A cubic yard is a dirt pile 3 feet wide, 3 feet long and 3 feet tall, so 20 cubic yards is a pile 15 feet long, 12 feet wide, and 3 feet tall. A small dump truck holds 5 cubic yards, although many companies provide larger trucks holding up to 10 or more cubic yards. A cubic yard of dirt covers a 10-foot-by-10-foot area with 3 inches of dirt.
Today's Homeowner recommends having dirt dumped as closely as possible to the site of use. Each cubic yard of soil weighs about 2,200 pounds, so moving 20 cubic yards of dirt by hand is labor intensive. It takes nine loads with a medium-sized wheelbarrow to move a single cubic yard of dirt.
When buying dirt, selecting the right type for the job is essential. If the project is providing fill for under a concrete floor or an above ground swimming pool, sand is appropriate. If planning a garden or raised beds, top soil necessary. If buying from a nursery, it is often possible to have the nursery mix the soil with compost or peat moss before delivering it. Screened soil has had all the rocks and sticks removed, making it a better choice for use on the lawn or in the garden.