Karen Tatlow

Posted: 14.02.2019

Paving Perfection!

The quest to create the perfect path & patio for the Show Garden – ‘The Habit of Living’, a garden in support of Diabetes UK – has even involved gem stones from Australia!


More attuned to wearing their gem stones, garden designers Karen Tatlow and Katherine Hathaway have gone to great lengths to get the cutting of the porcelain paving slabs, for their Show Garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival (9-12 May), just right.

Karen said, “Driven by the trend to view the garden as an extension to the house, an ‘outside room’, more and more clients are choosing to use porcelain in their gardens, especially as it can be used both indoors and out.”

Sleek, modern and contemporary, the porcelain paving is being donated by Ethan Mason and will feature EM Garda and EM Orta from their premium Italian MII Porcelain collection.

Katherine said, “Porcelain paving is resilient and non-porous - so easy to clean, making it low maintenance and stress free. Magical words to any garden owner! But it also notoriously hard to cut and we have a lot of curves in our design.”

And this is where Aquajet Profiles Ltd, of Coventry, came in … cutting each section of paving individually using a CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) water jet machine. Yes, cutting porcelain paving with water!

A computer converts the paving design, produced by Computer Aided Design (CAD), into numerical information which then controls the movement of the cutter. Water is fired out of jets under extreme pressure, up to 60,000 psi (car tyre pressure is usually around 30 psi), to cut to an incredible accuracy of within 0.25mm!

To act as a cutting agent the water is mixed with ground garnet. More familiar to her as a red gemstone, on a visit to see the paving being cut, Karen learned that large garnet deposits are mined in Western Australia and then ground to the texture of fine sand to act as an abrasive.

Karen said, “To be honest I would normally prefer to wear my garnets, but in this instance it was fascinating to see how they were used in a process that can cut almost any material.”

Katherine said, “Water jet cutting is a fantastic tool for cutting porcelain paving. Clients often want curves and using this technique delivers a great result on an expensive material. We wanted to demonstrate this quality of finish in a RHS Show Garden – where the standards mean it needs to be as close to perfection as possible.”

However, despite being cut to an accuracy of within 0.25mm, Karen and Katherine were not finished in their quest for perfection and their attention turned to the finish of the cut edges.

Katherine said, “We may have gone a bit over the top because normally no-one would get down on their hands and knees to scrutinise the edges of paving, but with RHS judges looking at our garden, we thought we wouldn’t take any chances.”

And so the design duo turned to Just Granite Ltd, a firm based in Penkridge, Staffordshire, who kindly offered to finish the paving by bevelling and polishing the edges.

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