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Calculator for Landscaping Projects

AllThumbsDIY - Bulk Landscaping Material Calculator

As you can tell, I do a lot of DIY home projects. Outdoor landscaping projects is no exception, including bulk driveway gravels, dirt, mulch and more.

In my experience dealing with various bulk seller, one of the most frustrating thing is that they all use different methods of measuring quantity.

For example, a stone center near me delivers topsoil in tons where a bulk landscaping company delivers in cubic yards, making it hard to compare prices. I am going to try to write an article to solve that mystery.


Most places I ordered in the past used cubic yards (or just “yards” as it is known) to measure quantity. It is nothing more than:

  • Multiplying length (feet) x width (feet) to calculate the area;
  • Multiplying the area by depth (feet) to calculate the total volume in cubic feet (CF);
  • Dividing the total volume (CF) by 27 to convert it to cubic yards;
EXAMPLE: Calculate the cubic yards of mulch needed for a play area that is 10 feet wide, 30 feet long and 6 inches deep.
  1. 10 x 30 = 300 sq feet
  2. 300 sq ft x 0.5 ft (*) = 150 CF
  3. 150 CF / 27 =
  4. 5.56 CY

* 6 inches x 1 ft / 12 inches = 0.5 ft


What if a place quotes bulk material prices in tons?

Although you can use a conversion factor (1 cu yd = 1.3 ton) sometimes, it would be better to use the actual conversion factor that is tied to specific materials like:

  • Earth, loam, dry, excavated
  • Earth, moist, excavated
  • Earth, wet, excavated
  • Earth, dense
  • Earth, soft loose mud
  • Earth, packed
  • Earth, Fullers, raw
  • Gravel, loose, dry
  • Gravel, w/sand, natural
  • Gravel, dry 1/4 to 2 inch
  • Gravel, wet 1/4 to 2 inch
  • Sand, wet
  • Sand, wet, packed
  • Sand, dry
  • Sand, loose
  • Sand, rammed
  • Sand, water filled
  • Sand w/ Gravel, dry
  • Sand w/ Gravel, wet
  • Sandstone, solid
  • etc.

For example, moist, excavated earth has a density of 90 pounds/cubic foot. If you received a price quote for 1 ton of this dirt/soil, you can convert into cubic yards by using the method below:

  • 1 ton = 2000 pounds
  • 2000 pounds / 90 pounds per cubic foot = 22.22 cubic foot
  • 20 cubic foot / 27 = 0.82 cubic yard

So 1 ton of moist, excavated earth soil equals roughly 4/5 cubic yard.


It took me awhile to get a good handle on conversing with people in terms of yards or tons of bulk quantity so read, read and re-read!

You might also want to checkout my “How to Verify The Quantity of Your Just Delivered Bulk Landscaping Materials” article after you receive your bulk landscaping materials.

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Thanks and good luck!