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Most bags of dirt are calculated per cubic yard. A cubic yard is measured as an area of one yard in one yard of length, one yard of width, and one yard of depth. However, if you need this imaginary cube to be longer, narrower, or shorter, you can modify its dimensions accordingly. Since you can’t fill your garden beds into yard-high chunks, you have to know the average weight of dirt and how to measure one cubic yard of it. But first, what does a cubic yard of dirt weigh?
What Does a Cubic Yard of Dirt Weigh?
A cubic yard of dirt weighs around 2,200 pounds. The dirt weight per cubic yard changes with its moisture level and composition. According to Grow Your Yard, the average weight for a yard of topsoil, which is more fertile than dirt, is about 1,400 to 2000 pounds.
Adding three inches of soil to a 100-square-foot area would require a yard of soil or enough to fill over a standard truck bed.
Topsoil is often sold in bulk in garden centers per “yard”. The unit is one cubic yard, measuring 3 feet or 36 inches on all sides. The recommended depth of additional soil for creating a new lawn in existing poor soil is three to six inches from the ground.
Please note, however, that dirt is a natural product. Depending on the origin and composition, the weight values can vary slightly or drastically. For example, some experts rate saturated dirt at around 3,000 pounds per cubic yard. Of course, the differences are not so high in most cases, thus the budget for your building, gardening, or pool leveling project.
Loose consistency is an important quality feature of good soil. Compaction is, of course, unavoidable in an underlay for the pool, lawn, or pavement slabs. This technicality increases the quantity required and weight by an average of 10 to 15 percent, which should be included in the calculation.
What determines the weight of dirt?
Looseness, soil texture, humidity, among other factors, can determine the weight of dirt, and you have to consider these:
Disturbed or Undisturbed Soil?
Measuring the weight of disturbed soil is different from calculating the weight of an undisturbed cubic yard of soil. Disturbed soil always has more air than undisturbed soil. When soil is dug up, it becomes loose and loses the denser structure it had when it was in the ground. This way, soil disturbed will have a greater volume and less weight per cubic yard than undisturbed soil. It is important to determine how much soil you need. If you are asking for fill soil, be sure to ask what the estimated percent solution is.
The following three materials make up the mineral portion of the soil: sand, silt, and clay. Sand is the largest, and clay is the smallest. The percentage of these materials in soil determines its texture. Sandy soils are grainy and can get lumpy easily. Silty or clayey soils feel like flour and have stronger lumps. Clay soils are very dense and have clods that are very hard. A soil with a lot of sand will be lighter than a soil with a lot of clay. Most soils have a loamy texture with equal parts sand, silt, and clay.
The Humidity of The Soil
The more water the soil can hold, the heavier it will be. Loamy soil is not only denser than loamy or sandy soil, but it can also hold more water. Clay soils have a greater surface area than other soils, especially silt or sand. With a larger surface, the water has more area. Although there are large pore spaces between sand particles, water is not held in sandy soil as firmly as clay soil. If you weigh a wet floor, it will be significantly heavier than when it is dry. If you are asking for soil by weight, be sure to ask what the percentage of soil moisture is to calculate the weight of the water.
Measuring The Soil Weight
Soil is most often sold in cubic yards. However, the thickness of the soil depends on the use (e.g., new lawn versus garden, etc.). Suppose you would like to calculate the volume in cubic yards. In that case, the volume is therefore represented by the following global formula:
Vol = Length X Width X Height
An inch thick cubic yard extension will cover approximately 324 feet. Multiply the length by its width to determine the area you need to cover the surface and calculate the yardage from there.
To calculate the weight of a cubic yard of undisturbed soil, measure one square foot on the soil’s surface. Take out the square of soil by one foot and store all the soil carefully in a bucket beforehand. Weigh the cube of the soil and subtract the weight of the cube to obtain the weight of the newly disturbed wet soil.
Allow the soil to dry for three to four days, depending on how wet it is. Multiply the dry weight of the soil by 27 to find how much a cubic yard of soil would weigh.
Divide the difference in weight between the wet and dry soil by the weight of the dry soil. Subtract this answer from 1 and multiply by 100 to get the percentage of water in the soil.
For example, if your wet floor weighs 25 pounds and the dry weight is 16 pounds, 25 minus 16 equals 9, divided by 16 equals 0.56.
Soil quality can vary considerably from source to source. You can find free dirt at freedirt.com or by checking your local city or town. Individuals buying soil in the spring may have a wider range of options.
Soil is necessary for new yards, for gardens, and can be used to help “level” an uneven lawn. One type of soil that is most sold to gardeners, landscapers, or lawn owners is topsoil. Topsoil refers to the top six or more inches of a patio or garden, which contains the vast majority of the nutrients plants and trees need for optimal health. Soil is necessary for new yards, for gardens, and can be used to help “level” an uneven lawn.
Ensure The Soil Meets Specifications
Topsoil varies in quality based on its origin. Healthy soil will have a balanced amount of organic matter already mixed into the soil. Inspect the dirt carefully for its appearance, texture, and odor. Have the contractor show proof that the soil meets the specifications of the American Society of Landscape Architects or equivalent association in your region for landscaping projects.
The soil should be dark with a deep rich brown to blackish color. The soil should crumble in your hand after adding a little water and squeezing into a ball. If it remains compact, there may be a lot of mud in the soil, and if it falls apart immediately, there may be too much sand. Soil should smell sweet like a forest floor in the fall. If it smells sour, then it probably came from too far a meter to be soil.
Cost Per Yard
According to CostHelper.com, the cost depends on your location within the country, whether the soil is delivered or collected, and the quality of the soil. You can generally buy soil for $12 to $18 for a cubic yard. High-quality soil can cost up to $30 in the most expensive markets; however, more than $30 can be excessively expensive. The more you order, the less it will cost you per yard. Delivery will depend on weight and distance, and a rate must be agreed upon in advance.
Cost Per Bag
Soil also comes in bags and costs anywhere from $2 to $5 per bag. Almost 20 bags are needed to create one cubic yard. Therefore, at a rate of $180 to $500 per cubic yard, bags should be used for small areas.
A Cubic Yard of Dirt Weighs at Least a Ton!
The average weight of dirt per cubic yard is around 2,000 pounds or thereabouts. The weight of the soil can however vary based on different criteria such as dryness, humidity, origin, disturbance, and more.
The composition of soil influences its density and weight. Most soils are made up of fine mineral particles. You can however change the composition of the soil. Only soils found near swamps or bogs are significantly lighter. Due to the mineral content in soils, they are all heavy materials. Besides the inherent weight of the earth, it can also hold large amounts of water. The weight of water in the soil is a large part of its weight.
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Finally, soil prices differ dramatically based on region, quality, and several other factors. The starting price per yard varies from $12 to $18. However, a reasonable price in most low regions is $20 per cubic yard. Good soil appears brown and will crumble in your fingers. Quality soil can prevent weeds and other nasty surprises in a yard.