How Much Soil or Mulch Do I Need For My Landscaping Project?

Gardening season is in full swing as evidenced by all the requests for soil and mulch we receive from our Harvest Power website. As part of these requests we get a common question: How much do I need? We thought it would be helpful to walk through a few real-world examples.

First, some background info on calculations and products.

  • To know the root of calculations, there are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard (3’ x 3’ x 3’), the common measurement for selling soil and mulch.
  • To get a sense of volumes, a full-size pickup truck holds about 2 cubic yards. A volkswagon beetle is roughly the same volume as 15 cubic yards.

Next, let’s walk through a few real-world examples and calculate how much material is needed for a project.

NOTE: If you want to skip learning the math, then head straight over to our landscape calculator.

raised beds tallEXAMPLE #1: We need soil for two 8′ x 4′ x 18″ raised beds. ~BD in Windsor Locks, CT

Okay, BD. Let’s figure this out. So first let’s pretend these two raised beds are stretched end-to-end. They would measure 16’ long x 4’ wide and 18” tall. Now let’s go through the steps

  • Convert all dimensions into feet (18” ÷ 12” = 1.5’)
  • Multiply length x width x height (16’ x 4’ x 1.5’ = 96 cubic feet)
  • Divide (96 ÷ 27 = 3.56 cubic yards)

Therefore, you’ll need about 3.5 cubic yards of garden blend for this project. We recommend rounding up to 4 cubic yards since you can almost always use more product top-dressing your lawn, the raised beds, or mixed into potting containers.

EXAMPLE #2: “How much mulch do I need to cover a 20’ x 30’ new garden with 3” of soil amendment?” ~NM in Surrey, BC

  1. Convert all dimensions from inches into feet. (3” ÷ 12” = .25 feet)
  2. Multiply the three dimensions together (length x width x height) to find the number of cubic feet needed. (20’ long x 30’ wide x 0.25’ high = 150 cubic feet)
  3. Divide the cubic feet by the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard (27) to find the number of cubic yards (150 ÷ 27 = 5.56 cubic yards)

There you go, NM: You will need about 5-6 cubic yards for your project!

EXAMPLE #3: I’m covering my front- and back- landscape with 2” of mulch. The area is about 20’ x 10’. I want to know how much product I’ll need in bags since I don’t have a pickup truck or trailer, and I think it might be easier to pick up a bunch of product in my car and then carry them throughout the property instead of dealing with a wheelbarrow. ~KH in Virginia

Okay, KH. Here we go, with a modified step to convert to bags.

  • Convert all dimensions into feet (2” ÷ 12” = 0.16’)
  • Multiply length x width x height (20’ x 10’ x 0.16’ = 33 cubic feet)
  • FOR CUBIC YARDS, we’d divide (33 ÷ 27 = 1.23 cubic yards). BUT INSTEAD we want to find out how many bags of mulch KH needs. So if she wants 1-cubic foot bags she’ll need to divide by 1 (33 ÷ 1 = 33 1-cubic foot bags). If she wants 2-cubic-foot bags she’ll need to divide by 2 (33 ÷ 2 = 17 2-cubic-foot bags).

how much do i need? landscape calculator screenshot of case studyVoila, our landscape calculator comes to the same conclusions (see screenshot).

Feeling inspired?

Hopefully this post helps you get a feel for dimensions and how much product you’ll need for your next landscaping project. We offer many quality soil and mulch products in bulk and bagged quantities. Or simply head on over to our contact page to request a quote.

Happy landscaping!

How Much Do I Need - For Pinterest



83 replies
  1. Linda Tucker
    Linda Tucker says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this guide on calculating the amount of soil or mulch your yard needs. I am actually in the middle of a huge landscaping project which involves replacing a lot of grass with some soil. However, that also means that I need to calculate how much replacement material I’ll need, which is why I am here. Since the scale of the project is pretty massive, I might have to have someone transport the material for me, especially if a truck can only hold about 2 cubic yards of soil!

  2. Pete
    Pete says:

    Thank you for posting this article on calculating soil and/or mulch for a landscaping project. When buying in bulk and hauling it yourself, it is nice to have an idea of how much is needed. Thanks for the information.

  3. Vince
    Vince says:

    Thank you very much for posting this great article. This article has just helped me as I work on a lot of projects involving landscaping. Calculating soil and mulch can be sometimes a lot harder when you don’t know what you’re doing.

