Homesteading, Gardening, and Off-Grid Living

How Much Does a Cubic Yard of Bulk Mulch Weigh?

By: Zac Friedman

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On average, a scoop of mulch weighs 400-800 pounds. A cubic yard of mulch weighs 600-1200 pounds. A bag of mulch weighs 20-50 pounds. The exact weight depends on the type of mulch you’re buying and its water content. A scoop of pea gravel weighs a lot more than a scoop of bark mulch. Wet mulch is heavier than dry mulch.

Mulch is sold by the bag, by the scoop, and by the cubic yard. This guide outlines how much each unit of mulch weighs. I will also list the average weight of different types of mulch. This information might be useful if you’re trying to decide how much mulch you need for your garden or if you need to haul mulch in your vehicle. 

How Much Does a Yard of Mulch Weigh?

What is a Scoop of Mulch?

A scoop is usually ½ cubic yard of mulch. The size of a scoop can vary depending on the location where you source your mulch. Some places, a scoop is ⅔ cubic yard. At some places, a scoop is 1 cubic yard.

How a scoop is measured usually depends on the type of equipment used to load the mulch. Before buying mulch by the scoop, you’ll want to ask how much a scoop is. It is not a standardized measurement. When buying mulch, it’s best to buy it by the yard or by weight so you know exactly how much you’re getting.

There are some other types of scoops that can be used to measure mulch at home. For example, you could use a wheelbarrow, 5 gallon buckets, or a mulch spreader to measure your mulch. Fill the wheelbarrow or mulch spreader up full then spread your mulch to see how much ground one scoop covers. You could also measure by the shovel full or trowel if you’re mulching potted plants, a raised flower bed, or a small garden. 

A scoop of mulch delivered
A scoop of mulch

Different Types of Mulch and How Much They Weigh by the Scoop and Cubic Yard

  • Wood chips- 250-300 pounds per scoop or 500-600 pounds per yard
  • Bark mulch- 250-350 pounds per scoop or 500-700 pounds per yard
  • Pea gravel- 1500 pounds per scoop or 3000 pounds per yard
  • Top soil- 1000-1200 pounds per scoop or 2000-2400 pounds per yard
  • Sand- 1200-1400 pounds per scoop or 2200-2800 pounds per yard
  • Lava rock- 650-750 pounds per scoop or 1300-1500 pounds per yard
  • Compost- 350-700 pounds per scoop or 700-1400 pounds per yard
  • Rubber mulch- around 1200 pounds per scoop or 2400 pounds per yard

It’s important to note that water weight can have a large effect on the weight of mulch. A yard of wood chips that have been sitting out in the rain will weigh much more than a dry yard of wood chips because they soak up quite a bit of moisture. Moisture content plays a big role in mulch weight. The type of wood also plays a role in the weight. Hardwood mulch is usually slightly heavier than softwood mulch because it is more dense.

How Much Mulch Can Your Vehicle Haul?

  • Compact pickup truck (Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, or similar)- These trucks usually have a payload capacity of around 1000-1500 pounds. They can haul around 1 scoop of heavy mulch or 1 yard of lightweight mulch.
  • ½ ton pickup (Ford F-150, Chevy 1500, etc.)- A full-size truck has a payload capacity of 1000-2000 pounds. They can haul around 1-2 scoops of heavy mulch or 2 yards of lightweight mulch.
  • ¾ ton pickup truck (Ford F-250 or similar)- These trucks have a payload capacity of around 3000-4000 pounds. They can haul 1-1.5 yards of heavy mulch or around 2-3 yards of lightweight mulch.
  • 1 ton pickup truck (Ford F-350 or similar)-  These trucks have a payload capacity of around 6000-7500 pounds. They can handle 3-4 yards of heavy mulch or 5-7 yards of lightweight mulch.
  • Standard sedans- Most cars are capable of hauling around 500 pounds. You could carry around ten 50 pound bags of mulch in a regular car. If you do this, be sure the weight is properly distributed. 
  • Vans- Most minivans have a payload capacity of 800-1000 pounds. You could haul 1 yard of lightweight mulch, 1 scoop of heavy mulch, or 10-15 bags of mulch. Cargo vans are rated the same as pickup trucks. There are ½ ton, ¾ ton, and 1 ton models. They have similar payload capacities.  
A pickup truck
An average full-sized pickup truck can haul 1-2 yards of mulch

