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How to Buy Soil in Bulk – What You Need to Know

When you need a massive amount of soil for a large landscaping project, buying in bulk can be faster and cheaper than purchasing multiple smaller amounts as you need them. But there are some things you’ll need to think about and look into before going ahead with this gardening endeavor.

To buy soil in bulk, you should determine what kind of soil you need, calculate how much soil is required, and research local suppliers for quality, pricing, and delivery information. Lastly, plan for delivery or arrange for pick-up.

If you think buying soil in bulk may be a good option for you, read this guide before making any decisions. We’ve explained what you should keep in mind to ensure you don’t make mistakes and waste your time or money.

Is It Possible to Buy Soil in Bulk?

Photo by Glen Jones

Buying soil in bulk doesn’t require a membership to a special club, nor is it reserved solely for landscaping companies or other businesses. Many bulk-supply companies may deal primarily with businesses, public delivery sites, and commercial accounts, but most will cater to individuals with home gardens, too.

It is not possible, however, to buy soil in bulk by walking into your favorite local garden center with a dream and then walking out with a truck full of soil. Most retail suppliers have limited—if any—inventory hanging around in their stock rooms, and in some cases, what you see on the shelves is what they have to sell you.

You may be able to place an order with such places and schedule delivery or pick-up at a later date. Still, they may have limited quantities or even limited varieties available. If you’re serious about buying soil in bulk, it requires going to a different marketplace.

Who Sells Soil in Bulk?

You’d be surprised at how many suppliers are out there selling soil by the truck-full, so rest assured that you can find a good one near you. You shouldn’t just settle for the first one you find, however. Do a little digging into these businesses and their products to ensure you’re getting quality soil from a reputable supplier at the best price.

If you have a local cooperative extension or neighborhood agricultural resource of some kind, go there first. These groups are dedicated to offering the community sound education and advice on topics such as these, and they’ll be able to recommend a good place to go to. Though, any avid gardener you know who has purchased in bulk before should be able to give you an idea of what is available in your area.

Some popular suppliers that sell soil in bulk nationwide in the U.S. include:

At the very least, you can search for places online. Most businesses will have a website with product and pricing information. There are even suppliers that do most or all of their business online, such as SoilDirect.

What Types of Soil can be Bought in Bulk?

Every kind of soil product that can be purchased through your favorite neighborhood supply store can be purchased in bulk amounts. These specialty suppliers will often have even more variety for you to choose from. Some may specialize in one component or another, but in general you can buy all components—soil, compost, fertilizer, mulch—in bulk amounts.

A variety of options are available, including topsoil, garden soil, and soil/compost blends. Some places even let you make a custom mix, but these might be more expensive or there may be an additional fee tacked on.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy Soil in Bulk?

Prices range considerably between quality levels, with the soil going for as low as $10 and as high as $200 per cubic yard. On average, topsoil runs for around $12 to $26 per cubic yard and typical delivery fees could raise this to a $15 to $70 price range.

Buying in bulk is generally the quickest and easiest way to lower the price of many products because packaging and distribution costs are drastically reduced for the supplier. These costs are normally passed on to the consumer, but with them reduced, you get a lower price per unit.

The price of soil is reflective of the time, labor, and equipment used to obtain it. Quality, quantity, and location all factor in as well. Typically, cheaper soil options do not come screened or enriched. Costs rise once compost and other supplements are added.

How is Bulk Soil Sold?

Photo by Lightpoet

Suppliers sell bulk soil and other yard products by volume, typically priced per cubic yard. Some places may offer products “by the pallet” or in other creative retail terms.

These are pre-portioned packages created for convenience and advertised with a “Buy more, save more!” technique, but most places offer price reductions with larger purchases; they just aren’t as flashy about it. In general, you can freely purchase however much you want/ or need.

Regardless, you still must calculate how much soil you need before you can get an idea of how much it will cost.

How to Calculate How Much Soil You Need and How Much It Will Cost

The first thing to measure when determining how much soil you need is the surface area you wish to fill, or the cubic yardage. Cubic yardage is a calculation of volume and requires three measurements: the length of your garden, the width of your garden, and the desired depth of soil required.

You can calculate the cubic yards for different planting areas using this convenient soil depth calculation chart in three steps:

  1. Calculate the garden area to determine square footage (length x width)
  2. Decide your desired soil depth and refer to the chart for the corresponding ft²/yd³ figure
  3. Divide the garden area (total square footage) by the ft²/yd³ number from the chart

Here’s an example:

Let’s calculate the amount of soil needed for a 20-foot-by-30-foot (6.1-meter-by-9.1-meter) garden with a 5-inch (12.7-cm) soil depth:

  1. The garden area is 20 ft x 30 ft (6.1 m x 9.1 m) = 600 ft² (55.7 m²)
  2. The corresponding figure for a 5-inch (12.7 cm) soil depth is 65 (see table below)
  3. Divide 600 by 65, which equals 9.23yd³ (7.06 m³)

This means you would need 9.23 cubic yards (7.06 m³) of soil to cover a 600 ft² (55.7 m²) garden to a depth of 5 inches (12.7 cm).

Below, you will find a soil-depth calculation chart:

Soil-Depth Calculation Chart
DepthSquare Feet/Cubic Yard
1″        324
2″        162
3″        108
4″        81
5″        65
6″        54
7″        46
8″        40

To estimate your cost (less any taxes and delivery fees), take your determined amount of cubic yardage needed and multiply it by the price per cubic yard of the soil you’re considering. For our example above, where we need 9.23yd³ (7.06 m³) of soil, an option priced at $18/yd³ would be 9.23 x 18 = $166.14.

Note: Soil is sold by the cubic yard (or half-cubic yard at best). This means we will need to purchase 9.5 yd³ (7.3 m³) or 10 yd³ (7.6 m³) to have enough for 9.23yd³ (7.06 m³), making the cost rise to $171 or $180, respectively. However, there is one thing we’ve yet to consider: the cost of delivery.

How Much Does Delivery Cost for Bulk Orders of Soil?

Delivery costs will vary, but on average, delivery of bulk soil orders will cost $10 to $50 per yard depending on how far the delivery is and your location.

If you have access to a flatbed truck or other appropriate vehicle, and the supplier you found is local, many places will allow you to come on-site to pick up your bulk-orders yourself. This will eliminate delivery costs.

However, in many cases, you will likely want or need these bulk purchases delivered. Everybody has their own set of fees, requirements, and general logistics of how their delivery service is handled, including possibly working with an external, independent delivery company.

Some suppliers have flat or otherwise fixed fees, while others may charge per mile traveled. A select few may offer delivery discounts with larger purchases, and most require a purchase minimum before delivery is even offered. Each supplier will have delivery information readily available for you online or via customer service so ensure you research this when you shop for soil and include it in your cost estimates.

The delivery charge can make all the difference between an okay bulk-buy and a great bulk-buy in terms of financial value. With relatively smaller amounts, delivery could double the cost you’re paying per cubic yard, potentially nullifying bulk price-points. Typically, delivery becomes more “worth it” with the more you buy. 

That being said, if you choose to purchase more soil than you need for a particular season because it is financially more attractive, you can check out this post on how best to save and store any excess soil that is leftover.

Closing Thoughts

Buying soil in bulk is a great way to save money as well as time spent traveling to and from the garden supply store. It takes just a few measurements to determine how much you need to buy, and by taking time to research a good supplier with fair pricing, you can get yourself a great deal.