    Again thanks. This helps a lot.

  4. DJ
    DJ says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’m working on a raised bed on the side of my house for some organic veggies. This is exactly the information I was looking for. Thank you very much!

  5. Jim
    Jim says:

    This is perfect! Thank you for this super helpful post.. We’re using this to create our own organic garden in the yard. The math makes sense but using the calculator was even more helpful..
    Thanks again.

  6. Bill
    Bill says:

    Man, this is a really fantastic article about soil needs. I am working on a couple raised beds for my garden project now and this information is invaluable. I love that you took real people’s questons and help relate the information that way. I really appreciate the work and thanks again!

  7. Grant
    Grant says:

    Wow, math was never my strong suit, but this made it way easier for me to figure how much product I need for this next project (I was way off). My wife and I, neither of us being very experienced landscapers, just bought a piece of land and we’re finally going to start the garden we always talked about. We’ll make a bulk order of your 1″ mulch sometime this week, thanks again Meredith!

  8. Rex
    Rex says:

    We thoroughly enjoyed this article because it quantifies how much soil / mulch you need. We immediately started with the landscape calculator which is also a brilliant tool.

  9. Daniel
    Daniel says:

    Amazing and extremely informative article. Thank you so much for posting this! The way you explain and analyze those examples, really helps understand the material needed for each project. I am definitely feeling inspired! Again, thank you!

    • Josh
      Josh says:

      I helped a friend build a few of these in his small backyard, but his dog kept messing them up. I’ll share this with him on how much he actually needs, because he is always unsure. Thanks for the article!

  10. Jim
    Jim says:

    Just following up with this post, I followed the guidelines laid out here for our first raised bed gardens this past summer and my wife and I had a bumper crop. Thank you for the information, we really enjoyed our garden!

  11. Marco
    Marco says:

    Great read! I’m currently working on my first landscaping project and had no idea on how to calculate the amount of soil needed. After reading this article and calculating the exact amount I would need I ended up saving some money since I was originally going to buy way more soil than what I needed for this project. I will definitely be using this formula from now on. Thanks for the information!

  12. Ronnie
    Ronnie says:

    Great article. We just bought a new home and are considering doing the landscaping ourselves. And, we wanna have a little organic garden going on, too. Knowing how to calculate the right amount of soil and mulch helps me figure our the cost. Thank you for example #3!


  13. Mike Pezz
    Mike Pezz says:

    Good information. Thanks for sharing. I basically have now idea when it comes to landscaping, but my wife wants it done and I don’t want to pay for it. This will be really helpful.

  14. Ray
    Ray says:

    Remember as kids the teachers always told us that we would need math but we never believed them! LOL This is an example they could have used. But seriously, this is good information. Too often do we buy too much soil when doing projects. This will help in that regard. Thanks!

  15. James Irving
    James Irving says:

    Awesome article! I’m sharing this with my wife. She’s been wanting to start a garden for years, but just doesn’t know exactly how. Hopefully, this will give her the motivation!

  16. James Irving
    James Irving says:

    Awesome article! I’m sharing this with my wife. She’s been wanting to start a garden for years, but just doesn’t know exactly how. Hopefully, this will give her the motivation!

  17. Julian
    Julian says:

    Thanks for the soil quantity tips, so helpful! I usually buy way too much. I get confused with converting and dealing with cubic yards. You’re examples and steps made it easier to follow.

  18. Mike
    Mike says:

    Found this information at the perfect time! Spring is around the corner, and now I know what to do. Just like Julian, I usually buy too much of anything, lol. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

  19. Matt
    Matt says:

    As a landscaping contractor this is something I will be taking to my crew right away. With spring just a few weeks away we will be using this information all season long. Thanks for your help!!

  20. Earl
    Earl says:

    Hey Harvest Power,

    I came across your article while doing some research for my business, tree service waterbury. We use a lot of mulch for our customers, mainly to insulate the soil and protect the trees from hot and cold temperatures, but also to keep the roots moist because mulch retains water. Sometimes, our customers rather add the mulch themselves. I will pass along this equation as a guide. Thanks again!

  21. Bob Ryan
    Bob Ryan says:

    Awesome resource! I was just going over this with one of my patio design clients the other day and your landscape calculator came in handy.

  22. HB Pools
    HB Pools says:

    We see so many great landscaping set-ups when we service pools. Some homeowners are awesome at knowing what types of landscaping mesh in with their yards and what looks visually pleasing. I can say that those with mulch show very good maintenance.

