Dirt may not be the most glamorous or exciting thing in the world, but it sure keeps us alive! With the right kind of dirt, farmers can grow healthy, nutrient-rich crops for people and livestock to eat or contractors can build solid foundations for buildings and roads.
Not sure which kind of dirt you should choose? No problem. We have customers frequently ask us whether or not the type of dirt they choose really matters. After all, dirt is just dirt, right? The short answer to that questions is NO! Topsoil and fill dirt are sold separately for a reason: they serve completely different needs and functions.
Think about it this way: planting a garden and building a house are very different projects. In the same way, both projects demand different materials — including dirt. This could ultimately mean that you end up being required to re-do all or part of your project, thus costing you a lot more time and money. So what is fill dirt, exactly? Here, dirt does not contain any type of organic matter.
But why would you want that? The main reason is stability. When dirt contains organic matter, it becomes prone to shifting and settling over time. This makes it a perfect place filler. Generally, fill dirt must be cleaned to ensure that no chemicals, toxins, or manufactured byproduct are present. For best results, we suggest that you look for a supplier that offers certified clean fill dirt and that strives to meet local standards and regulations. Now for topsoil. When you think of the bagged dirt that you can buy from a landscaping supplier, topsoil is probably what comes to mind.
This is the healthy, nutrient-rich layer of earth that sits at the very top and consists of a whole lot of organic matter. The best suppliers know that topsoil must contain enough — but not too much — organic matter. If your property has any dips or low points, you know what a pain that can be! For many homeowners, the solution is to simply fill in those points with fill dirt.
The dirt can be packed into the dips and then new grass can be planted or sod can be laid so that the area blends with the remainder of the landscape.
The only way to add that type of dimension and visual interest to a flat landscape is to use fill dirt to build up these areas. The dirt can be strategically placed to create multi-level terraces or to erect rolling hills. As in the case of filling in holes, many homeowners opt to plant grass or lay sod on top of the fill.
Fill dirt might also be used to establish a foundation for roads and driveways. Many NJ homes rely on septic systems, and no septic system is complete without fill dirt.At first glance, fill dirt and fill sand can seem quite a bit alike. Both are naturally occurring materials that are free of organic matter and are comprised of very small particles. Both can also be used in landscaping and construction applications as a means of filling in empty spaces and cavities. Despite these similarities, though, the materials are absolutely not interchangeable.
Each has its own set of advantages and limitations, and understanding these can make or break your project. This type of dirt does not contain any organic matter. This means that the fill dirt will hold its place and continue to serve its purpose for decades.
Fill sand is comprised of the finest particles of rock that have been broken down and eroded throughout the centuries. It is known for being attractive and affordable and for promoting healthy drainage around wet areas. Although sand often receives a very high compaction rating, the material is prone to shifting and displacement.
There are several different types of sand, all of which can be used for differing functions. For our purposes, we will primarily be discussing septic fill and pond fill. Fill dirt is extremely versatile and can be used for a variety of projects.
Think about it: dirt is everywhere! While the nutrient rich, upper layer of earth only extends so deep, fill dirt goes on even further and is extremely abundant.
It is firm and reliable and will create a firm foundation for construction projects and a solid space for filling in voids or building up landscapes. Fill sand is characterized by its extremely fine particle sizes. The minute pieces of sand fit together nicely and create a firm surface. Fill sand is known for its ability to promote healthy drainage and percolation. Any project involving a low spot that needs to be filled in or a landscape that needs to be built up is generally a great candidate for fill dirt.
Fill dirt can also be used in construction projects where a firm, unmoving material is required in constructing a solid foundation for buildings, roads, parking lots, etc. There are two types of fill sand that are usually chosen for backfill work, and they are generally suited for specific projects. Septic sand is designed and manufactured to fill in the areas around septic tanks. Pond fill is used in holding ponds in areas where the water needs to be able to drain out. So which should you choose: fill dirt or fill sand?
