One of the benefits resulting from the diminishing rainfall now being experienced Australia wide is the growing realisation by the community that there are alternatives to the vast areas of lawn traditionally found around suburban houses.
The new trend toward smaller property sizes has also caused people to look at more practical uses that could be made of the surrounds to their homes.
One of the fastest growth areas experienced over the past 5 years has been the increased usage of decorative pebbles. Landscapers and homeowners basically have two main sources for these pebbles and stones.
Natural coloured stones can be sourced throughout Australia, under licence, from old river and creek beds where their removal does not harm the ecosystem. These stones are quarried, then tumbled to give a smooth rounded edge which adds a touch of class wherever used. Local decorative pebbles are increasingly being used throughout the landscaping of new display homes to provide a low maintenance, low water requirement home environment. Attractive exterior inorganic mulches like pebbles suppress weeds and retain soil moisture when applied over already moist soil. They don't break down over time and with the wide range of colours available can look great providing a modern stylish garden appearance.
The alternative source of decorative pebbles is the growing range of colours and sizes available in the imported pebbles. Whilst the initial major source of these was from non enviro-friendly areas of beaches and rivers in India and Indonesia, the recent trend had been to the wide range of natural coloured pebbles which are manufactured particularly in China and Italy. The two types of pebbles sourced are either polished and waxed or are manufactured stone that is tumbled from quarried rock to the desired size.
Polished pebbles are sourced from huge mounds of pebbles produced as a by-product to sand mining operations. Stacks up to 4 metres high and covering areas as large as a football field provide the pebbles that are hand picked for the colour required (usually black). These pebbles are then taken to local villages where they are polished by tumbling, then waxed and bagged.
Imported decorative pebbles are increasingly being used in a wide variety of applications including interior and exterior landscaping, roofscaping and the latest trend in decorative concrete - "seeded exposed aggregate".
One of the many aspects drawing landscape architects and designers to this finish is the complete versatility in design and colour produced by the product. With over 100 different colour oxides available to select from for the concrete colour the wide range of over 40 different colours pebbles available provide a limitless colour combination to work with.
Apart from colour selections, designers can also incorporate exciting features in the project works. Polystyrene cut-outs which are set in the concrete when the initial pour is done can be subsequently removed and replaced with a contrasting feature concrete/pebble combination. Side borders can vary, from the many decorative pavers and bricks available, to hand laid pebble borders using any of the 100+ colours and sizes available.
A particularly popular range of pebbles are sourced from an Italian marble manufacturer who tumbles marble off-cuts to provide a colourful range of smooth edged marble pebbles. These environment friendly pebbles contain all the variations naturally found in marble providing an exceedingly decorative and appealing appearance.