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When does a gardener buy bulk soil? When no other options exist. Lets say you just moved, it is already early spring, and the only good garden spot on your property is rock hard clay or gravel. In this case it makes sense to order a few dump truck loads of good soil. Maybe you just want to build up the soil level in your garden by a few inches - ordering good soil is important.

Expensive? Not really. Depending on your location, the average price for top quality soil should not exceed $30 a cubic yard, with an average price of about $15 to $22 a cubic yard. If you have a 50 x 20 foot garden, the cost to cover this area with 9 inches of soil would be roughly $550 at $20 a yard. No rototilling and you can start planting right away!

So how do you know where to buy and what to buy? You would be best to use a soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 (good for most plants, but you should have an idea of what you want to plant and the optimal pH) with lots of organic matter. The best way to locate a good source is other gardeners and nurseries in your community. Good soil producers are usually well known in any given community, so you are best to start by asking the people who know best - fellow gardeners and professionals.

I would personally recommend talking to at least 5 nurseries and 4 or 5 gardeners before deciding on who to buy from. If 7 out 10 recommend one particular supplier, it is probably a good bet the soil will be good.

Select Your Mix: Once you have sourced out a good supplier. It is just a matter of deciding exactly how you want your soil mixed. Yes mixed. Most soil suppliers can mix sand, peat or other components into your soil at specified percentages. Check with your supplier to find out what options they offer and the costs. Make sure you buy screened soil, which has roots, rocks, and other naturally occurring debris removed.

Delivery: After deciding on the mix and settled on a price (make sure delivery cost are included), it is time to arrange a delivery date. This is critical! Check your local weather forecast and try to arrange delivery when weather is expected to be good and it has not been raining for at least a few days prior. Why? Chances are your garden will be in the backyard and if the delivery truck must cross your lawn, you do not want the ground wet or moist - a fully loaded dump truck is very heavy and may leave deep tracks in your yard (expect some compression even in dry weather). If you can avoid travel over your lawn - even better. You will also want to distribute your soil as soon as you can in dry weather. A pile of topsoil left for even a few days will begin to compact under its own weight. If it rains, you will need to have tarps on hand as well - if the weather looks bad on delivery day, it may not hurt to buy a few cheap tarps to cover up.

Word of Caution: Two important things to be aware of, power lines near the dump zone and under ground drainage or sewage pipes. Keep in mind that the dump truck will have to raise its box completely to empty the load of soil. Be sure to select a dumping area where power lines are not a hazard. If the dump truck must cross your property, you will want to avoid travel over buried sewage or drainage lines - soil compression could crush these (it is not likely - just possible).

If any of the above are a serious concern, ask your supplier if they have smaller delivery trucks. You may pay more for the extra delivery trips, but you reduce the chance of damage to your property or equipment. Alternately, Soil can be dumped on a driveway and hauled over with a garden tractor or wheel barrow - this is heavy work and may not be an option if you are building a large garden.


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