As a general rule of thumb, we recommend fill sand in projects that will involve regular exposure to water and moisture with fill dirt being the best option for other project types. If you have any doubts or questions, we suggest that you speak with a trusted professional to discuss your specific project needs. When you need fill dirt or fill sand in NJ, Braen Stone should be the first name that comes to mind.
We offer wholesale pricing every day so that you can take care of your project needs without breaking the bank.Fill dirt is the material used to fill holes and low areas or build up ground elevation on construction sites. Fill can consist of any material — sand, clay, gravel, and so on. Fill dirt is commonly made of subsoil, which is found about 12 inches below the topsoil.
It consists of partially broken down soil that contains clay, sand, silt, and stones, and any other materials found in the source ground. If the fill dirt comes from the subsurface of old farm fields or from woodlands, it will contain whatever materials are there. It may contain some organic material. Its inorganic qualities make it ideal as fill because it does not decompose and settle like organic soils are prone to do.
Because fill dirt provides a solid base, it is desirable for a variety of building projects. It is used for building permanent structures, paved roads, sidewalks, and hardscapes, and for filling low areas and correcting drainage. Fill dirt is important to fill in the space around underground utilities and pipelines. In landscaping projects, fill dirt can be used to terrace a steep hillside, create landscaping berms and mounds, small raised plant beds, or eliminate low spots in a yard.
Fill dirt is usually less expensive than topsoil or other types of dirt needed to support landscaping plants. For example, you need certain types of highly organic dirt for gardening, depending on what you may want to grow. However, for building a home or a road bed, you cannot use topsoil or other garden soil because the organic materials will decompose and the surface will sink. This soil also erodes quickly and will not support building structures. For construction projects, you must use rockier, heavier, inorganic fill dirt.
When you are planning a construction project of any kind, you will likely need some type of dirt that is suited for your needs. There are several different types of fill, and they are not interchangeable.
What other types of dirt are commonly used in various projects? Here is a description of some of them:. Fill sand, like fill dirt, is used to fill low areas, but they are very different. Fill sand is made of fine particles of rock that have been broken down and eroded into sand over thousands of years. It is good for improving drainage around wet areas and to fill areas around septic tanks and ponds where drainage is important.
Sand tends to be prone to shifting and displacement, while fill dirt is very stable. Fill sand promotes good drainage and water percolation. When you use fill sand, you need to make sure that it has been properly cleaned of any large debris, toxins, or any other foreign material.
Fill sand is best used in projects that will involve regular exposure to water and moisture, while fill dirt is the best option for building an impermeable and solid construction project base. Rock fill contains big rocks, often larger than a football, to fill in deep openings. You can also use the large rocks to landscape your yard.Picking the wrong soil can lead to costly and dangerous problems.
We cover a lot of ground, so skip ahead if you have a specific question. Fill dirt is a combination of natural materials subsoil, rock, sand, clay, etc. Simply put, fill dirt is any type of dirt that is used to fill in space.
Fill dirt can be used for a lot of things, and some projects require higher quality soil than others. This is why you will see different types of fill for sale, such as clean fill, certified fill, common fill, and backfill, among others.
We explain each of these below. If the subsoil moves, the foundation supporting the building can crack or fail completely. Any old dirt can contain roots, plant nutrients, animal remains, or other types of organic material. Organic material decomposes over time, leading to this issue of shifting soil. The term fill dirt is really a catchall for the many types of dirt on the market, including common fill, clean fill, and septic fill.
Below, we break down each type of fill, including what it is and what it can be used for. Clean fill refers to dirt that is free of materials dangerous to humans, animals, and the environment.
Clean fill does not mean that the dirt is screened and found to be free to debris and organic materials, which is a common misconception.
It simply means the fill dirt is environmentally clean and free of hazardous materials including:. Clean fill is used in projects that need to be environmentally-friendly, such as landscaping.
For example, it can be used to level the ground for a park, as subsoil for flowerbeds, or to fill in holes around the yard. In construction, it can be used to build embankments, shoulders for roads, and parking lots. With so many uses, clean fill dirt is one of the most popular options.
