Our Mr. Dirt Landscaping Materials Reference Guide will help you better understand the various materials used for different projects. Not all materials identified here are available locally. When you are ready to order landscaping materials, please contact us for ordering and delivery options.
Types of Dirt
Topsoil – Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil, usually the top 2 to 6 inches. Topsoil has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms, and is where plants generally concentrate their roots and obtain most of their nutrients. A variety of soil mixtures are sold commercially as topsoil, usually for use in improving gardens and lawns, or for ideal growing conditions in container gardens.
Fill Dirt – The material called fill dirt, or only fill, typically contains topsoil, but it also contains rocky subsoil and lots of other material in a mixture without a standard composition. Fill raises grades and contours the landscape, but it does not provide a great growing medium for plants. Typically you will add around 4”of topsoil after you have built up an area with fill.
Screened Fill Dirt – Fill dirt is much easier to work with when it has been screened to remove rocks, roots and other debris. Screened fill dirt costs more than non-screened fill dirt at landscape supply yards but is usually a worthwhile investment; a lot of undesirable material, including trash, can be in fill dirt from construction sites. Screening removes the unwanted material and breaks up heavy clods of clay in fill dirt, giving the product a more uniform consistency than non-screened fill dirt.
Types of Sand
Beach Sand – Beach Sand is a fine sand. It can be mixture of white, brown, beige, tan, and gray in color. Beach sand is used for patios, volley ball courts, sandboxes, playgrounds, and creating faux beaches
Utility Sand – Utility Sand is a fine sand. It is usually a mixture of beige, tan, gray, brown, and white. It is used to backfill utility pipes such as water, gas, or electric, and to back fill trenches
Fine Utility Sand – Fine Utility Sand is an extra fine sand. Like utility sand it is used to backfill utility pipes such as water, gas, or electric, and to back fill trenches, but it is also used for horse arenas, and to fill sandbags.
Concrete Sand – Concrete Sand is a coarse sand. It is mixture of beige, tan, gray, brown, and white. Concrete sand is used mainly for mixing with cement, but it may also be used in septic systems.
Mason Sand – Mason Sand is a coarse sand. General mason sand is mixture of beige, tan, gray, brown, and some white in color, but there is specific White Mason Sand. Mason Sand is used for to mix with concrete & mortar for laying blocks, bricks and stone.
White Mason Sand – White Mason Sand is a specific mason sand with specific job application. White Mason Sand is used to mix with concrete & mortar for laying white blocks and bricks to create a white mortar line
Bank Run Sand – Bank Run Sand is a fine to coarse sand. Bank Run Sand is usually used to mix with concrete for fence posts, patios. It is mixture of beige, tan, and gold in color
Types of Gravel
Bank Gravel – gravel intermixed with sand or clayG
Bench Gravel – a bed of gravel located on the side of a valley above the present stream bottom, indicating the former location of the stream bed when it was at a higher level.
Creek Rock – This is generally rounded, semi-polished stones, potentially of a wide range of types, that are dredged or scooped from river beds and creek beds. It is also often used as concrete aggregate and less often as a paving surface.
Crushed Rock – Crushed Rock is mechanically broken into small pieces then sorted by filtering through different size mesh.
Crushed Stone – This is generally Limestone or dolomite that has been crushed and graded by screens to certain size classes. Hence the name “crushed stone“. It is widely used in concrete and as a surfacing for roads and driveways, “driveway gravel” sometimes with tar applied over it. Crushed stone may also be made from granite and other rocks. A special type of limestone crushed stone is dense grade aggregate, or DGA, also known as crusher run. This is a mixed grade of mostly small crushed stone in a matrix of crushed limestone powder. Crushed stone is is very commonly used for driveways. The most common sizes of crushed stone is range from 3/8 crushed stone, 5/8 crushed stone, 3/4 crushed stone, 1 1/2 crushed stone, 2 1/2 crushed stone. You may be able to find crushed stone in other sizes as well.
