When you’re laying down mulch or topsoil, you can’t do much without knowing how many wheelbarrows’ worth of “stuff” you’re going to need to haul. Thankfully, there is a measurement available for you that can make it easier to run the numbers. That measurement is a cubic yard. But, that still doesn’t explain how many wheelbarrow loads you’re going to need to haul…
There are two main wheelbarrow sizes used in DIY projects: 2 cubic feet and 3 cubic feet. A 2 cubic foot wheelbarrow will need to be refreshed 14 times for a single cubic yard of stuff. A 3 cubic foot wheelbarrow will need to be refilled nine times to carry a full cubic yard.
A cubic yard is a lot larger than most people realize, yet it’s a staple among landscapers for a reason. If you’re just starting to plan out your wheelbarrow loads, this guide will help immensely.
How Big Is A Cubic Yard?
It’s three feet, by three feet, by three feet. This makes it 27 cubic feet in size, or 46,656 inches. So, the amount of mulch (or gravel, or whatever) that you have will need to be calculated by that number.
How Much Surface Area Does A Cubic Yard Of Soil Cover?
To give you a better idea of what a cubic yard of soil, a full cubic yard of soil will be enough for 100 square feet of terrain, two inches deep. Most other materials, including mulch and gravel, will also have a similar read.
How Big Is Your Wheelbarrow?
Most home wheelbarrows either carry two or three cubic feet, which translates to 14 or nine loads per cubic yard, respectively. But, you might have an extra-large wheelbarrow that doesn’t quite bring in the same load as a standard one. If this is the case, then you’re going to need to calculate the number of loads per yard. You can do this by using the following equation:
- 27/(size of cubic feet your wheelbarrow carries) = (number of loads you need)
Why Should You Use Cubic Yards When Planning Your Landscape?
At first glance, cubic yards seem like a strange way to calculate your supplies, but there’s a couple of reasons why you might want to use cubic yards. These main factors are what make cubic yards a smart move:
- It’s easy to calculate how much coverage you get from a cubic yard of supplies. Each yard will give you 100 square feet of coverage, two inches deep. It doesn’t get much easier than that, since it’s hard to get any other measurement to get coverage in factors of 10.
- Cubic feet measures size, not weight. A cubic foot of gravel will weigh different than a cubic foot of soil or a cubic foot of mulch. Trying to do things by weight means that you won’t be able to calculate your coverage and that you also might end up making more mistakes. Cubic foot measurements are just more reliable and uniform.
- Cubic measurements of any sort are the only way to take into account coverage for depth. If you were going to try to just calculate square footage using materials, you may end up shorting yourself.
- Cubic yards act as the standard measurement with most landscaping companies. If you go to almost any landscaping company, you’ll see prices in cubic yards. This is especially true when it comes to gravel. While we can’t tell you how much a gravel driveway costs, we can tell you it’ll be easier to determine if you use cubic yards.
- Measuring out cubic yards is usually the easiest way to determine if you need a dump truck, or more impressively, multiple trucks. Most major companies that use dump trucks will send deliveries according to the number of cubic feet you need anyway. Speaking of, let’s talk about that a little more…
How Many Cubic Yards Can A Dump Truck Carry?
Let’s say that you’re going to need a lot of mulch, or that you want to get a gravel driveway made. You’re not going to be able to haul that amount of material in a Honda Civic or a Ford F-150. You will need to call a dump truck to do the job.
Dump trucks aren’t uniform, but there are still some guidelines that you can use in order to figure out how many trips (or trucks) you’re going to need in order to get the job done:
- Weight matters, especially when it comes to your truck’s ability to haul materials. A typical dump truck can carry 4.5 tons to 6.5 tons of material in a single route. If you have statistics regarding the weight of the material, then you can calculate it out from there. Do not overload a dump truck, as this can damage the hydraulics on the truck.
- In terms, of space, you can expect a dump truck to carry between 10 to 14 cubic yards. This means that a single dump truck visit will be enough to give you enough soil for 1000 to 1400 square feet. This is more than enough for a typical suburban yard.
- When you break it down in terms of wheelbarrow loads, this will translate into 168 to 108 loads. This is for a 2 cubic foot or three cubic foot wheelbarrow, respectively. If you cannot haul all of that material in a single round due to the weight, then you may need additional trips to the pile.
How Many Loads Should I Expect To Carry?
Sometimes, you won’t need a full dump truck in order to get the coverage you need. In this case, it’s often best to just work with a chart. This one below can be remarkably helpful when it comes to your planning sessions.
|2 Cubic Foot|
|3 Cubic Foot|
Should You Ask For Help When Planning Out Your Landscape Coverage?
In most situations, a little simple math can go a long way. However, we all know how bad a single math error can become when it comes to budgeting and planning. It can get messy, which is why it’s always an okay idea to double-check your plans with a professional who sees projects like yours every day.
Landscaping companies often have in-house planners who are able to guide you when it comes to making a purchase. If you aren’t using a landscaping company, there are other companies that can help you. Landscaping supply companies, gravel companies, and even gardening companies can help you determine the right load for the job.
Do You Need To Use Cubic Yards For Grass Seeds?
Cubic yards are mostly used when it comes to bulky, large-scale purchases like mulch, soil, sod, and gravel. Trying to use it for a lightweight item that is known for fast coverage, such as grass seeds, is not a smart idea in most cases. Grass seeds actually come with a suggested coverage written on the seed bag.
If you are working on seeding a new lawn, it’s better to just go with the amount of coverage suggested on the seed bag you have. Each seed species has its own coverage rates and growth rates. Since it is possible to sow too many grass seeds, the bag is usually your best guide on how to grow a healthy, happy lawn.
How much does a cubic yard of topsoil cost?
Prices for topsoil can vary greatly due to quality, seller differences, as well as the purpose of said topsoil. A typical cubic yard of topsoil will cost between $12 to $55, depending on varying factors. Most small yards will need at least four to eight cubic yards of topsoil, so it’s easy to see where the price of soil will add up.
When calculating how much topsoil you need, it’s best to err on the side of caution. It’s better to have extra topsoil leftover than it is to have to run out to the landscaping company and ask for some more.
How deep should topsoil be?
This is where a lot of calculations need to be taken into closer scrutiny, especially if you’re trying to figure out how many cubic yards of topsoil you’ll need. Unlike gravel, which usually only needs a two-inch depth, topsoil will need at least six inches in order to provide the coverage your lawn and flowers will need to thrive.
Grassroots can grow as deep as four to six inches in length. In terms of cubic yards, this means you’ll need three cubic yards to cover 100 square feet in topsoil. Any less, and you may find yourself with a struggling lawn sooner than you think.
How much does a cubic yard of soil weigh compared to a cubic yard of gravel?
Soil obviously weighs far less than solid rock, but the full details might surprise you. On average, a cubic yard of soil will weigh as much as 1,800 pounds. That’s almost a ton! Gravel, surprisingly, isn’t too far behind. On average, a cubic yard of gravel will weigh as much as 2,200 pounds, which is roughly a ton.
Soil generally tends to stay more stable when it comes to its weight. This is because soil doesn’t have varying densities. It’s just dirt. With gravel, you may see a deeper variety of weights. Lightweight gravel like pumice will not weigh as much as gravel made from granite due to the density of the rock.