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FAQ Category: general

What is a cubic yard? How does it differ from a ton of landscape material?

If you want a visual of what a cubic yard is….it is a 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft cube.

graphic showing 1 cubic yard with an adult reference

A cubic yard is VOLUME. When you are laying down landscape material, you should always measure the area you want to cover. Length x Width x Depth. This will give you the VOLUME of material needed. No matter which material you order (gravel, sand, soil, mulch, etc) for your project, it will be the same amount every time. If you order by tonnage, it will vary immensely between products.

Let’s say you’re creating a path way and you are trying to decide between laying a 3/4″ gravel down or you might decide to use one of the pathway chats or decomposed granite. If you order in volume (cubic yards) by what you need, it doesn’t matter if you change your mind and decide to do gravel, mulch, soil, sand, etc, because it is the same amount every time. On the other hand, ordering by tons and changing your mind can leave you short.

For example, you initially order 8 tons of 3/4″ standard construction gravel for your walkway because that’s what you figured or were told needed. Our 3/4″ standard construction gravel weighs 1.25 tons per yard. If you order 8 tons of that particular gravel, you have approximately 6.4 yards. You then speak with your significant other that they don’t like that product. You decide to order pathway chat and call back and order 8 tons of that product. You will now end up with a shortage of product because pathway chat is significantly heavier and will only give you 5.33 yards for that same 8 tons. That is why at Rock N Yard Landscape Center, we recommend to ALWAYS use a calculator and figure what you need in VOLUME which is cubic yards.

We have a recommended depth under each of our products and an online calculator to get you precisely what you need. Remember, just like any other home improvement project, you should slightly overestimate what you need by about 10%.