If you are planning on performing any type of construction project around your property, you will most likely need dirt to complete the task.
Dirt is crucial to any construction project, regardless of its size. Whether you are building an entirely new structure, grading your property, or simply putting some new flower beds in the yard, a proper amount of dirt is required to do so.
Proper planning is crucial to any project. Since dirt is almost always a required material, it’s important to know how to properly measure and stock up on what you need prior to beginning, so you don’t end up stalling halfway through while having to acquire more dirt to finish the job.
What Amounts Does Dirt Come In?
Measuring dirt isn’t done by simply getting out a tape measure and measuring out the length and width of the space. Dirt is most often measured in cubic yards, and the application of this amount depends on several different factors.
Picture it like this: Imagine an empty cube that has sides of 1 yard. Fill that empty cube up with dirt, and you have a cubic yard.
1 cubic foot equals 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches, while 1 cubic yard equals 27 cubic feet.
When you acquire 1 cubic yard of dirt, you are acquiring 27 cubic feet. This obviously differs from square footage, which is how properties are usually measured.
Determining Dirt Amounts Needed
Due to the differing measurements for properties and dirt amounts, it may seem difficult to determine just how much dirt you need to purchase for your project. There are several calculators available online that can help you figure out the amount by inputting the length, width, and depth of the area you will be using the dirt for.
Prefer to do the calculations yourself? Here’s how to figure what you’d 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.
- The same result can be found another way. Here’s how to convert 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.)
What Type of Dirt Do I Need For My Project?
If you didn’t already know, not all dirt is created equal. Dirt for construction projects both big and small can be divided into two different types: topsoil and fill dirt.
Topsoil is the the top layer of dirt in the earth’s surface, generally around 4 to 12 inches. It contains a vast amount of nutrients and organic matter such as carbon, nitrogen, and other helpful nutrients, making it ideal soil to use for your yard and gardening.
The high amount of organic matter and nutrients enables more oxygen to get to the plants, and encourages healthier roots and better overall growth. Because of its contents, topsoil does have a certain measure of breakdown and air pockets occur as a result, so it should only be used for the very top layer, rather than as a fill or supporting layer under structures and landscaping.
Fill dirt is the layer of dirt under the topsoil. It contains a very low amount of organic matter, and a much larger amount of solid particles that won’t break down or compost over time, making it ideal for filling spaces and providing a bed for construction projects.
While topsoil is better for planting and gardening, the breakdowns and air pockets cause the soil to move and sink in some spots. This is acceptable for a top layer of soil without structures, but not for a foundation layer that is intended to provide stability for structures and landscaping.
Fill dirt is the only dirt to be used for grading and site preparation around your property. It is the only dirt type that provides stability and minimal breakdown. Whether you are raising the ground level to build a structure on, grading and sloping around your property, or filling up gaps and inconsistencies in your yard and landscaping, fill dirt is always the best method to ensure that your soil is stable and set up to support structures and maintain ideal grading.
Contact Dirt Connections Today for All of Your Dirt Needs
Proper planning and measuring gives you a way to determine the amount of dirt that you need for your project, but what about obtaining the dirt itself? At Dirt Connections, we have all of the resources and experience required to deliver dirt anywhere around the Washington D.C. area, for both residential and commercial projects. Give us a call, or contact us today to discuss your specific project needs, or to set up a free inspection for your free dirt delivery directly to your project site.