Fine Gravel – gravel consisting of particles with a diameter of 1 to 2 mm.
Lag Gravel – a surface accumulation of coarse gravel produced by the removal of finer particles.
Piedmont Gravel – a coarse gravel carried down from high places by mountain streams and deposited on relatively flat ground, where the water runs more slowly.
Plateau Gravel – a layer of gravel on a plateau or other region above the height at which stream-terrace gravel is usually found.
River run Gravel – naturally deposited gravel found in and next to rivers and streams.
Rip Rap – For erosion control in drainage ditches and around ponds, large limestone rocks ranging from softball size to soccer ball size is often recommended.
Types of Crushed Stone
Crushed Limestone – This is often referred to as driveway stone or Indiana limestone. You can purchase crushed limestone in different sizes, and with lime dust to help compaction over time. Larger stones will support more weight and smaller stones will have better compaction. To support weight and benefit from compaction, you may need to have a base of large stones, topped with smaller stones to create a smoother surface. #2 limestone is a large grade stone, with some rocks the size of tennis balls. #4 limestone includes golf ball size stones, and #8 limestone is approximately the size of marbles. Crushed limestone is available with lime dust or without. The lime dust makes a hard, concrete-like surface as it settles.
Stone Dust or Stone Screenings – Stone Dust is used as a base for paving blocks & base for concrete paved roads and areas such as horse arenas
3/8″ Crushed Stone – 3/8 inch crushed stone is usually bluish to grayish in color. It is a clean stone that is used for driveways, drainage, and is often mixed with asphalt.
5/8″ Crushed Stone – 5/8 inch crushed stone generally has the same look and applications as 3/8 inch crushed stone, only it is slightly larger
3/4″ Crushed Stone – 3/4 inch Crushed Stone is gray in color, but its larger size has some additional uses. 3/4 inch Crushed Stone is used in driveways, but it is also used for around trees, landscaping, French drains, and as a sub-base for concrete sidewalks, concrete driveways, and patios,
1 1/2″ Crushed Stone – 1 1/2 inch Crushed Stone like most crushed stone, is gray. It is primarily used for drainage, septic systems, and as a road base
2 1/2″ Crushed Stone – 2 1/2 inch Crushed Stone is gray. These largest of the crushed stone products are used primarily for septic systems, & tracking pads on job sites.
3/4″ DGA – DGA or Dense Graded Aggregate is a combination of crushed stone and gravel created in a quarry process. Dense Graded Aggregate is used as a base material for driveways or walkways, road base, or a base for interlocking walls.
Types of Soil
Chalk – This soil is typically found over limestone beds and chalk deposits that are located deep underground. This type of soil is sticky and hard to work with when wet, and it can dry out very quickly in the summer. Chalk is also very alkaline, caused by lack of moisture and high lime content that can cause stunted growth in plants. To make chalk more plant-friendly, try adding acid-rich materials like peat, compost or manure.
Sand – Sandy soil is made up of large particles of silica, quartz and other rocks. It has a very rough texture that tends to allow moisture to drain quickly and lead to increased evaporation rates. Because sand doesn’t hold moisture well, it can also be difficult for plants to access nutrients.
Mulch – This is often added to the top layer of soil to help improve growing conditions. It’s made from wood chips, tree bark, leaves, yard waste and many other types of organic materials. Mulch helps keep the surface of the soil porous and keeps sunlight and rain from reaching the soil directly, holding in moisture.
Silt – Similar in texture to chalk, silt is more versatile and easy to use. It’s made up of very fine particles that give the soil a smooth, slippery texture. Because the particles are so fine, silt can be compacted very easily, which helps hold moisture and nutrients in place for long periods. Silt is often a good compromise between sand and clay soils.
Clay – Clay is one of the smallest of all natural soil particles, and it tends to pack tightly together with little air space. This high level of compaction makes clay the heaviest and densest type of soil. Its density allows it to retain large amounts of water and nutrients, but this makes it difficult for air and moisture to penetrate the soil.