When you need to fill up your garden with dirt, your suppliers will ask you a very particular question: how many cubic yards of dirt will you need?
To that question, you will probably ask back: how much is a yard of dirt?
It’s not a mistake. You’re confused, nervous, and a little startled because you probably didn’t know how dirt was sold.
Now you’re faced with the moment of deciding how much dirt you will need and what’s its price.
In this article, we want to help you with that. Take a look!
Table of Contents
Why Does It Matter to Know How Much is a Yard of Dirt?
First, understand this is not about how to measure a yard. It’s about how to buy the right amount of dirt to get your garden looking great.
If you have a better idea of the price and amount of dirt necessary to build your yard, then you’ll know exactly how many to order.
But there’s another advantage: you can also have an easier time giving it a space at home for your projects.
And lastly, it will help you make a better budget for your garden project. There’s no need to spend more than necessary once you know how much a yard of dirt costs and how much it covers.
How Much is a Yard in Feet?
The US standard in how to measure a yard is 3 feet in linear terms. On the other hand, a cubic yard would be 27 cubic feet.
What is a Cubic Yard of Dirt?
People use it as a measurement of quantity, which means a yard long, wide, and high.
As each yard measures 3 feet. Put together; a cubic yard would be like a literal cube with 3 feet on each side.
Why Is Dirt Measured in Cubic Yards?
The reason is simple: it makes it easier for companies to calculate the right price for their dirt.
This happens because different seasons require them to use different prices. Rainy seasons, for example, will saturate the dirt with more water – causing it to feel heavier. By measuring the dirt in cubic yards, they can calculate the quantity more quickly, so buyers pay for the dirt and not the water.
For that reason, you can expect different types of dirt to have varying costs from one seller to another. And this also applies in different seasons.
How Much is a Yard of Dirt Cost?
The price for a bagged yard of dirt depends on how thick and fertile it is and how much clay and water are in it.
Also, it depends on what kind of soil you’re getting. Here are two main types:
This type of yard costs cheaper than buying it in bulk bags, but this is hard to transport since the soil moisture content varies. That’s why you can expect a price of $10 to $15 per yard of loose dirt.
But this is for a typical cubic yard at a low depth (3 inches). If you want to dig deeper, the price will obviously go up. Here’s a better idea of what you may expect:
- For 3 to 6-inch depths, expect $15-$20 per cubic yard
- For 6 to 9 inches, expect between $40-$45 per cubic yard
- For 9 to 12 inches (or more), expect no less than $55 per cubic yard
This type of bagged dirt costs more than getting the loose dirt, but it’s the most convenient way to transport as its moisture content is already determined. You can expect a price of $15 to $20 per bagged yard.
This may also depend on how deep the area you’re covering is.
- For 3 to 6 inches of depth, at least $30 per cubic yard
- For 6 to 9 inches of depth, at least $50 per cubic yard
- For 9 to 12 inches (or more) of depth, expect between $50 and $150 per cubic yard
TO CONSIDER: Be aware that prices for both bagged and loose dirt will depend on the quality you’re getting. Higher-quality dirt for topsoil is a lot more expensive than bargain topsoil that remains in construction sites, for example.
Are Dirt and Topsoil the Same Thing?
No. While topsoil is pretty much dirt, it is not the same type of dirt.
To put it in easy words: topsoil refers to a dark type of dirt covering the top part of your garden. It generally stays within 12 inches of depth and works as the first layer for plants to grow.
As this first layer, topsoil needs to be nutritious. For that reason, it contains a lot of moisture as well as tons of organic material. It also has more oxygen and tends to be a lot looser. This adds up to its suitability as a first garden layer.
That’s why topsoil tends to be a bit more expensive but also lighter than standard dirt.
On the other hand, you have average dirt (also known as dirt fill). It is a rocky, more compact, and heavier type of dirt. It contains less organic material as well, making it slightly less fertile.
For that reason, dirt fill is used below the topsoil. It can cover areas up to 20 inches deep. And being more compact, it works well as a foundation for gardens as it rarely breaks down.
