Many products are sold as topsoil but not all contain the structure and nutrients necessary for lawns, gardens or landscaping plants to thrive. Hardware stores and garden centers mostly sell topsoil in bags. For large applications, it is more cost effective to purchase topsoil in bulk from a landscape product supplier or other local source.
Average Cost Per Yard
Some retailers sell topsoil in 40-pound bags, ranging from $2 to $5 per bag. A 40-pound bag contains about three-quarters to 1 cubic foot of topsoil, depending on its moisture content and the type of organic material. There are 27 cubic feet in a cubic yard, so bagged topsoil costs $54 to $180 per cubic yard. At this rate, purchasing topsoil in bags is only suitable for very small areas. For example, to cover 1,000 square feet to a depth of 4 inches for a new garden or lawn, you will need 12 cubic yards of topsoil.
Prices for bulk topsoil vary across the country, ranging from about $18 to $55 per cubic yard, including delivery. The price per cubic yard usually decreases with larger quantities. To calculate the amount of topsoil you need, factor in the planting area and depth of soil you need. When ordering, verify whether the delivery charge is included.
A cubic yard weighs about a ton, so for large areas, you may want to inquire about additional charges for spreading the material.
The term "topsoil" refers to the top several inches of soil, however the term can be loosely used. If you see what looks like a bargain price for topsoil, be sure it is not just fill dirt. When leveling a site for construction, building contractors scrape off the top layers of soil, which may be suitable to use as topsoil but may also contain unwanted debris and be devoid of organic matter.
Topsoil that is more finely screened is more expensive than regular topsoil. You may also be able to find topsoil that is amended with compost or composted manure, especially if you are close to a rural area.