Calculating Bulk Landscape Material Needs – Cubic Yards

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Topsoil, mulch, sand, gravel, or decorative rock. These are all examples of bulk materials that are used in landscape applications. When ordering these materials you want to be as accurate as possible. Order too little or too much and you could end up spending time and money correcting the error. In order to estimate your needs more precisely, take a few minutes to measure the area and calculate your volume requirements. The first thing to understand is the unit of measurement used. Bagged material is typically measured in cubic feet while bulk is measured in cubic yards.

A cubic foot is the volume of material that can fit into a space that is one foot high by one foot wide by one foot deep. Since one yard is equal to three feet, a cubic yard would be three feet high, three feet wide, and three feet deep, or 27 total cubic feet. To get started, you’ll need to calculate how much area you need to cover and to what depth. For square and rectangular shapes you can determine the area by measuring the length and width and then multiplying the two measurements. Next, multiply your result for the total area by the depth you need to fill or cover with material. Since this will likely be a measurement of inches, you will first need to convert those inches into feet by dividing by 12.

For example, let’s say you need to order base for a paver job. You’ve determined that your area is 20 by 60 feet and that you need a depth of six inches, so multiply by 20 by 60 for a total of 1,200 square feet. To convert the six inch depth to feet, divide 6 by 12 for .5 feet. Now, multiply the total square footage of 1,200 by a depth of .5 and you have a total of 600 cubic feet of space you need to fill with base. But, you need to order the material by the cubic yard. Remember, there’s 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard. To make the conversion, divide 600 by 27. This will give you a final total of 22.2 cubic yards of material needed for the job. Be aware that different materials have different compaction rates. If you do plan to compact the material as you would with paver base, you may need to order a little extra to get to the desired depth.

For help calculating the area of other shapes, check out the calculators in the tool section of the Ewing mobile app. Remember, for all of your landscape and irrigation supply needs, stop into your local Ewing branch or visit us online at ewingirrigation.com..

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