So, you have a garden or a large hole in your backyard that you need to fill, and so you might be searching for free fill or free dirt. You can have other reasons as well, but whatever it is, you might be looking for a free source of fill rather than spending bucks.

Anyway, no one wants to spend their dollars on fill or dirt! You might have faced some difficulty with finding these sources, no wonder why you came here looking for it.

But trust us; it is not as challenging as you thought. You need to know the right sources. We have created this detailed guide for you so that you get an idea of everything about free fill -the places where you will find it quickly, the sources you should avoid, the process of testing the soil, and everything in between. Let us get started.

Do not assume beforehand that purchased dirt will anyway be better than free fill! Yes, of course, there are differences, but you will have to consider the purpose for which you will be using the fill:

  • Do you want to fill only for simple, homely purposes like making your tiny garden or just filling up a deep hole? Great! Then free dirt or fill will do perfectly fine.
  • Do you want to fill for any project, like laying the foundation for a new building? Then you should probably stick to purchased dirt since they contain certain substances that are important for your specific requirement.

Let us look at the two significant differences between free and purchased fill before you decide which one you should go for as per your needs:

Soil type: The constituents and texture of free fill are much different from the purchased fill. Free fill usually has large stones, rock particles, and debris in it. Sold dirt is screened of these big particles and has a customized mixture of sand, clay, gravel, and other compounds you might want.

Soil Quality: Purchased dirt is usually confirmed and well-tested to be free of hazardous substances and contaminations and is entirely safe to use. You will have to be extra careful while selecting a free dirt source.

Now that you exactly know whether purchased or free fill is better for you, let us get to the point that you came here looking for- free fill sources:

Take a Visit to the Construction Site

Fill Dirt

Do you notice a construction site for a new building being built on your way to the office every day? Congratulations! This can be probably one of the best and most accessible sources for finding a good load of free dirt after the construction project is over. You can either ask them for free delivery to your home or gather it yourself.

Directly go to construction companies

Do you have any residential and commercial builders or even general contractors on your contact list? Call them up! They always have some of the other upcoming construction projects where they need to excavate and will usually be willing to deliver you dirt for free (minimal delivery charges).

Do not know any such person? Just Google the names of some contractors who are working on roads or subdivisions, and they will surely provide you with free fill. Some companies can also help you, but you will have to cover the delivery charges. Try negotiating on this or order for a small quantity so that it gets minimal.

Be a farmer’s friend

Do you need free dirt for your new organic garden? Then the farmer is your new friend! Manure will be an excellent choice for you. Just make sure you carry the process of composting before you use it for your garden.

Do not have the time for composting? Search for some free rabbit manure, and you can avoid that. You can even hop to sites like Freecycle, where free chicken or horse manure is available readily. 

Craigslist is an easy option

Free Fill Dirt

You will find loads of free fill on your local Craigslist page. Many construction and shipping companies get rid of tons of dirt on this online site. You will find many ads that offer free fill, screened fill, or even free delivery of topsoil.

Sounds great, right? Here, you can even find fill from residential areas that will be free of all toxic and hazardous substances! But we still advise that you conduct proper safety tests before using it. If you want a specified ratio of clay to sand or soil, you can customize it yourself as well.

Contact the swimming pool builders

You know that swimming pool builders deal with a lot of dirt and digging, don’t you? And of course, they take the responsibility of disposing of it and do not leave it for the homeowners as a gift! Thus, they are an easy source of free dirt. Just measure the volume of cubic yards of fill you need and contact your local pool companies for help.  

Search for Local Government Fill Dirt Programs

Local governments of many cities and countries will make dirt or fill available to you for free through their local programs. There are many free sites you will find for readily available dirt.

Some of these sites have few rules, like the volume of dirt required should be a minimum of 5000 ccs or a DIY system. You will find free fill posting or ads online, or you can try contacting your local city or country.

Keep track of the excavation companies

Free Clean Dirt

Many land clearing or excavation projects produce a lot of free dirt and other bits of concrete, metal, stones, etc. Even they must spend money to dispose of this waste, and so they often give it out for free. So, you can try contacting these local excavation companies for free fill. Do not go for contaminated sites like home demolition or ditch digging!

Safety Measures you Should take Before Going for Free Fill

You will find plenty of sources for free fill, and some of these ads that confirm tested for quality for free are not true.

Do not compromise on your safety! Always be extra cautious of the quality and avoid contaminated or toxic fill dirt. Let us look at some of the ways you can do this:

Ask Questions About the Source

Always discuss or look for queries on the internet, for instance:

  • Know the person who is offering the fill or the actual source or location from where the fill came.
  • Be sure about the type of fill and if the screening of large rocks, garbage, plant root, etc. has taken place.
  • Check if the soil has been tested for safety and whether a guarantee for safe use has been offered.

Try Visiting the Source Yourself

If possible, go directly to the source of the free dirt and understand if the source is safe enough. If you find that the dirt has been dug out from dumping sites filled with garbage, you certainly will not want to go for it.

Test your Fill Dirt

Test your soil for acidity or alkalinity. You can do this easily with a test kit or even with a simple experiment. You can also get it tested for a nominal fee on any local ag extension office. Once you know which nutrients are missing, you can start customizing them yourself.

Hire a Soil Engineer to Test your Fill Dirt

Your money is not worth saving if it compromises the safety of your family and pets! Professional soil testing is not that expensive, and you can always test your free dirt for organic matter, toxic materials, pH, and more. Sometimes you can even find sources for a free-soil test.  

Now that we have discussed all the sources of free fill and the measures to be taken before choosing one, let us focus on the locations you should avoid taking fill or dirt from for safety

Ditch Clean Outs

People working at road construction sites will be more than happy to give you all the free dirt. But remember, it will always be contaminated with litter, toxic substances, and weed seeds from all the traffic. So, we guess you really should not go for this source.

Waste Management Plants

Sewage treatment plants these days offer a lot of free compost, popularly known as biosolids. This is the remnant after all the processing of sewage sludge has been done.

It is most probable that this residue will contain compounds of pesticides and household cleaners, which can be extremely toxic if you want to use the fill for your garden. So better avoid this one!

Potentially Contaminated Sites

Industrial or urban areas or sites of old homes can offer you a lot of free dirt. But it will be contaminated with hazardous materials, heavy metals, etc. So, please avoid this source.

We hope this guide was helpful for you to know everything you wanted to know about free fill. We have listed a lot of potential sources where you can find dirt for free quickly and all the precautions for your safety. I hope you find a reliable source soon.