1. When should I use 2A modified and when should I use 2B stone?

2A MODIFIED is typically used when a solid compacted base is needed. Uses include driveways and under sheds. 2B STONE is used where drainage is needed. Uses include perforated pipe, placement under concrete to prevent frost heaving and cracking concrete. 2B STONE can also be used under storage sheds when moisture could be a problem. When 2B STONE is used under sheds you will need to contain it with a border to prevent the stone from getting into your lawn.

2. I am filling in a deep hole, what would you recommend?

Structural fill is used to fill in deep holes. Fill has very little organic matter which avoids continual settling over long periods of time and it is less expensive than topsoil. If topping fill with topsoil for reseeding purposes, then a minimum of 3 inches of topsoil should be placed on top of the fill.

3. What is the difference between Oak Bark and Hardwood mulch?

HARDWOOD and OAK BARK MULCH are both naturally colored mulches. HARDWOOD is less expensive and color fading is slightly faster than OAK BARK. OAK BARK is finer in texture which provides a smoother appearance. There is a slight tendency for finer mulch to “crust” or “mat” which tends to shed water over time rather than allow it to pass quickly through to the soil.

4. What type of soil would I use for planting grass? For flower beds?

TOP DRESSING (TD) and SCREENED TOPSOIL (ST) are very good for grass seed plantings. There is a difference in long term performance. TD will require more attention in watering consistently during grass seed germination (usually 7-28 days) due to the soil classification of a sandy loam. ST is a clay loam which holds moisture better. TD will in the long run provide a much better lawn from better root aeration and higher organic matter. ST over the long term has a tendency to harden thereby increasing difficulty for plug (mechanical) aeration and natural aeration. For flower beds and gardens TD is the best choice because of the high organic content and sandy loam classification.

Summary of Soil Differences:
TD requires more watering initially during seed germination, but provides a better long term lawn. No fertilizer needed. ST is easier during initial grass seed germination requiring less watering. However over the long term the soil will harden and require fertilizer. For more information on grass planting with TD or ST, see FAQ #5. For flower beds and gardens TD is the only way to go. Higher organic matter and excellent root aeration will make a world of difference for your flower beds and gardens.

5. How do I plant grass seed?

1. Cast your seed and very gently rake into the top ¼ inch of soil. No more than ¼ inch or the seed will rot.

2. When using TOP DRESSING do not use starter fertilizer. This will only slow down germination by overloading grass seed with nutrients it does not need or cannot handle. Starter fertilizer may be used if desired when using SCREENED TOPSOIL.

3. Use straw after the seed is spread to help keep moisture in the soil, protect it from heavy rain, birds and heat. Spread the straw evenly (a bale of straw will cover approximately 500 sq. feet). Avoid placing the straw too thick in any area. You should be able to see the soil slightly through the straw. Do not remove the straw. Let the grass come up through it and mow over the straw and grass when needed.

4. Water, water, water. The most critical time for grass establishment is the first 40 days. It is necessary to preserve soil moisture during this time. Perennial Rye grass comes up in 7-15 days depending on soil temperature and moisture. Better grass seeds such as Kentucky Blue Grass take 10 to 28 days. For TOP DRESSING during the first week after seeding, saturate the soil with water every 2 days. After the first week soil must be kept damp (not saturated to mud) by watering every couple of days during hot summer months, less when cool in early spring and fall. Sprinklers should be moved about every 15-30 minutes.For SCREENED TOPSOIL water every 3 to 4 days keeping the soil damp. Water is critical even with SCREENED TOPSOIL but not to the extent of TOP DRESSING. It is never good for grass seed to have enough water to germinate then dry out and die from drought.

5. After heavy rain the soil will wash off of the stone that is near the surface. The soil will appear to have too much stone. Do not remove the stone. It is a natural and necessary component of your soil to keep it working properly. Let the grass grow and the stone will work its way back into the soil where it belongs.

6. Set your mower to its highest setting for cutting, usually 3 inches. Mowing your lawn short is never good for it.

6. I am putting up a shed what type of stone should I use underneath and why?

See answer in question 1

7. What type of stone should I use for a driveway? 2A or 2B?

See answer in question 1

8. What is growing in my landscape mulch?

CLICK HERE to find out what Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences and Cooperative Extensions tells us.