  23. Phil
    Phil says:

    We’re starting to get more mulch business this season and this is great information that I’ve shared with my guys. Until now we’ve been estimating how much mulch to buy just by the size tree canopy of the when we have customers at our business, Tree Trimming Overland Park wanting us to clean up the base of the tree and lay down mulch. And when we have extra mulch, I can send customers this or text them your calculator. Pretty handy. Thanks!

  24. Justin
    Justin says:

    I have definitely underestimated the amount of soil I needed for a project in the past. It’s no fun making multiple trips and hauling so I appreciate the tips. Thanks for the article.

  25. James Long
    James Long says:

    We’re re-doing our backyard next weekend and while I trust my math, it helps to see conversions written explained the way you have! Helps me double check if I’m off or not. Thanks!

  26. Ivy Baker
    Ivy Baker says:

    This is some really good information about how much soil you need to buy. I have been wanting to make a garden in my backyard soon. But I don’t have good soil for it. I liked that you pointed out that you should use around 4 cubic yards of soil.

    • Meredith Sorensen
      Meredith Sorensen says:

      Glad this was helpful. Not every project will require 4 cubic yards; the quantity you need will depend on the space you are filling.

  27. James
    James says:

    This IS a great article! Been asked this question so many times over the years “how much do I need?” well now I can send them over here. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Nice site by the way.

  28. Maui Roofers
    Maui Roofers says:

    Thanks for breaking it down into simple math, with a clear and concise article. Out here where the ground on our property is mostly lava rock, we gotta bring in lots of soil if we want anything to grow nicely, so referring back to this will help my wife and I out a bunch for our upcoming landscaping and gardening projects.

  29. Revanth
    Revanth says:

    Very joyful post and extremely informative I just stumble upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I am appreciating it very much!

  30. Mighty Green
    Mighty Green says:

    This is extremely helpful information. We just started a project in our backyard and have been trying to figure out how much dirt we will need to fill in the area. I’m glad I came across this article!

  31. Frank
    Frank says:

    Definitely a great breakdown of the calculations you gotta make, to figure out the amount of soil to use for each landscaping project. We’re in the middle of 2 right now! Thanks a bunch.

  32. Drew
    Drew says:

    This really is a great guide! It will save me a lot of time with the projects that I am working on right now! It is very simple and simplicity is what I like haha

  33. James
    James says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for the awesome calculator. I tried doing the math myself and got lost very easily. Love that I could plug in the numbers and it gave me the right quantity. Purchased my soil this weekend to get my back yard ready for next spring.

  34. Sarah G
    Sarah G says:

    I appreciate that you showed how you got the numbers you came up with. It can be hard to accurately estimate the cost or material needed for a project like this and your article has helped me do just that.
    Thanks and great job!
    Sarah G.

  35. Car Detailing Norwalk
    Car Detailing Norwalk says:

    Awesome post. Even as an engineering graduate, I love referring back to MATH whenever a new project calls for it. We (me and my wife) have been tampering with new design and layouts in our yard. We’ve come a long way and thank extensive posts like these. Mulch, of all things, can make or break a design.

  36. David
    David says:

    Great read! I’m currently working on my first landscaping project and had no idea on how to calculate the amount of soil needed. After reading this article and calculating the exact amount I would need I ended up saving some money since I was originally going to buy way more soil than what I needed for this project. I will definitely be using this formula from now on. Thanks for the information!

  37. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting some good soil supplies for my yard, but some tips would be good. I’m glad you mentioned being able to know how much soil you need for different raised beds. I think that being able to calculate how much soil we need would be good, and help us to be able to get what we need!

  38. Landscaping Oshawa
    Landscaping Oshawa says:

    Thank you for this article. I particularly liked the 3 examples you provided to give me different scenarios. Helps me explain it better to my staff who are always ordering too much materials for some of my jobs.

  39. Santa Ana Tree Service
    Santa Ana Tree Service says:

    Awesome reference. I explain to our clients to always think of volume as a rectangular or cube that measures lengths in 3 different directions (pictures help). That helps us calculate volume of mulch, dirt or tree space when installing landscape or hardscape, particularly much and dirt. An X-Y-Z graph always makes it easier. If measuring in feet, ideal, just multiple all sides by a unit in feet and divide by 27 to get yardage.


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