How To Get Rid Of Topsoil The Right Way | Checkatrade
Review a Trade

Have you completed a project recently? Let your tradesperson know how they did.

Advice Centre

Get Inspired! Check the latest industry expertise and read insider tips from our vetted tradespeople.

Search For A Trade

We interview and vet all our tradespeople to ensure they meet our high standards.

Join Checkatrade

Join us and benefit from the millions of potential customers who use Checkatrade to find reliable tradespeople.

Advice Centre

Grow your business! Check out top tips and expert advice for boosting your reputation online.

Login To Your Account

Edit your profile, view callback requests and ask for feedback from customers.

How to get rid of topsoil the right way

Learning how to get rid of topsoil is a multi-step process. You might assume it’s a relatively easy and straightforward task. However, we’re here to make sure you don’t get your hands dirty without checking you’re doing it the right way.

Learning how to get rid of topsoil is a multi-step process. You might assume it’s a relatively easy and straightforward task. However, we’re here to make sure you don’t get your hands dirty without checking you’re doing it the right way.

Read on for our top tips and step-by-step guide. And don’t forget, we’re here to make your life easier and save you the back-breaking effort of removing topsoil by yourself. So, if you want to find local tradespeople checked by us, reviewed by your neighbours, then checked by us again (so you know the reviews are real), take a look here.

Otherwise, read on for our DIY expertise.

How to get rid of topsoil the right way

How to remove topsoil. Image: Skip with debris and garden waste in it.Whether you’re looking to install a pond, remove a contaminated seedbed or landscape your garden, the process is the same.

Tools you’ll need for the job

  • Rake
  • Spade
  • String
  • Stakes
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Skip
  • Garden bags
See the tradespeople we've checked and recommend for your job

How to remove topsoil

Step 1: Prepare the area

Before you begin removing the topsoil, make sure you prepare the area properly. This includes:

  • Clearing away any debris or furniture
  • Making sure you have the planning permission you need
  • Knowing where any cables or pipes are and how to avoid hitting them
  • Outlining the area with string and stakes to mark a border, which also lets you estimate how much topsoil you’re likely to remove

Top tip: If you’re not sure about planning permission or pipes etc., ask your local fencing company who will be able to advise you on these matters.

Step 2: Use a spade to remove the topsoil

Once you’ve marked out the area and cleared your path, it’s time to start digging. Use your spade to remove the first few inches of the soil. You can tell you’re removing the right amount if you’re seeing roots, earthworms and insects. It’s also darker and has some grit to it.

Step 3: Stop when you hit the subsoil

Keep digging and discarding the soil into large garden bags, a wheelbarrow or a skip. You’ll know the topsoil is removed when two layers appear. The subsoil is often lighter and filled with rocks or sand. There won’t be any roots or insects there as it lacks basic nutrients, which means nothing can grow there. Don’t remove too much of this layer as there’s no economic value to it.

Step 4: Dispose of the unwanted soil

Make sure you get rid of your topsoil legally and safely. You can’t just put it in a wheelie bin and forget about it. You need to make sure it’s disposed of properly.

Thankfully, there are several ways to do this, such as:

Top tip: Calculate the amount of topsoil you need to dispose of using this formula: Length of dig area X Width of dig area X Depth of topsoil

How to get rid of topsoil with a tractorMost topsoil is no more than 6 inches deep. So, if your site is 20 feet long, 6 feet wide and 6 inches (0.5 foot) deep, the calculation is 20 X 6 X 0.5 = 60 cubic feet.

How to remove topsoil with tractor

If you want to remove your topsoil with a tractor, you need to make sure you’re licensed. Otherwise, the best thing to do is hire a mini-digger to complete the job.

If you’ve never operated a mini-digger before, we recommend hiring a professional to avoid potential accidents. They’re covered by public liability insurance and will make sure your job is completed quickly and professionally, saving you money in the event something goes wrong.

Check out our mini-digger cost guide to see how much hiring a digger might set you back.

See the tradespeople we've checked and recommend for your job


Removing topsoil in a skipHow do you get rid of topsoil?

If you want to know how to get rid of topsoil once it’s been dug up, follow Step 4 for our advice. Alternatively, post a job here so one of our tradespeople can get back to you.

How do I remove topsoil from my lawn?

You can either do it yourself using our tips above, ask a tradesperson your neighbours recommend or hire a tractor/mini-digger operator here.

Did you enjoy our How to get rid of topsoil guide? There’s more where this came from. Check out our blog for more tips, tricks, how-tos and advice. If you are looking to lay turf after removing your topsoil, take a look at our handy how to lay turf guide.

Tell us what you think

Please leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What others think of this article:

No comments yet!

Also in this project

Garden clearance cost guide

Uncover your perfect garden with our informative garden clearance cost guide. Learn about typical prices and factors involved with clearing and removing all types of waste....

Read more
Garden waste removal cost guide

From removing organic waste, to clearing away broken furniture and more, garden waste removal is an effective way to tidy a garden in Spring, Summer or all year!...

Read more
How to clear a garden full of weeds

Weeds and unwanted plants in the garden can be a real nuisance, especially if they keep growing back. In this guide we look at how to clear a garden full of weeds, and the options for dealing with the...

Read more
How to remove a tree stump

Learn how to effectively remove a tree stump and take back your garden. With step-by-step guides to eradicate tree stumps using fire, chemicals and more....

Read more