As another landscape season is upon us, I thought a conversation about getting bulk materials delivered to your property would be timely. I decided to write on the topic because I was thinking about a client who called me last year. He was curious how much I would charge to delivery 10 yards of topsoil to his property. Although we have a large dump truck, we don’t look for this type of work. We make deliveries to our friends and clients more as a favor than any thing else. That being said, I do like to see people get what they pay for. My clients ended up getting a price and going with a company who was advertising in the paper. These clients live up the street and I was home at the time of the delivery. When I saw the client a week later, I asked how many deliveries the company had made. When he told me two, I broke it to him that he was ripped off. He couldn’t figure out how I knew that to be the case when I never stopped by the property. I told him it’s basic math and I could make the assessment from my couch. I told him that there is no possible way you can deliver 5 yards of topsoil in a 3 yard dump truck. He was shocked.
I hate to say it but I think the situation above is more common than you would think. It happened to my relatives too. They bought two cords of wood that was delivered in two pickups, another situation that is physically impossible. As a consumer, it’s always a good idea to have a handle on what a yard of bulk material or cord of wood should look like. You’ll never be 100% correct, especially when it is already dumped on your driveway. As a consumer, it would be nice to be able to fend for yourself and not have to take the company’s word, wouldn’t it? As the material is being delivered, take notice of the size of the load based on the size of the truck. If you have a 3 yard dump truck and you’ve purchased 5 yards of material and it’s no where close to the top of the rails, you have a problem. A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet or 4′ x 4′ x 8′ stacked, a yard of bulk material is 27 cubic feet or a pile 3’x3’x3′. Compare that to the back of the truck making the delivery. The average shortbed pickup truck is approx. 65 cubic feet. So if a delivery of firewood arrives in the back of a shortbed pickup and it is tightly stacked to the top of the sides, it can only be a 1/2 cord. In the case of my relatives, the firewood wasn’t even stacked in the pickup, it was just dumped in. That being the case, what the company sold as a cord was probably more like 1/4 to a 1/3 of a cord. A long bed pickup is approx. 80 square feet. To find out how much a truck will hold, multiply length x width x height of the bed ans divide by 27. With a little knowledge, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re getting.