Hauling Mulch in a Trailer

Trailers come in a wide range of sizes with different payloads. Smaller single-axle trailers without springs can usually handle 1 scoop of heavy mulch or 1 yard of lightweight mulch. A trailer with springs can usually handle 1 yard of heavy mulch or 2 yards of lightweight mulch. 

Heavy duty trailers with multiple axles can handle much more mulch. You might be able to haul 5-10 yards or more. Of course, your two vehicle will need to have sufficient towing capacity to handle the trailer. 

The trailer you use for hauling mulch should have solid sides and a solid bottom so the mulch doesn’t leak while you’re driving. You should also put a tarp over the mulch so it doesn’t blow away while you’re driving. 

Having Mulch Delivered

If you need a lot of mulch for a large property and you don’t have a vehicle that’s capable of hauling, you can have mulch delivered. Every company that sells mulch in bulk offers delivery. They will send a dump truck to your home and leave the mulch in a pile wherever you want it. 

Mulch delivery can cost anywhere from $50-$200 depending on how much mulch you order and how far away you live. On average, expect to spend around $150 for delivery. If you live more than 10 or so miles away, there may be an extra charge. 

Even if you have a capable vehicle, sometimes getting mulch delivered is still the best option. There are benefits of having mulch delivered. You don’t have to get your vehicle dirty. You don’t cause wear and tear by hauling a heavy load. The delivery people will unload the mulch for you. You don’t have to unload it yourself. It is also convenient and saves you time. Of course, the cost is the biggest drawback. 

Some delivery companies have a minimum delivery size. Usually, the minimum is 1 scoop. Sometimes the minimum is one full yard. If you need less than 1 scoop, you’ll have to haul it yourself. In this case, you’re usually better off buying mulch by the bag and hauling it in your car. 

The cost of delivery does not include installation. The delivery people will just unload the mulch in a pile. Most companies offer installation as well or they can refer someone to you if you don’t want to install the mulch yourself. Professional mulch installation can cost anywhere from $50-$400 per cubic yard, depending on where you live. On average, expect to spend around $150 per cubic yard.

wood chips

Buying Mulch by the Bag

Most bags of mulch contain 2 cubic feet of material and weigh 20-25 pounds. You can find bags that range in size from 1.5-3 cubic feet, weighing anywhere from 20-50 pounds. The weight of bagged mulch varies depending on the type of mulch and the water content. If the bags were sitting out in the rain, they may have soaked up some water weight. 

One yard of mulch is 27 cubic feet. That means 13.5 bags that contain 2 cubic feet of mulch each equals one yard. 13.5 bags of bark mulch or wood chips will weigh around 300-500 pounds, on average. 

If you have a small to medium-sized garden to cover, buying mulch by the bag can be a good option. The big bags are easy to handle. You can haul them in the trunk of a car or the back of an SUV and they won’t make a big mess. They’re easy to load and unload. 

You can also buy larger quantities of mulch by the bag by buying a pallet. A pallet contains 65-70 bags. It’s usually cheaper to buy in bulk and have mulch delivered rather than buying a pallet.

How Much Mulch Do You Need?

Before buying mulch, you’ll need to determine roughly how much you need to buy. The exact amount of mulch you’ll need depends on the size of the area you’re mulching, the type of mulch you’re using, and how thick you want your mulch. 

Some mulches go further than others. This is because some mulches are less dense than others. For example, bark nuggets are less dense than triple shredded wood. A yard of bark nuggets will cover more ground than a yard of triple-shredded wood.

