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How to Dispose of Dirt: 6 Methods & Considerations

How to Dispose of Dirt: 6 Methods & Considerations

Whether you’re working on a construction site or a residential landscaping project, you may find yourself wondering what to do with large quantities of excess dirt. Regardless of what type of project you’re working on or how much dirt you have left over, there are various disposal methods that will help you get rid of it.

How you dispose of dirt will depend on what kind of material it is (dirt vs soil) and whether it has contaminants in it. Remember that you should never dump dirt on public property like parks or private property that you don’t own.

This post details six dirt disposal methods based on what kind of dirt you need to remove, what equipment you have available, and your budget.

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Understand the Type of Dirt

The first step to properly disposing of extra dirt is understanding what kind of dirt you have. Soil contains nutrients and minerals to promote plant growth. Dirt, on the other hand, contains little in the way of organic material, which makes it less supportive of plant life but also more stable for construction purposes.

different types of dirt

Typically, topsoil is used for gardening, while fill dirt is used to fill holes and build up ground on construction sites. Here are the different types you may be dealing with:

  • Clean topsoil: This is the uppermost layer of soil, typically used for gardening and landscaping. While there is no official definition of clean soil, getting it tested for pH level can help you evaluate it. A neutral pH of 6 to 8 is considered clean — anything outside of that range may indicate contamination.
  • Contaminated topsoil: To determine proper disposal procedures, local regulations may require you to get the topsoil tested in case it has been contaminated with chemicals of some sort. Soil contaminants from manufacturing, land development, or industrial dumping can include petroleum, pesticides, chromated copper arsenate, and more.
  • Clean fill dirt: Fill dirt is a mixture of broken down sand, rocks, and clay that is typically used for construction projects that require stable ground such as roads, driveways, swimming pools, and foundations. Clean fill dirt does not contain anything that could compromise stability, such as organic matter, large debris, or contaminants. If your fill dirt is clean, it should be fine for you to recycle it or give it away.
  • Non-clean fill dirt: If your fill dirt is contaminated by chemicals, plastic, or other waste materials, you shouldn’t donate it or sell it or reuse it. You’ll need to dispose of it with the help of a hazardous waste disposal company.

Choose Your Dirt Disposal Method

Depending on what kind of material you need to dispose of and what you feel comfortable doing, you can choose from the following dirt and soil removal options.

dirt disposal methods

1. Contact Your Construction and Demolition Recycling Center

This method is typically used if you’re dealing with dirt from a construction project. Construction and demolition (C&D) recycling centers divert construction waste from landfills — and dirt is a large part of that waste. Contractors typically include disposal methods in their Waste Management Plan (WMP), which may be required for permit approval.

Most C&D companies allow you to rent authorized containers to fill with clean dirt on site. They also allow you to deliver the dirt to the facility by the truckload. Check to see that the facility accepts soil, as not all do. Also, understand if your debris needs to be pre-sorted or if it can be mixed with other construction waste.

You can rent equipment to help you excavate and collect soil.

Find a recycler near you by visiting CDRA and selecting “find a C&D recycler.” C&D recyclers typically accept recycled materials like plastics, wood waste, land clearing, drywall, glass, construction waste, and more. Verify that they accept dirt.

  • Cost range: Around $40 to $75 per ton, depending on rates at your local C&D facility
  • Why is this a good option?
    • You may have the option to request the recycling company to pick the waste up for you.
    • It diverts waste from landfills and may be required for permitting.

2. Advertise That You Have Free Dirt

A cost-effective way to get rid of dirt you don’t want is to offer it to your local community. A landscaping company or homeowner may want it to make raised garden beds or fill in holes on their property.

  • Put up a sign that says “free dirt”: You might want to let people know the type of dirt or soil so they’ll know if they can use it for gardening, landscaping, or construction.
  • Post on your local marketplace: Consider making a post on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace that you have free dirt or soil that someone could pick up. Make sure to notify the audience of the soil or dirt type, such as topsoil or fill dirt, so they’ll know whether they need it and how they can use it. If you’re allowing people to retrieve smaller amounts from a large pile, let people know if they need to bring storage bins for removal in case they don’t have a pickup truck.
  • Post on a dirt website: The free dirt website enables you to sell or give away dirt depending on the type you want to give away. You can also find dirt or soil at clean-fill-wanted.com.

Ideally, you’d push the dirt into piles using heavy equipment, a shovel, or other method, and then have someone pick it up. If you don’t want to collect the dirt into piles yourself, make it clear on your advertisement that someone needs to scoop it into piles to take with them.

  • Cost range: Free
  • Why is this a good option?
    • Easy to do — with just a computer, a cell phone, or a cardboard sign, you can let others know that the dirt is free to take.
    • You don’t have to go somewhere else to dump dirt because someone will come to your location to pick it up.

