How Much Does Fill Dirt Cost?

When it comes to increasing the value of real property, landscaping is one of the most valuable improvements that any real estate owner can attempt. According to House Hunt, good landscaping can raise property value up to 28%, resulting in as much as 5% in terms of the increment for the sales price. Properties with good landscaping usually get sold 10% to 15% faster compared to others that aren’t subject to this improvement.

It does not come as a complete surprise that there are around 401,473 landscaping businesses in the United States as of 2014, for which a huge 72% of the industry is being directed by small business entrepreneurs. The entire workforce has generated substantial revenue worth $74 billion.

Considering the importance of landscaping, in construction and home improvement, there is one material component that primarily gratifies the structural safety of the outdoor terrain – fill dirt. It is important to understand that fill dirt and top soil are not exchangeable terms given their respective intended purposes.

Fill dirt is strictly designed for the restructuring of terrain fluctuations (re-sloping) as well as strengthening the land area’s base. Top soil, on the other hand, is only intended for gardening and quality drainage control. In essence, fill dirt is priced for its ability to stack itself up as a stable immovable foundation.

Landscaping Average Cost

So, how much does fill dirt cost? It is important to understand that soil is ordinarily put up for market based on per cubic yard volume. The national average cost is estimated to be anywhere between $8 and $18. However, there are other providers across the United States selling around $20 to $30 per cubic yard. A suitable example of a safe median cost is a $19 per cubic yard fill dirt sold by Nature’s Way Resources.

landscaping grapic image

Considering that most landscaping projects entail land area coverage of 1,000 square feet, the cost of fill dirt needed for re-sloping or leveling of terrain is roughly around $985. Take note: it is possible to acquire a substantial volume of fill dirt for free (surplus from newly concluded construction projects). However, handover surplus products seldom promise high-quality standard.

The difference in fill dirt prices is determined by several keys aspects. These factors contribute to the other cost considerations in the general landscaping project:

  • Yard size and damage
  • Specific provider
  • Fill dirt quality
  • Local terrain strength

Other Cost Considerations

As mentioned in the earlier part of the article, there are a number of items to account for the overall expenses in addition to the average cost of fill dirt itself.  One must take note of these following elements that comprise the overall terrain landscaping cost:

Labor costs

The average cost charged by most landscapers is anywhere around $45 to $75 per hour. This rate already covers the preparation, setup, and cleanup following the conclusion of the project. Considering that the usual residential landscaping takes a total of 6 hours, the projected cost could climb up around $270 to $450.

In line with the earlier discussion, the material quality of the fill dirt could affect labor costs. Hard rocky soil takes more time and energy to properly even out. One would either pay for the additional hours of manual re-sloping or hire a backhoe for $60 to $150 per hour. If one should include the cost of clearing vegetation within the average 1,000 square feet yard, this entails an additional cost of $300 to $450.

Erosion control

Newly added fill dirt is especially prone to soil erosion. However, this can be prevented by either installing erosion control structures or introducing plants with deep abundant roots. The former costs $10 per quadrant section while the latter entails $11 per square feet.

Permits and Codes

Deep landscaping projects are subject to specific state codes that govern construction and home improvements. Acquiring permits for re-sloping usually costs around $100 or less. Specific prices may depend on the specific area address (e.g. city, county, or state).

The importance of landscape assessment is primarily hinged on avoiding collateral damage of property boundaries shared between neighbors. Licensed professionals can conduct a comprehensive survey and re-sloping analysis for a cost of $200 to $450.

image of gated local house

Whether or not the homeowner subscribes to this advantage is strictly subject to his or her prerogative. However, a poor understanding of the terrain may run a risk of damaging certain utilities like a water pipe or underground power lines. It costs at least $1,000 to get these vital connections repaired.

5 Tips to Reduce Cost

Although fill dirt prices are usually fixed, the total expenses needed for completing a landscaping project always boils down to smart budgeting. Buying the right amount of right stuff from the right sources is crucial to a cost-efficient and successful financial plan. Braen Stone highlights the following tips on making the most out of the average cost of fill dirt:

  1. Buy directly from manufacturers to acquire ‘legitimately’ lower wholesale prices.
  2. Buy local to avoid additional miscellaneous costs (e.g. interstate logistics cost).
  3. Verify composition to guarantee its intended quality (for filling and not for gardening).
  4. Use the calculator and account for the exact cost, hence avoiding under-budget or excess.
  5. Ask for bulk prices to avoid multiple delivery costs in line to multi-phased landscaping.

Top 10 Cheaper Locations

Knowing where the customer lives is another way for him or her to make the most out of the least expenses, in addition to figuring out the answer to the question ‘how much does fill dirt cost?’ Since a relatively complex landscaping project almost always requires the service of the contractor, one can always benefit from labor costs that are lower than the national average rate. These are the following places in the United States and their equivalent rebates as presented by Fixr:

  • Arlington, Texas: 30% less
  • El Paso, Texas: 28% less
  • Monroe, Georgia: 17% less
  • Rio Rancho, New Mexico: 15% less
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico: 14% less
  • Athens, Georgia: 9% less
  • Aberdeen, Washington: 8% less
  • Erlanger, Kentucky: 5% less
  • Colorado Springs, Utah: 3% less
  • Mesa, Arizona: 2% less

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