You might see Clean fill referred to as certified fill. This means that it has been tested by an expert e. Common fill is cheap dirt normally dug directly from the ground and delivered without being screened, cleaned, or tested. Because of this, it usually contains a lot of clay, as well as rock and plant roots, making it difficult to work with by hand.
What is common fill dirt used for? Common fill is inexpensive to buy and sometimes offered for free by construction companies digging up grounds for projects. What is screened fill used for? For example, imagine you have a hole in your backyard that you want to fill in for a lawn or garden.
You can easily shovel and spread screened dirt to fill the hole, and then cover with topsoil. The screened fill would provide a strong subsoil base, and the topsoil would provide the nutrients required to grow a lawn or build a garden. Select fill is dirt that is first screened to remove large debris and organic material and then tested by a soil engineer to be sure it meets the requirements of a specific project. The fill itself is usually a combination of clay and gravel because these strong materials are less likely to shift over time.
What is select fill used for? Select fill is normally the most expensive type of fill because of the process that goes into creating it and testing its quality. Topsoil is a mixture of compost and sand that contains the nutrients necessary for growing things. You do not want to add a layer of topsoil to fill dirt and call it a day. Fill dirt has many purposes and can be made from a lot of different materials, which is why you might see other names for it.
Below, we define the many other terms for fill dirt used by companies around the country:. Now that you know the different types of fill, you might be wondering where all of this dirt comes from. The obvious answer is that fill dirt comes from the ground.Kayar Sprang has been a professional freelance writer and researcher since Sprang specializes in subjects she has expertise in, including gardening and home improvement.
She lives on and maintains a multi-acre farm. Before you have fill dirt hauled onto your property, determine the type you need. That way, you'll know exactly what to order. Although many types of dirt are clumped under the classification of "fill dirt," they're not all the same. Some dirt is only good for filling in holes and low spots, while other dirt is suitable for landscaping. You can easily learn to identify the five types of fill dirt.
Order organic, clean topsoil, or "topsoil," and you'll get the best type of fill dirt. Because it contains nutrients, you can plant grass and plants in it.
Topsoil works well when you need a shallow layer of dirt to fill in low spots. You can identify it because it contains few, if any, rocks or other debris. Organic, clean topsoil is easily spread and leveled with a garden rake because of its purity. Choose inorganic, clean fill dirt if you need to fill in deep holes, level out low spots or build-up your yard.
This dirt is classified as "clean" because it contains no large rocks or other debris. Inorganic, clean fill dirt may contain a small amount of debris like stones and roots. It isn't suitable for growing grass or plants.
Ask specific questions about sand, gravel and small rocks so you know what you'll be getting. This type of fill dirt is usually taken from sites that have been blasted, so it can widely vary.
This fill dirt is suitable for general fill-ins around your yard. The gravel and rocks can be useful for landscaping projects. Sand, gravel and small rocks don't sustain plant life. Choose rock fill dirt if you need big rocks to fill in deep openings or to landscape your yard.
You can easily identify rocks, which come from blast sites or deep excavation sites, because they are usually bigger than a football. They are also suitable for building structures such as walls. To grow grass or plants, you'll need to put organic clean topsoil over this type of fill dirt.Whether working on a landscaping project or constructing a retaining wall from scratch, the type of fill material you use can help ensure that it remains standing for many years to come.
One of the most common types of backfill material is coarse-grained soil. Such material often consists of sandy soil types, gravel soils, or a mixture of both gravel and sand. Another common type of fill material is crushed rock or stone.
Rock and crushed stone are also frequently used in the construction of driveways, as a compacted base. Although not ideal for areas in need of drainage, fine-grained soil is another popular type of fill material used in construction. Slag and ash are both lightweight backfill materials that can be used in a variety of different scenarios; they can also be mixed with clay to form a highly plastic fill material. Selecting the right type of backfill material can often be complicated, which is why the professionals from Manchester Aggregate Supply are always available to help you find a solution.
