As the weather grows warmer, many people's thoughts turn to cheery gardens and outdoor landscapes. And for most people, landscaping includes buying mulch, peat moss, gravel, stone, seed or other materials. Whatever gardening supply or material is needed, it is particularly important for consumers to understand how gardening materials and supplies are measured and the amount they are to receive.

The Ohio Department Of Agriculture is responsible for enforcing Ohio's Weights and Measures Laws regarding the definition, sale, and unit of measurement for gardening materials and supplies. Local county auditors also enforce the following standards to protect consumers.:

  1. Peat Moss/peat must be sold by either weight, in pounds and/or kilograms; or by volume, in cubic feet and/or liters. If the commodity is labeled in terms of compressed cubic measurement, that quantity shall represent the quantity in the compressed state.
  2. Mulch means any product or material (except peat or peat moss) that is advertised, offered for sale, or sold for primary use as a horticultural above-ground dressing; for decoration, moisture control, weed control, erosion control, temperature control, or other similar purposes. All mulch shall be sold, offered, or exposed for sale in terms of volume measure; either in inch-pound units in terms of the cubic yard or cubic foot; or in metric units in terms of the cubic meter or liter.
  3. Seeds and rocks, stone, and gravel must be sold by weight, in pounds and/or kilograms.

When a consumer buys peat moss or mulch in a package labeled by volume, keep in mind these measurements. Three cubic feet of material will occupy a space measuring 9" by 16" by 36". Two and one half cubic feet occupy 9" by 16" by 30". And two cubic feet occupy 9" by 16" by 24". While it may seem odd to give these measurements, they will closely match the size of the bags peat moss and mulch are usually packaged in.

Never buy rocks, stone or gravel by the "truckload". If a large amount of rocks, stone, or gravel is bought, the buyer should get an invoice showing the seller's name, address, phone number, price per unit (pound, ton, or kilogram) and the gross, net, and tare weights of the amount delivered.

If the consumer is buying decorative stones in bags, the weight of the stones must be clearly marked on the bag. Packaged seeds, such as for flower beds, also need to show the net weight on the front of the package.

Measure the product (width x height x length) and contact the seller immediately if you did not receive the quantity purchased. If you discover a problem with your purchase, it is helpful to take a picture of the product. If the seller can't or won't correct the problem, contact the ODA's Division of Weights and Measures at 1-800-282-1955.

For additional requirements on other gardening supplies and materials as set by the Ohio Department of Agriculture – Weights & Measures Division, click here. Additional Requirements for Gardening and Landscaping Materials and Supplies

In order to protect consumers, the following laws are strictly enforced by ODA's Division of Weights and Measures:

Note: ORC = Ohio Revised Code – Ohio’s Laws

OAC = Ohio Administrative Code – Ohio’s Rules and Regulations

Grass seed and the packaged bags of seed, fertilizer mulch combinations must be sold by weight (Federal Statute)

Packages of flower and vegetable seeds, up to 1/4 oz (7 gram), must be sold by metric weight / larger packages by U.S. standard (avoirdupois) weight [OAC 901:6-3-10(K)]

Bulk flower and vegetable seed can be purchased by weight or dry volume [ORC 1327.55]

Mulch packages must be labeled in dry volume units [OAC 901:6-7-03 (Q)]

Bulk mulch must be sold by volume (we are aware of some truck loads being weighed on vehicle scales) [ OAC 901:6-7-03 (Q)]

Turf sod must be sold by combination count and measure [OAC 901:6-7-03 (H)]

Peat moss can be sold by weight or cubic measure [OAC 901:6-7-03 (D)]

Packaged soils can be sold by weight or dry measure [ORC 1327.55]

Bulk soil can be sold by weight or dry measure (usually ton or cubic yard) [ORC 1327.55]

Landscaping rock must be sold by weight [ORC 1327.55]

Landscape bricks/stones are sold by the ton, cubic yard, or each [ORC 1327.55]

Bulk sales of sand, gravel, topsoil are sold by weight or volume (but not truckload) [ORC 1327.55]

Bulk deliveries, in excess of $20, must be accompanied with an appropriate delivery ticket [ORC 1327.56]