Of course, you’ll also need to consider the thickness. If you already have mulch and you just need to add a fresh layer on top, you may only need to apply 1-2”. If you’re starting from bare soil, you might need to add 4” of mulch. 

Pine bark mulch
Pine bark mulch

Mulch Depth and Coverage

On average, 1 yard of mulch will cover:

  • 1” deep- 320 square feet
  • 2” deep- 160 square feet
  • 3” deep- 100 square feet
  • 4” deep- 80 square feet

Generally, it’s best not to lay mulch thicker than 4 inches of depth. 

How to Determine How Much Mulch You Need: Measuring Square Footage

To determine how much mulch you need, start by measuring the surface area of the garden beds that you want to mulch in square feet. Use a tape measure to measure the length and width of the area that you plan to mulch.

For example, if you’re vegetable garden is 20 feet long by 10 feet wide, you’ll have 200 square feet to cover (20 x 10 = 200). Next, decide how deep you want your mulch. Ideally, mulch should be around 2-4” deep. 

Now, use the above table to determine how much mulch you need. For example, if you have 200 square feet of garden to cover and you want your mulch to be 3” deep, you’ll need 2 cubic yards of mulch (1 yard will cover 100 square feet at 3” of depth). 

Of course, these are all averages. It’s a good idea to over-order slightly so you know you’ll have enough. If you order too much material, you can save it for later or use it somewhere else in your garden. 

You can also use this mulch calculator to help you determine how much mulch you need. 

Where to Buy Mulch by the Scoop or Yard

  • Garden centers- Every garden center sells mulch by the bag. They usually carry a small selection of wood and bark mulches as well as manure. Sometimes they may carry bales of straw or pine straw. Larger ones may sell bulk material. 
  • Landscape supply stores- These places sell bulk mulch and bagged mulch. They are the best option if you need a large amount of mulch. They can sell it to you by the ton. 
  • Nurseries- Nurseries usually sell mulch in bulk. They will deliver it to your home. They usually sell bagged mulch as well. 
  • Home improvement stores- Businesses like Lowe’s and Home Depot sell mulch in plastic bags. They also sell mulch online that you can have delivered. Big box stores like Walmart also sell mulch by the bag. 
  • Online stores- You can buy mulch online and have it shipped to your home. Pretty much every type of mulch is available. This is a good option if you just need a small amount of mulch or if you need a specific type of mulch that you can’t find locally. Shipping can get expensive because mulch is heavy. 

How Much Does Mulch Cost?

The cost of the mulch depends on the type of mulch you order and where you live. Mulch can cost anywhere from $50-$200 per yard.

When you buy mulch, don’t forget to factor in the cost of delivery and installation if you don’t want to install it yourself. The delivery charge is usually around $100-$150 and installation costs around the same per cubic yard.

Final Thoughts

I usually have mulch delivered every other year. In the past, I used to haul mulch myself every year. I realized that the delivery fee was pretty low where I buy my mulch so I just started having it delivered. This way, I don’t have to put wear and tear on my truck, I don’t have to unload it myself, and I don’t have to clean out the truck bed. I had two yards delivered last year. My favorite type of mulch for my flower beds is cedar mulch. I also like pine bark mulch.

Mulch is heavy to haul. 1 scoop weighs around 400-800 pounds. 1 cubic yard weighs around 600-1000 pounds. Bark and wood chips are on the lighter side. Rock, soil, and sand are heavier. Mulch is also sold in 20 and 50 pound bags. This is convenient if you just need a little mulch or if you’re hauling it in a car. 

Mulch is great for your garden. It can help with weed control, soil temperature regulation, moisture retention, and erosion reduction. Mulch also acts as a food source for your plants as it breaks down. Organic mulch provides lots of valuable nutrients. Mulching can help with plant growth. 

Do you haul your own mulch? Share your experience in the comments below!

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How Much Does a Yard of Mulch Weigh?

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