If you’re about to take on a construction project of any size around your property, you are almost assured that you will need some type of dirt to complete it. Dirt is just like any other construction material when it comes to properly planning how much you need, and what type. Failing to do so can result in numerous problems down the line.
How Many Yards of Dirt Do I Need?
Construction materials such as lumber and cement are often simple to plan for, but dirt can be a little more difficult, as it isn’t something that can be measured in normal terms of length, width, or even weight width. Measuring dirt for an area requires its own unique process.
You may already be aware that dirt is almost always sold in cubic yards. So how many yards does your project require?
Measuring Yards of Dirt
The following are common ways of determining your dirt needs in relation to how many yards (or cubic feet) you may need.
1 cubic foot equals 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches, while 1 cubic yard equals 27 cubic feet. For a visual, picture an empty cube that has sides of 1 yard. Fill that empty cube up with dirt, and you have a perfectly-packaged cubic yard of dirt. This yard of dirt is actually more than you may initially realize.
Measuring out the dirt amount beforehand can be done in two different ways:
For example, this is how you would determine how much topsoil you would need for a flower bed that’s 6” deep and 12’ long by 12’ wide:
- Convert the dimension in inches to feet (6” ÷ 12” = 0.5’)
- Multiply the three dimensions together to find the number of cubic feet (0.5’ x 12’ x 12 = 72 cubic feet)
- Divide the cubic feet by the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard (27) to find the number of cubic yards (72 ÷ 27 = 2.67 cu. yd.).
Therefore, you would need 2.67 cubic yards of dirt to fill the flower bed.
Here’s a different calculation for the same amount. This involves converting all three dimensions to yards:
- Convert the dimension in inches to yards (6” ÷ 36” = 0.167 yards)
- Convert the dimensions in feet to yards (12’ ÷ 3 = 4 yards)
- Multiply the three dimensions together to find the number of cubic yards (0.167 x 4 x 4 = 2.67 cu. yd.)
If you aren’t comfortable doing the calculations yourself, online dirt calculators are easy to find on any search engine.
What Soil Type Do I need?
Obtaining the right type of dirt or soil is just as important as determining the amount needed.
Topsoil refers to the top layer of dirt on the earth’s surface. It is commonly found at a depth of around 4 to 12 inches, and usually contains a high amount of nutrients and organic matter, including carbon and nitrogen. The nutrient content makes it ideal for use in gardens, flower beds, or really anywhere you’d like your vegetation to flourish.
Because of the organic material and compounds found in topsoil, it is prone to break down and create air pockets that can randomly collapse, so it is not ideal to use for filling areas on your landscape.
Fill dirt refers to dirt that is below the topsoil layer. Fill dirt has a high amount of hard, rocky material that makes it the more solid of the two soil choices. It is low in nutrients and organic compounds and resists breakdown, making it suitable for such applications as leveling off a surface for building, filling holes and divots in a yard, or creating slopes to grade your soil around your property.
Fill dirt is perfectly fine to build upon, but if you use it as a top layer of soil when planting items, you are going to get disappointing results.
Proper Planning Ensures a Successful Project
As you can see, preparation for your project should include both the right dirt type, and right dirt amounts. Although it may be hard to pinpoint exactly how much dirt you need for a project, getting the amount right within a ballpark range will provide you with what you need to get the job done. It’s better to overestimate than vice versa, as being left with extra dirt afterwards is preferred over having to acquire more. Leftover dirt can be removed by a qualified dirt removal company, kept for future projects, or given to someone you know who may be in need of some! For more information, Contact Dirt Connections by sending us a message online or give us a call.