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Question DetailsAsked on 8/11/2015

How many square feet of ground space is typically covered when 15 yards of dirt are dumped from a dump truck?

A retaining wall is being built, and we are looking to bring in 150 cubic yards of fill dirt. I am curious how many square feet of yard space this fill would take up initially. e.g. when dumped, each 15 yard dump truck will "generally" takes 15 x 15 square feet of space. I understand this is very general and will vary on many factors, however, I've found very little useful information anywhere and would appreciate any type of guidance. Thank you.

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Voted Best Answer

Contractor should be able to tell you - also about where he want to put the pile for easiest use, of course with some negotiation to avoid excessive damage to vegetation, drive, etc.

Bit of a geometry problem here - and use of trial and error or a quadratic equation for volume of a flat-topped pyramid.

Depends of course on the exact material type and how "neat" the drivers are in dumping and whether they pile the load as small as feasible or drag it out as they dump - crushed rock stands at close to 45 degree angle when initially dumped 1:1 slope), rounded river gravel more like a 30-40 degree (1.5-2:1) slope. "Dirt - as in topsoil type fill, somewhere between crushed stone and rounded gravel slope and pile sizes

VERY rough numbers - individual 15CY pile, assuming a 15-20CY size truck so probably about 4-5 feet high at dump point, will make a pile the 4.5-5.5 feet high by about 14-20 feet in diameter - smaller end if hydraulic operated tailgate (power open so does not drag top of pile pulling away) or a dump trailer like a MaxHaul (which dumps at up to 5+ feet high), larger number if gravity gate on regular nominal 15-20cy dump truck (which drags over the pile when truck pulls away so flattens the top off and makes the round pile more of a sloping oval). So if done as individual piles, at about 180-300 SF footprint each, or about 1800-3000 square feet for your 15 piles of coarse crushed fill or rounded gravel respectively, or an area about 45-60 feet each way - sand piles maybe about 20% larger pile area than rounded gravel. Or a strip pile about 14-20 feet wide and 140-200 feet long, like if dumping on a driveway to mostly save the lawn.

However - if you have each truck dump as far onto the preceding load as possible, so instead of a bunch of individual piles you end up with a 4-5 foot high more or less flat-topped pyramid, your total area covered might be about 35-50 feet square - a bit smaller; or about 14 feet wide by 150 feet long if done as one continuous strip pile.

Of course, if using that much fill you will have a bobcat or other type loader to handle the material - so the normal thing would be to build the pile about 8-15 feet high as loads are delivered, or to only deliver a couple of loads at a time as the wall progresses. For crushed stone you might end up with a 30' diameter pile about 15-16 feet high if all brought at once, or about 40 foot pile 10 feet high of rounded fill. Of course, the actual disturbed area will have to include the maneuvering room for the tractor, and there will be some push-out on the sides and back end of the pile as he works so actuall disturbed area will be quite a bit more.

A thought - have you double checked your numbers - because assuming this is structural fill for behind the retaining wall, that works out to roughly a 150LF wall 6 feet high or a 50+LF wall 10 feet high, very rough ballpark - that is a LOT of fill for a normal residential job. Or are you "creating" level land ?

My recommendation - generally to avoid lawn damage (assuming grassed now) is to do it on the drive, having the loader operator be careful about scraping the drive much, and doing some handwork at the end to push and broom the last few yards into the bucket rather than backdragging it into a pile to load or scraping along the drive. If you are picky about drive appearance, that is out, and on asphalt will probably call for a recoating of sealer after the job is done to cover up worn areas, scrapes, and black tire marks from the loader.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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