How to Measure for Bulk Materials

May 22, 2021
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In planning any landscaping project, the logistics revolve around obtaining the correct amounts of raw materials. From cost to transportation to timing, all the project’s other variables require accurate orders. JK Enterprise will assist every step of the way, from supplying and delivering bulk supplies to responding to ongoing concerns across the duration of the project. Our website contains helpful tools for helping you plan your landscaping project, including specially-designed material calculators. This article will help fill in the information around measuring and calculating bulk supplies for ordering the right materials the first time.

Measuring for All Bulk Materials

This process starts with getting a sense of the size of the space you want to fill. After developing specific plans drawn to scale, you will need to measure the total volume of the area needing filling. Pro tip: remember that for each unit of material ordered, you will need to dispose of the equivalent amount of dirt, concrete, etc. To calculate the total volume of material you’ll need, measure the length and width of the area. Think of this as the top of the imaginary 3-dimensional shape of material you’ll create. To get the final area, you will have to multiply the product of length and width by depth. 

The depth of your fill depends on what material you will use–stone, mulch, and topsoil have different functions and require different depths to be effective. To start, think about what you’d like to accomplish: is the project a garden, a patio, a sitting area? The answer to this will determine the supplies you will use and the necessary depth of those materials. The rest of this article will help you think through the requirements for different types of bulk materials.


Topsoil is simply the uppermost layer of soil suppliers collect and deliver for garden and landscaping projects. It contains minerals and nutrients critical to the thriving of plant life. The volume of soil depends on the intensity of the project and the depth of the roots of whatever plants you plan to add. For any project, you can amend your soil with new topsoil, revitalizing the nutrient levels without completely replacing the existing dirt. This generally requires 2-3 inches of topsoil. If you do plan to replace the existing soil, you will need to replace around 3-6” for a new lawn and at least 6” of topsoil for a garden. This gives roots the space and food they need to grow to their fullest.

Gravel and Stone

Given the wide variety of possible projects with gravel and stone, the necessary depths vary greatly. Generally, the depth of gravel and stone needed depends on the level of traffic over the area. For areas that don’t expect foot or car traffic like improving drainage or decorating gardens, 2-3” of gravel should suffice. If the purpose of the gravel is to prevent weeds, a greater depth of gravel is needed to prevent sprouts, around 3-5”. Erosion control requires the most gravel, since the purpose is to remove and replace a large amount of sediment. 12” of gravel is required for this purpose. When laying stone, plan at least 4” of depth for foot pathways and driveways for cars should be at least 6” deep. No matter what depth you plan for, recognize that the size of the stones used will affect how deep you will need to dig to place the stones in the ground. Larger stones = deeper fill.


No matter the type of project, getting the measurements of bulk materials right the first time is critical. This will provide the most efficient budget, project timeline, and logistical requirements. While calculating the 2-dimensional area of the intended space is a manageable first step, things get more complicated when translating this figure into a 3-dimensional measure of volume. This measurement depends on the final figure of the equation Volume = Length x Width x Depth, and the depth largely depends on the function of the fill and the type of project. 

We know it gets complicated here. That’s why we recommend checking out our bulk material calculators on our website to simplify things as much as possible. Put in the type of material and the measurements of your space and out pops the volume of supplies needed. When using these tools, it’s useful to visualize the 3-D shape you hope to fill, which will help you factor in complications like sloping surfaces. 

Calculating bulk material quantities is the hard part. After submitting that number in an order, we will quickly respond with a price estimate and make every effort to meet the needs of your specific project and budget. Once you submit the order, you will quickly receive a delivery of your bulk materials to your job site. 

A note on our materials: our topsoil is native to Virginia and contains an ideal mixture of sand, silt and clay screened to 1/2”. We blend our bulk topsoil with Orgrow to increase nutrient levels. The quality of our topsoil will ensure minimal soil compaction and maximum moisture retention, two critical characteristics of successful gardening soil. 

We produce our own mulches, meaning you purchase high-quality products directly from the supplier. We offer mulches by color (red, black, dark brown), size (regular, nugget, double shredded), and type (hardwood, pine, cedar). We encourage you to give us a call to determine the right type of mulch for your specific project. 

Finally, our stone and gravel products are too numerous to detail on this page–head over to our Stone and Gravel product page to explore the different possibilities. As one of the largest suppliers in the area, we carry the widest variety of products at the lowest prices with delivery available to your door. 

Our staff is invested in the success of your project and can talk you through all the steps in ordering bulk landscaping materials, from planning to measuring to implementation. Check out our website to start your research, and give us a call to speak with a knowledgeable representative.