Monday, March 4, 2024
Attendance at the Landscape Show was significantly up on last year’s event (Image: The Victorian Master Landscapers)
Industry Event

Innovation and sustainability at The Landscape Show

By John Fitzsimmons

2023 saw Landscaping Victoria Master Landscaper’s (LVML) Landscape Show move from Caulfield to Sandown Park. The event’s following continued to grow and moved with it. While many attendees use the show as an opportunity to touch base with existing suppliers, our focus this year was drawn to a number of new products introduced to the industry.

New hardscape materials and complementary structures and fittings were a notable category.

Exhibitors were on hand to offer advice about their products (Image: The Victorian Master Landscapers)
Exhibitors were on hand to offer advice about their products (Image: The Victorian Master Landscapers)
A new outdoor lighting range from Sphera offers alternatives to industrial functionality (Image: John Fitzsimmons)
A new outdoor lighting range from Sphera offers alternatives to industrial functionality (Image: John Fitzsimmons)

With recent trade concerns about working with silica-based materials, the arrival of an option in the form of Jonite® reinforced stone from Singapore was interesting. It uses a granite and resin combination to make trench, pool and tree grates, channel and sump covers, decorative panels, and street furniture. Products are available in more than a dozen standard colours and just as many decorative designs. To go even further, for individual projects, bespoke versions can be produced for different applications, in custom colours and textures, and with custom patterns (think branding and image) and hole sizes. The product is available in Australia through Sydney-based SABdrain.

Traditional materials in similar applications, such as reinforced concrete retaining walls, also continue to innovate. Victoria’s Sunset Sleepers already offered concrete sleepers in various finishes and forms (think ‘stack stone,’ woodgrain texture, smooth and rough block face). The material is popular for replacing wood structures that haven’t weathered the job over time. So, in the same vein, the company now offers fibreglass reinforcing rods, ideal for wetter sites, to help maintain alignment over time.

Decorative panels, trench, pool, and tree grates from Jonite can be customised in colour and design (Image: John Fitzsimmons)
Decorative panels, trench, pool, and tree grates from Jonite can be customised in colour and design (Image: John Fitzsimmons)

On the subject of wet areas and drainage, an idea that has been around for some time, Capiphon™ capillary belt, also presented at The Landscape Show. This is a 2mm thick ‘belt’ of extruded PVC having longitudinal grooves; the grooves are ‘omega’ or teardrop shaped in profile with an opening just 0.3mm wide. The effect is a capillary or siphoning action to provide drainage either horizontally or vertically (for retaining walls). The idea is claimed to effectively remove more water than conventional drainage systems as well as being cheaper to install.

While structural matters were well represented, aesthetics were not ignored, especially the matter of lighting the landscape.

An innovative combination of garden edging, and LED lighting, was presented by Edglit from Canberra. The system utilises extruded marine grade aluminium, powder coated (in a range of colours) and UV treated (10-year warranty). Into this is integrated low voltage LED strip lighting to light the way or showcase the landscape site. Light colours can be selected and varied, with the system Google/Alexa-enabled for control from a smartphone. So, smart colour-coordinated garden edging by day and engaging landscape lighting at night – and it’s recyclable.

Our growing interest in landscape illumination is attracting more choice and innovation from around the world. Local lighting specialist Sphera brought the new Italian lighting range from Diomede to The Landscape Show. With its highly creative forms and ideas comes a warranty somewhat longer than many current market offerings. And while many landscaping light fittings are rather industrially styled, often square and linear, the Diomede lighting boasts a wider range of forms including curves, paintable materials to match architectural colour palettes, and indirect lighting for subtle effect.

Urbancanopee offers creative structures and furniture to enhance spaces indoors and out (Image: John Fitzsimmons)
Urbancanopee offers creative structures and furniture to enhance spaces indoors and out (Image: John Fitzsimmons)

Solid timber post and rail fences, bollards and landscape timbers, as offered by Geelong-based (Vic.) Norwood Products, are often rough sawn and rustic to complement natural settings. However, the company’s investment in finishing equipment now allows them to offer dressed timber elements which have struck a chord with customers wanting natural timber themes with a clean-cut finish.

Form, finish and flexibility are also characteristics of the modular Greenblock fence and retaining wall system. This is adaptable to providing straight and curved walls, and even cutouts and custom profiles. Finishes include painted renders, ColorClad/ColorBond® and BrickClad. Features include modular construction, shallow footings, and quick installation to 2.4m heights.

Similar smart wall solutions, using a different approach, were presented at The Landscape Show by Albury Wodonga-based Wallmark. Whether for privacy, security, acoustic moderation, bulk storage or even fire resistance, this system also offers fast erection, lower costs than solid block walls, and a range of finishes all utilising a system of modular components.

In contrast to modular structural systems, Urbancanopee presented imaginative, creative, surprising and unique structures, and outdoor furniture and fittings to complement and enhance public, corporate and private spaces. Some pieces are functional, others more whimsical, but all add interest and engagement to spaces.

Innovative new product from Edglit combines durable powder coated garden edging with programmable LED lighting (Image: John Fitzsimmons)
Innovative new product from Edglit combines durable powder coated garden edging with programmable LED lighting (Image: John Fitzsimmons)

Among the new greenlife exhibits at The Landscape Show was the Cohort Nursery Group. Formed from the longer established Tall Trees and Botanix nurseries, Cohort is a non-retail specialist supplier focused on the projects, developments, and civic market sectors, and specialising in eucalypts and related genera. The new combined resource has rationalised administration, growing, and procurement while retaining individual marketing opportunities. Well-structured trees based on central leaders, and well-developed root systems using air pruning are seeing Cohort put highlights on 40cm pots – ‘the right tree in the right place’.

Last but not least, mention should be made of Repurpose It®. This is a resource recovery company aimed at boosting sustainability, reducing waste, redirecting from landfill, and reducing our reliance on virgin materials. They take in waste streams ranging from mixed rubble and food or garden organics, and turn them into landscape and construction materials ranging from sub-base pavement aggregates, garden soils and mulches to soft-fall playground mulch. It’s a high-volume segment of the waste industry using ‘closed loop’ resource recovery essential to preserving resources for future generations.

Main photo: Attendance at the Landscape Show was significantly up on last year’s event (Image: The Victorian Master Landscapers)

Uniform, central leader-based trees and air pruning are features of the new Cohort nursery combined approach (Image: John Fitzsimmons)
Uniform, central leader-based trees and air pruning are features of the new Cohort nursery combined approach (Image: John Fitzsimmons)

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