethical trading, sourcing the greenest products and having full visibility of your whole supply chain.

Whether porcelain is "too good to be true" was also a topic of discussion, with questions around best adhesives to use and its longevity. The panel stressed that it has been around for 10 years or more on the continent and there are no issues as far as they are aware.

Natural stone took up the bulk of the discussion, but the panel stressed that does not mean concrete is dead. All agreed that there would always be a market for concrete in UK landscaping, and that there have been huge advancements in concrete technology over recent years.

Host and Tendercare managing director Andrew Halksworth looking at the challenges presented by the handling of large stock and the solutions available to assist. He emphasised the importance of planting big trees at soil level.

Developments in tree anchoring and irrigation were outlined by Charles Agg from Platipus. Having operated across the world, especially in the US, Germany and Far East, he spoke about the different options available including the use of air pots to ensure root balls develop a bigger fibrous structure.

A range of health and safety discussions also took place, with Joe Bray from Makita providing an overview of the company's work to develop green, low-vibration machinery using Lithium ion batteries. He also spoke about technology that cuts airborne dust, and work being done to limit the impact of vibration. Peter Taylor from Citation emphasised the need for businesses to be health and safety compliant.

Landscaping spaces was also discussed by company representatives - from Jacksons Fencing's new gravel board product that helps hedgehogs move between gardens, to Clearstone Paving's resin bound products and their use in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems.

David Mackay from NCC Streetscape spoke about the pros and cons of different jointing materials and the importance of jointing to the performance and longevity of paving.

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