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Slate paving: a very British love affair!

Slate is still the nation's favourite natural stone paving

Wander through the grounds of  our historic houses and you can’t fail to notice how slate has been used by architects and garden designers over the centuries.  Slate paving slabs, slate walling, slate terraces and steps - this natural stone brings a rich colour palette to any landscape.  Today slate remains a top choice for garden paths and patios.

Where does slate paving come from?

British slate is still produced in Wales, Cornwall and the Lake District.  In these areas, you’ll see it used as walls, roofing, hedging, kerbing as well as for paths and garden paving slabs.   High quality slate patio slabs can be sourced from China, India, or Brazil (the world's second-biggest producer of slate).  But not all imported slate has the all-important CE mark which tells you the product is suitable for installation outdoors in Europe.  Some slates delaminate in our climate so it’s important to check your product has this.

Marshalls Paving produces two exceptional slate patio slabs, both with CE, their own Stone Mark Exceeded Assurance, and their Fairstone ethical assurance.  Marshalls Fairstone Slate Casarta  Garden Paving,  sourced from Brazil, comes in luscious colours and a range of sizes.  Slabs are hand split to give that very attractive smooth, lightly riven surface.

Why choose natural slate?

Natural slate makes great garden patio slabs because it’s beautiful and incredibly tough.  Slate paving needs no maintenance and its low water absorption means it’s very resistant to frost damage.  This natural stone comes in blue, purple (from Wales), green, and there’s even a rust-coloured Delabole slate quarried in Cornwall.  There’s no such thing as boring slate grey!  Slate slabs are the perfect foil for garden foliage and flowers so it’s traditionally the paving of choice for rose gardens and garden paths.  Slate has kept its appeal for the contemporary garden designers too, who love the clean, smooth sawn or split finishes.

Stonemarket also produce high quality, very beautiful slate paving. Nordus slate is contemporary and cool – we love the greeny grey of Gris.  These slate slabs come with the Stonemarket Fairstone assurance for ethical sourcing.

Slate's versatility: chippings and rockery stones

No longer does the the waste slate from our quarries sit around unused.  Many of us use slate chippings as decorative mulch and garden path surfaces.  Again, slate wins here over many other aggregates for its sheer range of colours. It also looks spectacular after rain or under water.  Decorative aggregate specialists, Long Rake Spar, produce an excellent range of recycled slate chippings and large slate rockery stones which are very popular for water features.

 

Installing a slate patio

Just a couple of tips from our paving team: laying slate slabs needs care.  You might want to engage a professional for this type of paving.  We advise using a full mortar bed.  Slate can also scratch under installation but these do fade over time, so no need to panic.