Topsoil has many uses. It can be used to cover the ground, to create new beds, borders or to provide a base for turf laying or sowing grass seed. In paved gardens where there is no access to soil, topsoil can be used in raised beds for growing many plants, including vegetables. For these reasons, and many others, many outdoor projects require the use of topsoil as well. That said, it can be hard to know how much topsoil you need for each individual project.
In this post, learn how to calculate just how much topsoil you need for your project. By the end, you will never have to ask ‘how much topsoil do I need’ again.
What is Topsoil?
It is really critical that for every backyard project, you are selecting the right kind of dirt. Topsoil is the layer on the very top that is considered best used for gardening and planting. It can be used on top of other dirt or it can be used all on its own as in planter boxes. You can also use topsoil when creating flower beds throughout your yard or when gardening. This is because it provides nutrients to your plants and flowers better than alternative dirt.
You want to make sure that you have enough topsoil for your particular project (and not too little) which means understanding how much topsoil you need for your project. This involves knowing the details about your project well before purchasing it’s materials, as well as considering the depth, area and density of the topsoil you need.
You can measure how much topsoil you need yourself or you can use an online calculator as well. You can either purchase topsoil in cubic yards or in bags, which come in smaller amounts. For larger projects, it makes more sense to purchase topsoil in cubic yards, and have it delivered by a professional, given its large weight.
Calculating Topsoil for Your Project
There are some measurements you should know very well before calculating how much topsoil you need. A cubic foot of topsoil is equal to the following: 12 inches x 12 inches x 12 inches. A single cubic yard is equal to 27 cubic feet. A cubic yard is the most common measurement used for buying topsoil. To give you an idea of volume, a full-size pickup truck can hold just about 2 cubic yards of topsoil. This is why we always recommend that you use a professional for most of your projects that require a good amount of topsoil.
When you want to calculate your topsoil needs, you need to measure your project’s area. Then, convert all of the dimensions into feet. Multiply the length x width x height. Finally, divide by 27, or one cubic yard. This will let you know how many cubic yards you need for your project. If you are in between numbers, we always recommend going up. You can use the soil for another project but if you do not purchase enough, your project will not give you the intended effect.
We can use an example to demonstrate how to manually calculate the topsoil needed for a project. Let us assume that you need topsoil for two raised beds, both of which measure 8’ x 4’ x 18”. Start by pretending the two boxes are touching end to end. This makes it easier to calculate since you only have to do the math once. Calculate based on the measurements of 16’ long x 4’ wide by 18” tall.
The first step is to convert all measurements into feet. To do this, divide 18” by 12”. You get 1.5.
Next, multiply all of the dimensions, which are now all in feet. So, multiple 16’ by 4’ by 1.5”. You get a total of 96 cubic feet.
Finally, divide your total cubic feet of 96 by 27, which is one cubic yard. You get 3.5 cubic yards, which is how much topsoil you would require for this project.
Because we always advise you to go up if in between yards, we would say to get 4 cubic yards for this project. Then, you can use the extra topsoil for something else. Put some plants in potted containers or use it for another part of your garden. You could even just add the extra topsoil to this same project. It is better to have a bit too much than not enough.
Factors to Consider
There are a few key factors to consider when determining how much topsoil you need for your particular project and how you will get it. These include how much the topsoil weighs and how many truckloads of topsoil you need delivered.
A cubic yard of topsoil weighs an average of 1,080 pounds. One cubic foot weighs about 40 pounds. These numbers are estimates given that the precise weight depends on a couple of different factors including the content of moisture in the dirt and any debris that might be in the soil.
Different times of the year will influence the weight of topsoil rather significantly, so you want to keep that in mind as well. In the dryness of summer, topsoil can weigh less than it does in the spring when there is more moisture. Because a cubic yard can be an excessive weight, it is often best and easiest to have your topsoil delivered.
Ask An Expert
If you still have questions about estimating how much topsoil you need for your project or to receive a free Virginia topsoil delivery, we encourage you to reach out to Dirt Connections. Planning for how much topsoil you need for a project is not always very straightforward, even when you follow the measurements above, given that dirt can be unpredictable when measuring. Using Dirt Connections can help not only with your planning, but in ensuring you receive the dirt you need in a timely manner.