Need to fill up a container or raised bed with soil? You can find the volume if you have the right formula – and keep track of the units.

So, how do you find soil volume? **To find soil volume, multiply the area of a container by its height. For a box, the volume is LxWxH (length x width x height). For a circle, the volume is πR ^{2}H (R = radius). For an ellipse (stretched circle), the volume is πABH (A is half the width of the narrowest part, B is half the length of the longest part).**

Before you do your calculations, remember to measure all dimensions in the same units! For example, measure length, width, and height of a garden box in inches (or measure all in feet – just be consistent!)

In this article, we’ll talk about how to find soil volume for different shapes. We’ll go step-by-step on what you need to measure. If you already know your dimensions, you can use our trusty soil volume calculator instead (and get an email summary with your results!)

Let’s get started.

## How To Find Soil Volume

To find the soil volume of a container, garden box, or raised bed, we multiply the area by the height:

**V = AH (Volume = Area x Height)**

The trick is this: the area of the container will depend on its shape:

**For a rectangle**, the area is LxW (Length x Width)**For a square**, the area is LxL (Length x Length, since Width = Length for a square)**For a circle**, the area is πR^{2}(Pi x Radius x Radius, where π is about 3.14)**For an ellipse**, the area is πAB/4 (Pi x Width x Length/4, where π is about 3.14)

Note: when measuring your container, use the same units for each measurement. For example, if you measure the length as 10.5 feet, you should measure the width as 4 feet (not 48 inches). Basically, just be consistent with your units.

The pictures below will help you to figure out which dimensions to measure and record for your container.

Ok, now you just need to plug those dimensions into the proper formula to find the area. Remember:

**For a rectangle**, the area is LxW (Length x Width)**For a square**, the area is WxW (Width x Width, since Width = Length for a square)**For a circle**, the area is πR^{2}(Pi x Radius x Radius, where Pi is about 3.14)**For an ellipse**, the area is πAB/4 (Pi x Width x Length/4, where Pi is about 3.14)

Ok, now you have the area of your shape. It’s time to find the height of the container.

Remember: measure in the same units that you used before. Also, only measure the height up to where you will fill the container.

For example, if your raised bed is 2 feet high, but you only want it ¾ full, then your height should be 1.5 feet (not 2 feet).

Ok, now you’ve got the area and height. Just multiply them together to get the volume!

**V = AH (Volume = Area x Height)**

### How To Find Soil Volume For Pots

Ok, so the shape of some plant pots is a little weird. Most of them are not shaped like a perfect cylinder. Instead, they look kinda like … part of a cone?

Yes, a plant pot is shaped like part of a cone – it is like a big cone minus a smaller cone (like you started with a whole big cone and chopped off the top.)

The volume of a cone is πR^{2}H/3, where R is the radius of the base (a circle) and H is the height of the cone (and π, or Pi, is about 3.14).

The volume of a plant pot is the volume of the large cone minus the volume of the small cone, or:

**V**_{pot}= V_{large_cone}– V_{small_cone}

If we use R and H for the dimensions of the large cone, with r and h for the dimensions of the small cone, we get:

**V**_{pot}= πR^{2}H/3 – πr^{2}h/3**V**_{pot}= π(R^{2}H – r^{2}h)/3

To find r, measure the diameter of the narrowest part of the pot and divide by 2.

To find R, measure the diameter of the widest part of the pot and divide by 2.

Now, put two straightedges flush with the side edges of the pot to “extend” the sides and see where they meet. The “extra” height (beyond the bottom of the pot) is h. (See the marked diagram below for help seeing this).

Finally, measure the height of the pot and add h to get H.

Then, plug in R, r, H, and h into the equation from before (repeated below) to find the volume.

**V _{pot} = π(R^{2}H – r^{2}h)/3**

### How Much Is 1 Cubic Foot Of Soil?

1 cubic foot of soil is how much would fill up a cube with side length 1 foot (see below).

This cube is also 12 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches. So, its volume is 12^{3} = 1728 cubic inches.

Another way to think of it is this: a cubic foot holds about 7.5 liquid gallons. So, 1 cubic foot of soil would fill up one and a half 5-gallon buckets.

Of course, this depends on how much you pack the soil down. The weight depends on how wet the soil is.

### How Much Is 1 Cubic Yard Of Soil?

1 cubic yard of soil is how much would fill up a cube with side length 1 yard (see below).

This cube is also 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet. So, its volume is 3^{3} = 27 cubic feet.

Another way to think of it is this: a cubic foot holds about 7.5 liquid gallons, and a cubic yard (27 cubic feet) holds 27 times as much, or about 202.5 gallons. So, a cubic yard of soil would fill up 40 and a half five-gallon buckets!

Once again, it depends how much you pack the soil down – and the weight depends on how wet the soil is.

### How Much Soil Do I Need For A Raised Bed?

The amount of soil you need for your raised bed depends on the shape and dimensions. However, assuming a box (with a rectangular base), we can use the guidelines below (volumes listed in cubic feet).

Dimensions (feet) | 1 ft | 1.5 ft | 2 ft | 2.5 ft | 3 ft |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

2×2 | 4 | 6 | 8 | 10 | 12 |

2×3 | 6 | 9 | 12 | 15 | 18 |

2×4 | 8 | 12 | 16 | 20 | 24 |

3×3 | 9 | 13.5 | 18 | 22.5 | 27 |

3×4 | 12 | 18 | 24 | 30 | 36 |

3×5 | 15 | 22.5 | 30 | 37.5 | 45 |

3×6 | 18 | 27 | 36 | 45 | 54 |

3×8 | 24 | 36 | 48 | 60 | 72 |

4×4 | 16 | 24 | 32 | 40 | 48 |

4×6 | 24 | 36 | 48 | 60 | 72 |

4×8 | 32 | 48 | 64 | 80 | 96 |

## Conclusion

Now you know how to find soil volume for containers of all shapes and sizes. Just remember to keep track of units, and convert as needed (e.g. cubic feet to cubic yards).

Learn what you can use to fill up raised garden beds here!

I hope you found this article helpful. If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here. Enjoy!

~Jonathon

**To find books, courses, seeds, gardening supplies, and more, check out The Shop at Greenupside!**

**Hey – you can sign up for our weekly gardening newsletter here!**

**Join 500+ gardeners to get access to news, tips, and information.**

**Delivered right to your inbox – once per week.**

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here. Enjoy!

~Jonathon