They also specialize in traprock and recycled concrete, so to learn more about their services, call them today at Send a Tweet Share on Facebook. Manchester Aggregate Supply. ManchesterCT Coarse-Grained Soil One of the most common types of backfill material is coarse-grained soil.
Rock Another common type of fill material is crushed rock or stone. Fine-Grained Soil Although not ideal for areas in need of drainage, fine-grained soil is another popular type of fill material used in construction. Share Story. An Introduction to Microsilica in Concrete. Concrete is comprised of water, cement powder, and construction aggregates like sand or gravel. However, decorative concrete is quickly becoming a popular c One of the most popular construction aggregates builders use is ready-mix concrete.
Rather than mixing the fill material on the job site, an aggregate distributor brings the solution Concrete provides the foundation for most construction projects.Soil composition is a product of the underlying geology and climatic conditions.
Different Types of Fill Dirt Near Me
In the process of a building home, road or building, topsoil is always removed from the site so the structure's foundation will rest on stable subsoil. Large quantities of subsoil may need to be removed as well, and that subsoil often ends up at a landscape supply yard, where it is sold as fill dirt. The composition of fill dirt depends entirely on the site from which it came. Knowing the basic properties of soil types helps to determine whether or not a particular batch of fill dirt is suitable for a certain use.
Performing a shake test of fill dirt can determine its kind. The test begins with filling about two-thirds of a clear-glass jar with water and adding 1 teaspoon of dish soap to the water. Add a sample of the fill dirt to the jar until it pushes the jar's water level to within 1 inch of the jar's top.
After screwing the lid onto the jar, shake the jar vigorously for about 30 seconds. Set the jar on a table, and let its soil settle. All sand in the fill dirt sample falls to the jar's bottom immediately, forming a distinct layer. Silt settles out within two minutes, although true subsoil contains little to no silt. Clay particles may take from one day to one week to settle completely.
When the jar's water is completely clear, the type of fill dirt can be determined from the proportions of different soil particles in the jar. Clay is the top layer in the jar. The best topsoil contains only 10 to 20 percent clay, although much higher proportions of clay are common in subsoil. Clay is important for the water- and nutrient-holding capacity of soil, but an excessive concentration of clay limits water drainage and plant root growth.
Fill dirt containing more than 50 percent clay is useful as a base for pathways and garden structures, such as sheds and gazebos. It should be avoided for filling planting areas, however, unless at least 2 feet of well-drained topsoil is placed on top of the fill dirt. Sand is the bottom layer that settled in the jar. Sand allows the free passage of roots and water, but nutrients leach through it readily. Fill dirt with more than a 50 percent sand content is considered perfect for filling areas intended for plants.
Topsoil needs to be added to provide nutrients for plants but not for drainage purposes; 6 to 12 inches of topsoil is sufficient. Sandy fill dirt is suitable for filling areas to make a sloped yard more level and for raising the grade in low-lying areas to improve drainage.
Fill dirt is much easier to work with when it has been screened to remove rocks, roots and other debris. Screened fill dirt costs more than non-screened fill dirt at landscape supply yards but is usually a worthwhile investment; a lot of undesirable material, including trash, can be in fill dirt from construction sites. Plus, screening breaks up heavy clods of clay in fill dirt, giving the product a more uniform consistency than non-screened fill dirt. Brian Barth works in the fields of landscape architecture and urban planning and is co-founder of Urban Agriculture, Inc.
His blog, Food for Thought, explores the themes of land use, urban agriculture, and environmental literacy. Skip to main content. Home Guides Garden Gardening. Home Guides Garden Gardening Soil composition is a product of the underlying geology and climatic conditions. The Shake Test Performing a shake test of fill dirt can determine its kind.
How to Identify Types of Fill Dirt
Clay Clay is the top layer in the jar. Sand Sand is the bottom layer that settled in the jar. Screened Fill Dirt Fill dirt is much easier to work with when it has been screened to remove rocks, roots and other debris. Thomas: Physical Properties of Soil. About the Author Brian Barth works in the fields of landscape architecture and urban planning and is co-founder of Urban Agriculture, Inc. Customer Service Newsroom Contacts.