How Much Does A Yard Of Topsoil Weigh?
Topsoil is a common type of dirt used for many projects around the home. Whether you’re landscaping, gardening or performing another endeavor that requires topsoil, it’s important to know the weight of a cubic yard of topsoil.
This way you can help determine what you can successfully load in your truck or trailer without causing any unnecessary damage to the vehicle. Before obtaining your truckload of topsoil, always consult the manufacturer’s manual in order to find the recommended payload.
A cubic yard of topsoil weighs 1,080-2,000 pounds when it is dry. Wet topsoil is much heavier and 1 cubic yard can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. The average pickup truck with an 8’x5.33’ bed can fit 1-2 ½ cubic yards of dry topsoil.
However, the actual weight of a cubic yard of topsoil will depend on its moisture content and the amount of nutrients or extra sediment it contains. We’ll outline all of the factors that influence the weight of topsoil and help you determine how much you need for your project.
What is Topsoil?
Dirt is typically placed into two main categories: topsoil and fill dirt. Fill dirt exists below topsoil, has a low amount of organic matter and is often used to grade a property’s soil levels. Whereas, topsoil is the very top layer of dirt on the earth’s surface.
The layer of topsoil most often has a depth of around 4 to 12 inches from the surface and contains organic material and various nutrients. A superior topsoil typically contains helpful nutrients that help to promote plant growth such as carbon and nitrogen. This fact makes topsoil the best choice when it comes to gardening or planting.
The elevated level of nutrients and organic matter gives more oxygen to plants, aiding root health and further growth. However, because of its higher likelihood to break down from collapsing air pockets, it’s better suitable as the topmost layer in landscaping, rather than a supporting, structural layer.
To increase the amount of nutrients within your topsoil, fertilizer, compost and other additional items can be added. With enough fertilizer and compost to supplement, the topsoil can be converted into garden soil over the course of a few months.
A Yard of Topsoil: Sample Weight Calculation
Most of the time, you’ll find topsoil sold in cubic yards but smaller quantities can be bought in bags measured in cubic feet. When using standard cubic yard calculation, one cubic yard of topsoil comes out to be approximately 1,080 pounds, but because of the impact of other factors it will actually equal around 2,000 pounds. If you’re purchasing in cubic feet, one cubic foot of topsoil is roughly 40 pounds.
However, the precise weight depends on a number of different conditions. Some of these factors include the amount of moisture and the existence of small debris found in the topsoil. When compared to fill dirt, topsoil contains a lesser amount of sediment and the weight measurements will be more consistent.
Let’s examine some of the factors that influence the weight of a cubic yard of topsoil.
- Wet vs. Dry: Moisture in soil helps to hold it together and is the primary impact involved in determining a cubic yard of topsoil. For example, a cubic yard of dry topsoil will be around 2,000 pounds, and the same soil that has been saturated can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. We recommend purchasing topsoil on a dry day when rain or other moisture hasn’t affected the overall weight.
- Components in the soil: All soil, topsoil included, consists of various amounts of minerals, nutrients, live organisms and decomposing organic matter. The weight of one cubic yard of topsoil will largely depend its specific makeup. For instance, a cubic yard of sandy, dry soil is around 2,600 pounds, but one cubic yard of dry clay soil weighs close to 1,700 pounds. Always check with the supplier for exact weight when purchasing your topsoil.
- Blended vs. Straight: Some soils can be purchased with compost or wood chips premixed in. Compost adds additional nutrients to the soil for gardening and wood chips enhances drainage. Soils that contain any additional materials, such as these, will have varying weights. While the average cubic yard of topsoil weighs 2,000 pounds, a cubic yard of just woodchips only weighs around 1,000 pounds. Mixing these two materials together will lower the overall weight of one cubic yard of topsoil.
With a better understanding of the overall weight of topsoil, you’ll be more prepared when hauling the amount needed for your project. However, because of the excessive weight of topsoil, you may be better off hiring a company to deliver the required dirt to your property.
How Many Cubic Yards of Topsoil Do I Need?
In order to determine the amount of topsoil you need for your particular project, you need to think in terms of cubes. Specifically, this means how deep, wide and long of an area do you need the topsoil to cover.
For the simplest math, gather the measurements for depth, width and length and multiply them together to obtain the overall cubic feet. As long as you have these measurements, you can always return to this calculation to determine how much topsoil you need.
While cubic feet may be a small enough measurement for your project, you may need to know how many cubic yards of topsoil you need. In order to convert cubic feet into cubic yards, simply divide the number you got for feet by 27. The resulting number will be the amount of topsoil you need in cubic yards.
For example, imagine that you have a raised garden that is 4 feet by 5 feet and it needs to be 0.5 feet deep. Here are the calculations to help break this down further:
Volume = length x width x depth
Volume = 4 feet x 5 feet x 0.5 feet
Volume = 10 cubic feet
Now to convert cubic feet into cubic yards, it’ll look something like this:
1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet
10 cubic feet ÷ 27 cubic feet
To conclude, roughly 0.37 cubic yards are needed for this project.
How to Transport Cubic Yards of Topsoil
When you purchase topsoil from a supplier, you have a couple different methods for getting it to your home, or wherever else you need it: you can place it in the back of your truck or trailer and transport it yourself, or you can have it delivered. If you decide to haul it yourself, you need to know how much weight your vehicle can handle first. Otherwise, you may have to go with an alternative method.
- A trailer or truck can generally handle between one and two cubic yards of topsoil. This largely depends on whether the truck is full-sized or smaller.
- A small dump truck can carry five cubic yards of topsoil and a large dump truck may be able to hold over ten cubic yards. To have your topsoil transported in a dump truck you can typically make an order over the phone, you will pick a date and time based on their schedule, and then deliver to you.
However you decide to get your topsoil home, try to have it delivered to a location that is as close as possible to where you’ll be using it. The standard sized wheelbarrow can manage around three cubic feet, but moving it when it weighs over 120 pounds is a different story. You can expect that it’ll take you about 9 trips to move one cubic yard of topsoil.
The standard dimensions of a full-size pickup truck’s bed are 8 feet long, 5.33 feet wide and 1.5 feet high. If you’re loading the truck completely level, you’ll be able to fit around 2.5 cubic yards of topsoil.How much does a cubic yard of soil cost?
If you’re purchasing topsoil, you can expect to pay around $12 to $55 per cubic yard. Whereas fill dirt costs around $7 to $12 per cubic yard and sand is between $15 and $40 a cubic yard. These estimates also factor in delivery.Can I use topsoil as a fill dirt?
Topsoil is not recommended to be used as a supporting layer under landscaping or solid structures. It is best used as the very top layer in landscaping. Instead, opt for a sandy fill such as pump or river sand.How many wheelbarrows does it take to transport a cubic yard of topsoil?
This will vary depending on the size and recommended load of your wheelbarrow. However, standard wheelbarrows can haul 2 or 3 cubic feet per load. This means that it’ll take anywhere from 9 to 14 full wheelbarrow loads to equal 1 cubic yard of topsoil.
Wrapping It Up
The actual weight of a cubic yard of topsoil depends on multiple factors including moisture levels, whether it’s blended or not and the actual components it contains. However, in general, you can expect a cubic yard of topsoil to weigh approximately 2,000 pounds.
Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.
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