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14 PalletCentral March-April 2014 pring beckons us all to go out and get up close and personal with Mother Nature. Many people honor Mother Nature by creating spectacular outdoor rooms, amenities and design features in their own backyards. Landscaping is an elegant yet functional art form, and it has created a significant and growing market in landscaping stones and outdoor building materials in America today. How do these products get to consumers? Pallets, of course Jeff Jones, owner and manager of Classic Stonescaping and Gardens based in Northern Virginia, is a self-described "stone nerd." He is intrigued by the art of stonescaping and fascinated by the skill and effort that goes into removing thousand-pound blocks of stone from the earth and transforming them into patios, walkways, rock walls or fireplaces. "It's a nerdy industry, but there's certainly nothing boring about it," Jones says. Quarrying or unearthing natural stone, processing it, transporting it and using it to create a foundation, wall, floor, lintel, table top or artisanal effect is an incredibly long and arduous process. Many hands touch a block of stone before it finds its way to the perfect setting where it will look beautiful for years to come. Jones described the process of clearing a tract of land for development. "It involves picking up field stone that has been lying in the earth, removing every single rock and pebble from the ground, and then dry stacking it into a perfect cube. Imagine building a dry stone wall. Imagine how hard it is to align the stones and get them to stand and balance without mortar. Then think about doing this on a four foot square pallet. Corners are especially hard," Jones says, "and here you've got four tight corners plus internal stacking. It takes a good eye, physical strength and a lot of care and skill. The pallet must fit snug against other pallets on the truck. Plus it's piece work, so speed matters." The pallets upon which the stone is stacked are pretty amazing, too. Wooden pallets used for transporting stone are engineered to hold at least a ton and a half, and are optimized for strength, stiffness and durability. Strength refers to the load-bearing capacity of the pallet throughout handling, shipping and storage. To support heavy loads S Spring BROUgHT TO YOU On a Pallet by Leah Wheeler Blooms photo courtesy of the Society for American Florists. Photos courtesy of Classic Stonescaping and Gardens.

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