When you’re preparing a plot of land for a new lawn or you need to renovate your existing lawn, you’ll most likely need to add some topsoil. For this you need to calculate how much soil you actually need for the project. Topsoil is mostly sold in cubic yards, so how much does 1 yard of topsoil weigh?
This will depend on various factors which we’ll discuss in more detail, but firstly what actually is topsoil?
What Is Topsoil?
Naturally occurring topsoil is usually the top 4 to 12 inches of soil which contains all the organic matter including the nutrients and minerals which plants need to grow. Consider the following soil profile for a more visual explanation.
In this natural soil profile, the topsoil would be a combination of O (undecomposed organic matter) and A (surface soil containing decomposed organic matter, nutrients and minerals).
When a new area of land is cleared for development, these top layers are usually scraped off and sent to soil companies or garden centers to be sold as topsoil.
A company who supplies top quality topsoil will often add more organic matter and even fertilizer to the soil before making it available to consumers to buy.
What Is The Weight Of A Yard Of Topsoil?
The weight of a yard of topsoil will vary depending on it’s composition and moisture level. Obviously, wetter soils will weigh far more than dry soil.
If the soil contains a higher level of sand and small rocks it will weigh more than soil which contains more plant material or even small wood chips.
Some commercially available topsoils may also be sifted. This effectively removes rocks or other debris such as small sticks and means they will weigh less than unsifted soils.
Therefore, a cubic yard of topsoil can weigh anywhere from 1400 to 2000 pounds or even more. Roughly speaking, a 40 pound bag of topsoil is around 0.75 cubic feet. And, there are 27 cubic feet in 1 cubic yard.
How Do You Calculate How Much Topsoil You’ll Need?
Calculating the amount of topsoil you’re going to need is easy with just a little math.
Firstly, you need to measure your land area in feet as well as the depth of topsoil you want to add.
So, if your lawn area is 9 feet in length and 4 feet in width and you want 6 inches of topsoil, follow this calculation.
9 feet (length) x 6 feet (width) x 0.5 feet (depth) = 27 cubic feet.
If one cubic yard = 27 cubic feet, you’ll need exactly one cubic yard for this project.
Therefore, you can either order 1 cubic yard to be delivered in a small dump truck or you can buy 36 bags weighing 40 pounds each. Remember, a 40 pound bag of soil is around 0.75 cubic foot.
Using An Online Topsoil Calculator
If you don’t want to do the calculation manually, there are various online dirt calculators that you can use.
Here’s one example
Using one of these online calculators can make your job easier and you’ll know exactly how much topsoil you need to order.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How many yards of topsoil will fit in a dump truck?
Basically, this is dependant on the size of the truck. A small dump truck will hold around 5 cubic yards while larger trucks can easily accommodate up to 10 cubic yards or more depending on the weight of the soil.
How many yards of topsoil will fit in a pickup truck?
A standard size pickup truck with a tray dimension of 8 feet by 5 feet should be able to carry about 2.5 cubic yards of topsoil.
How many wheelbarrows in 1 yard of topsoil?
Again, this depends on the size of your wheelbarrow and how much weight you can easily push along. An average sized wheelbarrow should be able to hold about 2 to 3 cubic feet. Therefore, you’ll need to make 9 to 14 trips with your wheelbarrow to distribute 1 cubic yard of topsoil.
Can I add topsoil to my existing lawn?
If you need to renovate your existing lawn and maybe fill in any holes or dips, you can add a thin layer of topsoil. Make sure it’s a good quality soil and contains a good level of organic matter. You can even do this in stages to give your grass time to adjust. Just add a small amount at a time so that you don’t cover the grass completely.
Now that you’re clear about the weight of 1 yard of topsoil, you can confidentially order exactly the amount you need. But remember, when buying topsoil, you get what you pay for, so try to purchase the absolute best quality you can afford.
You’ll be glad that you did when your lawn rewards you with lush, thick growth you and your family can enjoy.