You’ve built some beautiful new raised beds, and now you need to fill them with some soil—how do you figure out how much soil you need? Well, no need to pull out an abacus, we’ve got you covered with our easy-to-use dirt calculator.
How much soil do I need for my raised beds?
It all depends on the height and size of your beds. Plants have surprisingly long roots though, so hopefully, you’ve already built raised beds tall enough to put in at least six inches of soil if it’s open to the native soil, and a foot or higher if it’s closed.
Our handy soil calculator can help you from there! Input the dimensions of your rectangular containers and how many raised beds you have, and the calculator will tell you how much soil you need, in both cubic feet and cubic yards.
This calculator is built for square or rectangular raised beds—if you got creative with your bed shape, you’ll need to do a bit more math.
How much soil do I need for pots and containers?
We are partial to raised bed gardening, but there are lots of reasons you may choose to grow in containers instead—if you have limited space, are renting, aren’t ready to commit to a big raised bed or in-ground garden, or otherwise need more flexibility, for example. Our container soil calculator can help you figure out the right amount of soil for your containers, too! If you have rectangular or square containers, use the raised bed calculator above. For round containers, this calculator will be your star!
This calculator assumes that the edges of your container are straight—if they are slanted, this will be a slight overestimate of how much soil you need. But better to have a little extra soil than not enough!
What is the best soil to use in my raised garden?
It is so important to start with good soil! If you only have a few small raised beds or are exclusively working with containers, you will probably be fine with any purchased organic garden soil and compost from your local garden center. Most of them will already have the appropriate pH level and nutrient balance and should be weed-free.
The difference between soil and dirt comes down to where you find it—dirt is soil that is anywhere it isn’t supposed to be. You have dirt under your fingernails, but soil in your garden beds.
If you need a lot of soil, you may be better off buying soil in bulk or having it delivered. Many places that sell bulk gravel or mulch will also sell garden soil and compost. Before placing your order, be sure to ask:
- What is the percent topsoil, percent compost, and percent sand or other amendments?
- Where did the compost came from and how it was made?
- Where did the soil came from?
- Is the soil screened (AKA: sifted to remove large chunks)?
If you can get your hands on the soil before purchasing, that’s even better. That’ll help you determine if the soil is clay soil, silt soil, or sandy soil.
How much mulch do I need?
Most vegetable and fruit plants benefit from a bed of mulch to aid in moisture retention, suppress weeds, and keep the soil cool. This soil calculator can also be used to figure out how much mulch you need. Put in the width and length of your beds as before, but instead of the soil depth, put down how thick you’d like the layer of mulch to be.