“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” - John Muir
Though the renowned conservationist and outdoorsman never said these words in the context of gardens and landscaping - it turns out there are many types of dirt paths to take and consider in choosing what’s right for your next construction project that we will explain here.
Most people might think of soil and dirt as interchangeable and simply the earth beneath our feet. However, there are key distinctions between the two that you should be knowledgeable of before planning your project:
Dirt: Put simply, ‘dirt’ is a broad term for the loose materials that comprise the upper layer of the earth’s surface that is typically lacking in the organic content necessary for growing things.
Soil: Soil, generally, is the uppermost layer of the earth’s surface that contains the nutrients needed to support life. The composition of soils can vary greatly based on the climate and geography of the region - with each soil type differing in makeups of clay, sand and silt.
Knowing the soil and dirt products available to you can help you determine what your landscape needs most and will make all the difference in taking the right path toward completing a quality project.
What is Fill Dirt / Muck Away?
As far as dirt goes, ‘Fill dirt’ is one of the most inexpensive and commonly used products in all of the construction industry. It is excavated from at least 6 inches deep underneath the fertile soil layer at the surface and can contain rocks, twigs and other debris. Once it is dug up, it can be sifted and screened to remove these objects and particles to produce what is called a ‘Clean Fill’, or simply a ‘Screened Fill Dirt’. As fill dirt’s name suggests, it is typically used to fill holes in the ground - though it can go by other industry names such as ‘Top Fill’, ‘Muck away’, or ‘Back Fill’, to name a few. The absence of organic materials in fill dirt means that it is less likely to shift over time, making it a useful product for many more applications than just filling holes which we will outline next.
Fill Dirt Applications
Whether you are working on building a house, landscape renovation, designing a simple home garden, or yes, filling a hole - you will probably find good use for fill dirt and other fill materials. Remember to first consult an experienced contractor or landscaper before choosing which type of fill material to use for your project.
Backfill, foundations and leveling
‘Backfilling’ is the process of filling an excavated construction site or the area surrounding a foundational structure. Fill dirt packs down well, which makes it well suited for backfilling needs. It can be used to level the ground underneath driveways, roads and concrete foundations, garden beds and more. This can also include building up and securing the ground around foundations and retaining walls for support. Fill dirt can also be used to form berms and to fix water drainage problems that may occur at the perimeter of landscape projects. In the construction of houses and building pads, ‘Select Fill’ is often preferred for levelling and stabilization because of its clay and sand content that ensures it will not shift or settle over time.
Septic systems and wet areas
Many different styles of homes today rely on the use of septic systems. Both fill dirt and ‘Sharp Sand’ are commonly placed above and around septic and water tanks for support. Sharp Sand is typically the product of sand that has been run through crushing machines or that has naturally broken down over time - leaving its rock particles coarse and compactible. It’s compactibility makes it suitable as a base for paving, with the added advantage of not retaining moisture and working well for drainage purposes. sharp sand can also be used to fill pipe trenches or to be placed around ponds and other low-lying wet areas.
Construction projects often start with dirt and setting a good foundation. Get in contact with us today at Gravelbase to set you down the right dirt path in supplying all your dirt needs.