How much does topsoil cost?

April 9, 2021

Bulk Topsoil vs. Buying by the Bag

Bagged Topsoil

Bagged topsoil costs $2 to $5 per bag or about $35 to $180 per cubic yard.

To get enough topsoil for just 1 cubic yard you would need to purchase 36 40-lb. bags of topsoil! Not only purchase them, but pick all 36 of them up off the shelf and load them into your cart, load them onto the belt at check out and then back into your cart, load them into your vehicle and then drive the soil home and unload it. By the time you get done with a quick trip to the store for some topsoil, you will have lifted and moved 7200 pounds of soil. Wow, if you aren’t tired reading that, then you might as well cancel that gym membership and get a part time job at the local nursery and get paid to do your thing!

Due to its higher price point, bagged topsoil should only be used for small areas.

Bulk Topsoil

The cost of bulk topsoil varies depending on where it is sourced and where you are located. It’s usually sold in cubic yards. Topsoil ranges in price from $12 to $55 per cubic yard, just for the soil.

What about delivery?

Typically, delivery fees are not included in the topsoil price. You can expect to pay anywhere between $15 and $150 per load. The amount of material you require, the distance traveled, and the difficulty of access are all factors to consider.

Orders of more than 8 cubic yards of topsoil, travel distances of more than 20 miles, or delivery in congested areas areas will fall on the high end of this estimate.

It’s Just Dirt! Why is it so expensive?

“Dirt Cheap”, huh? Well, I’m not sure who came up with this saying, but they obviously were not purchasing topsoil! Sure, topsoil falls under the umbrella of “dirt”. But topsoil is so much more than “just dirt”.

Topsoil cannot be man-made. You can’t buy “new dirt”. It takes over 500 years for the earth to create 1-inch of topsoil. Topsoil is icing on the cake of the earth. It’s the top layer of earth that is responsible for sustaining life to us all (Read More: 6 Weird Facts about Topsoil). Availability is a huge factor. Read on to see why…

The process of how the dirt gets from the ground to your driveway is what drives the price of your topsoil.

  1. Somewhere, an excavation contractor or other similar contractor used heavy equipment to very carefully strip the entire layer of topsoil from a jobsite to prepare the site for a new project. This unprocessed soil is sold to a local topsoil supplier.
  2. The supplier will load their dump trucks with the material from the jobsite or they will pay to have the dirt delivered to them. Either way, it’s an additional cost to the supplier. The farther they have to go to get the materials, the more it costs and those prices will get passed down.
  3. Once the dirt is delivered, the supplier then uses heavy equipment to load and run the topsoil through a screening machine. This process dries the soil and screens all the rocks and debris. The process is usually performed multiple times and is sold as screened topsoil to the public. The use of heavy equipment and expensive screening machines are used in this process, again, adding to the cost to produce the product.
  4. Once the finished product is ready to be sold the supplier then loads the material in your truck or trailer using a loader or tractor and you pay him directly.
  5. If you don’t have a truck or trailer, you would need to pay a landscape material delivery company to have your material delivered. Your delivery company will purchase the material from the supplier and use their truck or trailer to transport your material from the supplier to your driveway, which obviously costs more than picking it up yourself.

As you can see there are many factors that affect the price of topsoil.

Bagged topsoil is heavy, and requires a lot of time at the store to purchase and energy move around and can become very expensive when you need more just a few bags.

Bulk topsoil is more convenient, more cost effective and doesn’t require as much physical effort, especially if you have it delivered.

We also learned that Mother Earth is responsible for making the topsoil, and let’s be honest, she’s not so fast with a rate of only 1-inch every 500 years.

Affordable topsoil is supplied through local excavations. Topsoil is in high demand and finding local topsoil has become increasingly difficult. Many suppliers are trying to meet the demand by to traveling outside their local area to find raw material, leaving them no choice but to raise prices year after year.

How Much Topsoil Do I Need for a Healthy Landscape Project?

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