This material tends to be cheaper than topsoil, but it tends to weigh a lot more.
How Much Will a Yard of Topsoil Cover?
This depends on the kind of soil you get and how deep an area you need to cover. Generally, it can cover a 5 by 10-foot area to a depth of about 6 inches (50 square feet). You can also expect a cubic yard to cover areas of 10 by 10 feet at depths of 3 inches (100 square feet).
How to Calculate How Many Yards of Soil You Need
Calculating how many yards of soil you need isn’t hard. You don’t need any special equipment, just a tape measurer and a calculator. Then follow these steps:
- Measure the width, length, and depth of the area where the new landscaping will be put into place. Measure it twice so you don’t make mistakes.
- Then, multiply the width of your garden area by its length. For example, if you have a 20×20 yard of space, multiply, and you’ll get 400 (this would be the square feet).
- Then, multiply that amount by the depth in feet (you need to divide the inches by 12 first) which is 0.25 feet if the depth is 3 inches.
- Multiplied together, the result of length x Width x Depth (20 x 20 x 0.25) would be 100. Then you need to divide this amount by 27. This will give you 3.7 cubic yards.
If you have a yard of 20×20 with 3 inches of depth to cover, you will need 3.7 cubic yards of soil. As you can see, it’s almost as easy as 1-2-3 to calculate.
How Much Does a Yard of Dirt Weigh?
A yard of dirt weighs about 2,200 pounds. That is how heavy it can be when bought in bulk (loose).
When you buy it packed tightly (bagged), the weight is reduced given the dirt has been dried. This reduces moisture and, thus, the weight. You can expect about 80 pounds per bag of soil, around 2,000 pounds when you put 27 bags together to make a cubic yard.
But if you’re talking about topsoil, you can expect even half of that. A typical cubic yard of topsoil can weigh as little as 1,000 pounds in some cases. Slightly more compact topsoil may reach over 1,500 pounds, but it rarely weighs the same as dirt fill.
In case either dirt or topsoil is wet, the weight will increase exponentially. A cubic yard of damp soil may reach 3,000 pounds, while moist topsoil can go up to 2,000 pounds.
How is Dirt Delivered at Your Home?
Most dirt companies sell their products in either bags or loose delivered in pickup trucks.
A typical truck can fit an entire cubic yard without problems. But depending on the size of the truck and the type of dirt, you may have different results.
For example, compact topsoil may weigh upwards of 2,500 pounds per cubic yard. This takes a lot more space than loose dirt at 2,200 pounds per cubic yard.
If the company is using a small hauling truck, they may not fit the entire yard of compact soil in one vehicle. In that case, they will probably need at least two.
Bags are easier to organize and put on trucks, so they take only one truck in most cases.
How Much Dirt Can a Dump Truck Transport?
When you need several cubic yards of dirt, the dirt company will use a dump truck to deliver.
Here, you can expect a typical dump truck to have a large bed that can host over 22,000 pounds of dirt. In that case, you can expect a regular dump truck to deliver upwards of 10 cubic yards per trip.
Smaller dump trucks may have a total capacity of 15,000 pounds or so, enough to haul at least 7 cubic yards of dirt.
How Many Wheelbarrows to Transport a Cubic Yard of Soil?
Straight up, this depends on how many pounds of dirt your wheelbarrow can handle.
But given a typical wheelbarrow can handle between 100 and 200 pounds, you may need anywhere from 10 to 20 wheelbarrows (given you’re transporting a dry cubic yard of dirt at 2,000 pounds).
How Does A Yard of Dirt Look Like?
Depending on whether it is delivered via loose soil from a truck or in bags, you can expect wildly different scenarios. But as a general rule, a yard of dirt looks like a mound.
The sight is not the most pleasant of all. A yard of dirt is nothing fancy.
Get That Dirt Home Right Now!
So, do you know how much is a yard of dirt?
It’s a lot of material to use in your garden, so you need to know whether it’s precisely what you need.
But if a yard is way too much, remember you can always ask for less. That would save you any waste that you may have.
What are you going for then?