How Much Soil for 5 Gallon Pot? [Explained]

how much soil for 5 gallon pot

As a gardener, you know that soil is one of the most expensive parts of gardening because we use it all the time, so it can be stressful when you need to fill a new 5-gallon pot.

To avoid buying too much soil, it can be helpful to work out how much you need before you go; so that begs the question, how much soil do you need for a 5-gallon pot?

A 5-gallon pot will take 0.7 cubic feet or 20 quarts of dry soil.

Buying soil can be a chore, so knowing how much you need before you get to the garden store can help curb your spending and get just what you need.

This article is going to help you work out how much soil you will need to fill your 5-gallon pot and give you a recipe for some great homemade potting soil.

Grow Your Yard Tip
Worm castings are great for your soil. For every 5-gallon pot of soil, you should add 1/2 gallon of worm castings to aid aeration and water retention.

How Much Soil for a 5-Gallon Pot?

To fill a 5-gallon pot, you need 0,7 cubic feet or 20 quarts of dry soil.

A 5-gallon pot is actually the ideal pot size to use because it can be filled with exactly one bag of potting soil. Most potting soil is sold in 20-quart bags, which is the perfect fit for your pot.

It may seem like too much when you first pour the whole bag into the pot, but it just needs a little work. Use a spade to break up any large clumps and fill in any air pockets, and then level off the top. This should be the perfect amount to fill your 5-gallon pot with just enough space for your plant.

One factor you need to take into account is water content. Water adds weight and bulk to soil and will mess with your measurements. For this reason, we recommend using fresh soil from the bag or a moist mix without being wet.

How to Make DIY Potting Soil

Our favorite way to fill our pot plants, raised beds, and container gardens is to mix our own potting soil. This involves only four ingredients, but since you will use a small amount of each, these supplies should let you fill up a few 5-gallon pots.

You can mix up one batch to fill one pot or make a larger batch, place it in a bin with a lid and keep it for future planting. Once you’ve made this once, you can easily adjust your measurements to fill a 5-gallon pot perfectly.

Then you can fill your pots by eye and maybe have left over for some houseplants.

Soil is one of your most significant investments as a gardener, so being able to mix up the perfect blend for your plants will help you get the most out of it. This method is also an excellent way to garden on a budget, as you won’t use massive amounts of each ingredient.

This becomes even more budget-friendly if you use your own homemade compost from your garden scraps. This is a perfect example of creating a cycle within your garden that has very little waste and puts all your plant waste back into your garden.

To make your own potting soil:

You will need:

  • Coco coir
  • Worm castings
  • Compost
  • Vermiculite
  • Large bucket or bin for mixing
  • A pot or scoop (this will be our part measurement)


  1. If you have a brick of coir, start by submerging it in water and letting it hydrate. Break it up by hand and get rid of any remaining water.
  2. In a large container, mix 4 parts coco coir, 2 parts compost, 1 part worm castings, and 1 part vermiculite.
  3. Mix by hand until it is thoroughly combined.
  4. Fill your 5-gallon part with your fresh soil mix.

We find that making a scoop out of a gallon milk jug and using this as our part measurement makes the perfect amount to fill a 5-gallon pot.

Grow Your Yard Tip
If you are short on funds, why not reuse some old soil instead of buying new? Find out the best way to do this here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are 5-gallon pots exactly 5 gallons?

5-gallon pots are actually a little larger than 5 gallons to give some wiggle room for spills or movement. However, most pots will have measurements on the side to guide you. The 5-gallon mark will be the one that is highest to the top of the pot.

This is also the case if you are gardening in 5-gallon buckets.

How many pounds of dirt can fit in a 5-gallon pot?

This answer really depends on how moist the soil is. Wet soil is very heavy because the water content adds significant weight to it. As a rough estimate, it will take 55lb of moist but not wet soil to fill a 5-gallon pot.

How do I work out how much soil I need?

So we have covered how much soil you need for a 5-gallon pot, but how can you work it out for yourself?

The general formula (in feet) is: length x width x depth. This fill gives you the cubic feet needed to fill your pot.


After looking at all of these factors, it’s clear how much soil you need to fill a 5-gallon pot.

You will need 55 pounds or 0.7 cubic feet or 20 quarts of soil to fill a 5-gallon pot. This works out at one full bag of potting soil.

Hopefully, this helps you up your soil game and ensures that you never buy too much or too little soil ever again. We also encourage you to try your hand at making your own potting soil so you can fill your 5-gallon pot with the perfect soil.

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