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How Much Sand, Loam, Soil, Mulch, Gravel, Aggregate or Other Bulk Materials Do I Need?

DIY landscaping with bulk material, mulch, sand, loam, gravel

Download an automatic calculator (you must have Microsoft Excel)

Download Bulk Material Calculator right click - save as

As part of a home improvement, remodel, renovation, gardening or landscape project there may come a time when you need to buy materials such as sand, loam, soil, mulch (Figure 1) or gravel in bulk.

mulch pile
Figure 1 - Mulch pile

As well, there are times that you need to know how many cubic feet of material you will need to complete a job, as many manufacturers and packagers of material will state that a bag has a certain quantity of cubic feet of material in it.

This is especially common in landscape and gardening. Most garden nurseries and landscape centers will sell and deliver bulk materials by the cubic yard.

Calculating how many cubic yards of material you may need can be confusing to say the least and an error can be costly.

The formulas for calculating the volume of a square or rectangle and a circle are:

Square or Rectangle: Length x Width x Height = Cubic

Circle: 3.14 x Radius x Radius x Height = Cubic

All numbers must be in the same units, inches or feet.

When entering values in feet remember that 6″ is not 0.6 of a foot, it is 0.5 of a foot.

As an example, a measurement of 10 feet 3 inches would be entered as 10.25 feet, as 3″ is a 0.25 of a foot. A measurement of 6 feet 9 inches would be entered as 6.75 feet as 9″ is 0.75 of a foot.

If you used inches in your calculation:

  • to convert to cubic feet, divide by 1,728,
  • to convert to cubic yards, divide by 66,656.

If you used feet in your calculation: to convert to cubic yards, divide by 27.

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