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12 Money-Saving Landscaping Tips

Determine Your Materials

When buying sand, soil, rocks, mulch, and other loose landscaping materials, it can be hard to estimate how much you'll need for a project. Materials may be sold by volume (cubic feet or cubic yards) or by weight (tons). A ton (2,000 pounds) of anything may seem like a lot, but if it's a dense, compact material, such as sand or soil, a ton might not cover as much as you think -- particularly if you are spreading it to a depth of a few inches. Keep in mind that a ton of dirt, sand, or gravel will fill up less than a cubic yard (27 cubic feet; a space 3 feet long, 3 feet wide, and 3 feet deep). Here are some other helpful guidelines:

  • A cubic yard of soil, compost, or mulch fills about this much space: 320 square feet to a depth of 1 inch; 160 square feet to a depth of 2 inches: 110 square feet to a depth of 3 inches; 80 square feet to a depth of 4 inches.
  • A cubic yard of soil weighs more than 2,000 pounds; a cub yard of sand or gravel weights nearly 3,000 pounds.
  • A ton of 1/4- to 3/4-inch-diameter decorative rock spread 2 inches deep will cover 110 to 120 square feet.
  • A ton of sand or pea gravel spread 2 inches deep will cover 100 to 120 square feet.
  • Most full-size pickups hold 2 to 3 cubic yards of dirt, sand, gravel, or mulch; however, maximum weight capacity may limit you to carrying less. A single-axle dump truck holds 5 to 7 cubic yards of loose-fill material. Larger trucks may hold more than 10 cubic yards.
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