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Australian Government: National Measurement Institute - Trade MeasurementAustralian Government: National Measurement Institute - Trade Measurement
National Measurement Institute

Garden Landscape Materials

Download our Guide to the Sale of Garden Landscape Materials  English  l  Arabic language symbol  l  French language symbol  l  Chinese language symbol  Chinese language symbol  l  Vietnamese language symbol

Garden landscape material means any of the following: soil, pebbles, crushed tile, crushed rock, pine bark, mulch, pacific coral, river stones, crushed material mix and any similar substance for use in gardens.

Trade measurement laws do not specify how garden landscape supplies must be sold. However, certain parts of the legislation imply the following general requirements when selling supplies by measurement.

  • the seller must measure the material in the presence of the customer or provide the customer with an invoice, statement, receipt or delivery docket detailing the measurement
  • the price for material sold must be determined by correctly calculating the stated measurement in cubic metres (m3), tonnes (t) or kilograms (kg) by the stated or advertised rate per unit of material
  • if there is a handling charge or a surcharge for small quantities, it is recommended that a prominent sign be displayed to inform customers of the extra charge or the customer must be advised before the order is taken
  • where less than a full unit of measurement of material is being sold, the price for a smaller quantity must be based on the stated unit price, unless another price is displayed or advertised for smaller quantities

Loose garden landscape materials may be sold by volume, weight, or as a heap, truck/trailer load or loader bucket.

  • Volume – this is the most common way to sell garden landscape materials. The material must be measured in cubic metres (m3) and the seller must have a legally traceable means of measuring the quantity of material being sold. Measuring equipment can include:
    • a bucket on a loader where the bucket has been verified by a servicing licensee or an inspector as holding a specific capacity; or
    • a trailer, truck body or rigid measuring container of a capacity determined by measurement using a verified tape.  
  • Weight – when selling by weight, the material must be measured by the tonne (t) or kilogram (kg). The weight must be determined using a verified scale or weighbridge and scales need to be a type approved by NMI and verified by a servicing licensee or inspector.
  • Heap, truck/trailer load or loader bucket – when material is sold by this method there must be no reference to volume or weight.

All prepackages (unless exempt, see below) must be clearly marked with the name and street address of the packer or party accepting responsibility for packing. The use of a post office box, locked bag, telephone number or email is not acceptable.

Where material is prepacked for sale, the package must be marked with its net measurement on the principal display panel (unless the package exceeds 75 kg).

If 45 packages or less have a total weight of 1 t (i.e. each package weighs more than 22 kg), the measurement marking on each package may be written in terms of the number of packages that make up 1 t (e.g. 28 bags to the tonne).

Prepackages must not contain less than the stated amount at all times prior to sale. Allowance for any expected rate of loss of volume or weight over time must be made when packing, transporting and storing the material. There are two ways of determining whether a package contains a shortfall.

  • Under legislation, shortfall provisions stipulate that a deficiency from the quantity stated on the label should not exceed more than 5% in any one package. There can be no average deficiency from the quantity stated on the label within a sample of randomly selected prepackages.
  • Under the average quantity system shortfall is determined by the measure of the average quantity, together with the scatter or standard deviation, around the average of a sample of prepackages within permissible actual deficiencies.

Click here for more information on prepacked articles.

Some bags (prepackages) of garden landscape material are exempt from the marking requirements detailed above because the density of the product is highly variable, e.g. pine bark feature mix, pine bark nuggets, pre-planted mushroom spawn, tree bark and articles that contain compost, farmyard manure, garden peat, leaf mould, peat moss, sphagnum moss, tanbark and other similar substances.

The national trade measurement laws outline a number of offences including:

  • supply of less than the measurement stated in the offer to purchase
  • using an unverified measuring instrument for trade
  • using an incorrect measuring instrument for trade
  • using a measuring instrument incorrectly
  • advertising, offering or exposing articles for sale at a price determined by a measurement that is not in prescribed units (m3, kg etc)
  • failing to measure an article in the presence of the customer or provide a written statement of the measurement
  • selling prepackages without the net measurement being marked on the package
  • failing to mark the name and street address of the packer or party accepting responsibility for packing

Breaches of the trade measurement laws could lead to an infringement notice or prosecution.

The main laws covering trade measurement are the National Measurement Act and the National Trade Measurement Regulations. The following refer to the sale of garden landscape materials: regulation 4.2(1) and schedule 4 5.8.

For more information contact 1300 686 664, or use our on-line form.