A lot of us are avid gardeners, and take great pride in the upkeep and appearance of our home’s green spaces. If you find yourself considering a major garden overhaul, your local hardware store or garden depot may not be able to help you with all your bulk soil needs. This short read will help you navigate how to bulk purchase your garden’s soil needs.

Know your soil products

Using bulk topsoil

Most gardening and landscaping projects revolve around the use of soil and soil products. There are three main soil products that are used, and each of them has its own function and application.

Topsoil

The most productive layer of the soil in your garden is the top two to eight inches, and this layer is called the topsoil. It is a healthy mixture of organic materials, minerals, and nutrients.  Topsoil is used to top off plant beds.

Compost

Decaying plant or animal matter is turned into nutrient-rich soil and is called compost. It is used as a soil amendment or fertilizer to improve the fertility of the topsoil or any other soil. It also allows for better drainage of clay soil, and when added to sandy soil, helps it retain nutrients better.

Mulch

Mulch can be made out of yard waste, wood chips, straw, and sawdust, among other things. Also, it not only makes garden beds look better, but it also helps with stopping the spread of weed and with retaining moisture during the summer as well as providing insulation during the winter months.

Read more: Lawn aeration costs

Buying tips

Here are some handy tips for you to keep in mind when buying your bulk topsoil products.

Source locally

Local gardening stores and the people at your local cooperative extension are likely to know more about what kind of gardening soil and supplements you need than big brands do. 

Since cooperative extensions are an educational resource on local agriculture and horticulture, they will definitely not only know what your garden needs, but also what you will be able to source high-quality products locally and at what prices.

Another priceless resource easily available to you is the experience and knowledge of other avid gardeners and hobbyists in your neighborhood.

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Check the products

Be sure to check the products before you buy. Most soil companies will also allow you to custom blend your own soil, such as 60% topsoil and 40% compost, at an extra charge.

If you’re buying garden bulk topsoil, sandy loam ought to be your go-to choice, with at least 5% organic matter and less than 15% clay. The soil should be crumbly, moderately moist, and should feel loose while being dark in color.

Soil testing

Although this might cost as much as $100, it would be advisable to test the health of your garden’s soil before you begin your project. 

Soil characteristics

Here are some soil characteristics for you to keep in mind while buying topsoil. 

Ideally, the pH level should be between 5.5 and 7.5. You also should know what the percentage of compost mixed is, and what kind of compost it is.

For example, while yard and leaf compost is neutral in nature and can be universally used, manure compost has a high composition of nitrogen and may not be ideal for all types of plants.

Gardening bulk topsoil is mostly a mix of sand. Clay, silt, and loam. The texture of the soil is very important. If the amount of clay in the soil is higher than 40%, it can clump up and create drainage problems. If the amount of sand is more than 70%, the water you use to irrigate your garden will run too quickly through the soil.

Another handy tip is to make sure the soil you’re buying is 98% weed-free, so you don’t have to spend more time and effort weeding your garden out regularly.

Delivery fees

While how much you pay for bulk topsoil, compost or mulch will depend on the type you’re buying, where you live and other factors, keep in mind that unless you have a flatbed truck to transport your bulk order of gardening soil, you will need to pay the soil company a flat fee for delivering your order to your home.

How much soil do you need?

how much bulk topsoil you need

While you will be buying in bulk, you still need to know how much soil you will need. Here’s how you can calculate that using the depth of soil calculation chart below.

Coverage depth (inches) Square feet / Cubic yard
1324
2162
3108
481
565
654
746
840

The formula you need to use is simple. Measure the square footage that needs to be covered, and then decide how deep you want your soil or mulch. Once that has been decided, look up the corresponding square feet/cubic yard on the chart. Divide that by the number of square feet, and you know how many cubic yards of soil/mulch you need to order.

For example, if you have a 600 square foot space that needs to be covered up to 8 inches deep with topsoil, you will need to divide 600 by 40, after consulting the table. You will need to order 15 cubic feet of topsoil.

Bulk topsoil, compost, and mulch purchasing was last modified: January 24th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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