How Much Does a Cubic Yard of Topsoil Weigh?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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If you’re like most gardeners, you probably think about the weight of topsoil when you have to haul it from the store to your home.

But how much does a cubic yard of topsoil actually weigh?

Cubic yard of topsoil weigh answered
Cubic yard of topsoil weigh

And what else do you need to know before you start filling your garden beds?

Key Takeaway – The weight of a cubic yard of topsoil varies greatly and can be anywhere from 1000 lbs to almost 3000 lbs. The weight will depend on the type of topsoil, the moisture content, and whether it’s been compacted.

What Is Topsoil?

Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil, and it is an important component of the Earth’s ecosystem.

It plays a critical role in plant growth providing essential nutrients, water, and air.

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Topsoil typically has a dark brown or black coloration due to the high organic matter content.

Topsoil is typically removed from an area when development or agricultural activities are taking place.

From here it can be used to create gardens, lawns or agricultural fields and is usually sold by the yard or truckload.

Why Does the Weight Vary?

There are a few reasons why the weight of topsoil can vary so much.

Soil Type

The first reason is due to the type of soil.

Soil mixers types

Soil can be broken down into three types:

  1. sand
  2. silt
  3. and clay

Sand is the lightest type of soil, because the particles are small and don’t hold onto much water.

Clay, on the other hand, is the heaviest. Clay particles are much larger and very densely packed. This holds onto moisture and keeps air out.

Topsoil is a blend of different soil types, depending on the area it was gathered from, but a topsoil with higher levels of sand will be lighter, and soils with more clay will be heavier.

Moisture

The second reason is due to the amount of moisture in the soil.

Soil that is very dry will weigh less than soil that is saturated with water. The particle size of the soil will determine how much water the soil retains.

Measuring soil moisture
Measure soil moisture

Sand is made of very fine particles, and is the most well-draining type of soil, where clay is the opposite and because the particles are so large and dense it holds onto water for a long time.

After a rainfall, the sand might dry in a couple days, but clay-based soils could take a week or even longer to dry.

Organic Matter

The third reason has to do with organic matter.

This is anything that was once living, like leaves, grass, sticks, and manure.

Organic matter decomposes over time, and as it does it breaks down into small pieces called humus.

Organic matter is very light, and often makes up a large percentage of topsoil. The more organic matter present, the lighter the soil will be.

Reasons to Consider the Weight of Topsoil

Even though there are a lot of variables that can affect the weight of topsoil, it’s still helpful to know how much a cubic yard weighs.

This is especially true when you’re dealing with large quantities, like when you’re buying topsoil for your garden, or if you’re having it delivered.

For Example – Let’s say you need 5 yards of topsoil for your garden. If the topsoil weighs 2,000 pounds per cubic yard, that means you’re dealing with 10,000 pounds of topsoil.

That’s a lot of weight, and it’s important to make sure your delivery truck can handle it, or that your vehicle can tow a trailer with that much weight in the back

wheelbarrow dirt

The weight of topsoil can also be important when you’re budgeting for a project.

Some places charge by the volume of soil, but there are places that charge by weight.

The price per 1000lbs varies from $10 to $60, or double that amount to include delivery fees.

If you have to pay by weight, you would want to find a dry soil with less clay in it to save money for your project.

How Much Space Will a Cubic Yard of Topsoil Cover?

Speaking of projects, you might also be wondering how much ground a cubic yard of topsoil will cover.

The rule of thumb is that one cubic yard will cover an area of 100 square feet to a depth of 3 inches.

To calculate how much topsoil you need for your project, first determine the area you need to cover, and then the depth.

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For example, let’s say you need to cover an area of 1200 square feet to a depth of 2 inches. To do this, you would need 20 cubic yards of topsoil.

You can use the following formula:

  • Area in square feet x Depth in inches/12 = Cubic yards of topsoil needed

Or if math isn’t your strength, you can use this topsoil calculator to figure out how much you’ll need.

Final Thoughts

Knowing the weight of topsoil is important for a variety of reasons.

It can help you when budgeting for a project, determine how much space one cubic yard will cover, and figure out how much topsoil you need for your specific project.

There are many factors that affect the weight of topsoil, such as moisture content, organic matter, and particle size.

With all of these variables, the weight of a cubic yard of topsoil can range from 1000 to nearly 3000 lbs.

Now the fun part begins and you can start using that 3000 lbs of topsoil to improve the look of your yard!

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