3. Rent a Dumpster

If you choose to rent a dumpster, a company like BigRentz will deliver a roll-off dumpster to your site. Make sure that the dirt or soil you’re dumping is within compliance with the state laws and regulations in your location. You’ll need to place the dirt in the dumpster yourself, collecting it with a wheelbarrow, heavy equipment, or other method. Once you fill the dumpster, it’ll be hauled away for you, making your life easier. Make sure to verify the maximum dumpster tonnage because dirt is heavy and may result in additional fees.

  • Cost range: $150 to $1,800 per dumpster depending on size, load weight, and location. You can check out the cost to rent a dumpster by inputting your location and dumpster size.
  • Why is this a good option?
    • If you have large amounts of dirt, you can load it from the location without having to drive anywhere to dump it.
    • It’s a relatively affordable option.

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4. Use a Junk Removal Company

If you have a lot of dirt that would be difficult to haul to a landfill, a junk removal company is also a good option. Junk removal companies tend to charge by volume, but the exact cost varies by company and your location. Keep in mind that dirt may be considered a very heavy load and therefore cost more than other debris to haul. If you have a large quantity of dirt, you may need to look into hiring a dump truck service.

  • Cost range: $75 to $150+ per cubic yard depending on your location, the weight, and difficulty of pickup. Contact local companies for a quote.
  • Why is this a good option?
    • You don’t have to worry about loading it or dumping the dirt — the company will do it all for you.
    • If you have no equipment to deal with extra dirt, even if it’s a small amount, you can rely on a company to be well-equipped to handle the task from beginning to end.

5. Take It to Your Local Landfill

You may be able to drop off dirt/soil at a landfill, depending on your location and what material the landfill accepts. You can search your local waste management or local landfill website for materials that the landfill will take. You may need to rent a truck, such as a dump truck, to transport the dirt to a landfill.

  • Cost range: $0 to $20+ per cubic yard, load minimums and additional fees may apply
  • Why is this a good option?
    • It may be cheaper to take it to a local landfill yourself.
    • You don’t have to coordinate delivery or pickup times with third-parties.

how to dispose of contaminated dirt

6. Hire a Hazardous Waste Hauler

If your dirt is contaminated, you’ll need to work with a hazardous waste hauler who complies with the EPA requirements or a remediation company to dispose of it.

If you think your soil has been contaminated, you may need to get it tested to make sure it is handled by the correct people, such as hazardous waste haulers. You’ll also likely need to get your soil tested before getting a building permit per local laws to make sure the ground is stable and suitable for the construction project.

To dispose of contaminated soil, contact your local Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). They will have guidance on how and where you should dispose of the soil. Based on their recommendations, you’ll need to collect the dirt or topsoil to properly dispose of it. If you need to take it to a landfill, you may need to utilize heavy equipment to collect it.

  • Cost range: Varies by location and the disposal method
  • Why is this a good option?
    • If you think your soil is contaminated, finding out where to take it or how to properly dispose of it will get the soil in the right hands.
    • You’ll be doing the right thing by properly disposing of waste and protecting the environment.

Preparing to Dispose of Your Dirt

A cubic yard of soil is one yard high, one yard wide, and one yard long. It can weigh 2,000 to 3,000 pounds depending on the material it consists of and if it’s dry or wet.

Since soil is dense and difficult to move, you may need to rent equipment to scoop up the dirt, put it in a pile, and transport it. Make sure to evaluate the amount of soil you have and your needs before choosing a machine. These machines are good options for earthmoving.

  • Backhoe: Backhoes feature a bucket loader on the front that scoops towards the cab. Great for small to medium-sized projects, backhoes can lift and move heavy or bulky materials such as dirt, rubble, and debris.
  • Bulldozer: Recognizable by their front-mounted blade attachments, bulldozers excel at moving large quantities of materials, like dirt, gravel, rubble, and debris.
  • Excavator: Ideal for medium or large jobs requiring a lot of power, excavators come with a boom, a bucket, and a 360-degree turntable that enables operators to easily relocate dirt from a stationary position.
  • Dump truck: With an open-box bed and hydraulic lifting mechanism, dump trucks are perfect for hauling dirt from one location and dumping it in another.
  • Skid steer: Skid steers are versatile machines that come in multiple sizes. In addition to the bucket loader in the front, it has a variety of available attachments like dozer blades that you can custom-select for your dirt moving project.

Ready to Dispose of Dirt?

Whether you’re a homeowner with yard waste or a construction company with massive amounts of dirt to move, a variety of disposal options are available to you. The best choice depends on the type of dirt or soil you have, the amount you need to dispose of, and your budget. Whichever route you choose, if you need heavy equipment to collect your dirt, BigRentz has options that can help.


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