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How to Get Free Fill Dirt: A Step-By-Step Guide

How to Get Free Fill Dirt: A Step-By-Step Guide

Fill dirt is a necessity when it comes to building or landscaping, but the cost of it is often sky-high.

However, if you know the right places to get fill dirt, you can save yourself a few hundred dollars, saving you big money on your project.

How to Get Free Fill Dirt in 5 Steps

While it’s easy to find free fill dirt, there are some steps to take to make sure you get the best dirt you can. These include:

    1. Figuring out which kind of fill dirt you need
    2. Making a list of free fill dirt locations
    3. Following up with locations
    4. Making transportation arrangements
    5. Repeating to get the amount of dirt you need

You might not think it’s easy to get free fill dirt, but as long as you follow the steps outlined below, you’ll have the best chance possible of getting the dirt that you need.

Step 1: Figure Out Which Kind of Fill Dirt You Need

For a piece on how to get free fill dirt, various types of soil sit in a 3x3 grid

Dmitriy Fesenko/Shutterstock

The first step in getting free fill dirt is to understand which kind you need. The issue with fill dirt is that there are many different kinds, and you might have to get each one from a different place.

Some of the most common include the following:

Once you decide on the type of fill dirt you need, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Make a List of Possible Free Fill Dirt Locations

Dump truck pouring a bunch of fill dirt into a pile from the back of its bed


The next step is to make a list of possible locations in your area where you can get free fill dirt. Here are some unlikely sources:

Construction Sites

Many contractors don’t want to haul away their leftover dirt when they’re finished with a project. Instead of paying someone else to take it off their hands, they’ll pile it up somewhere on the grounds and leave it there until they need it again.

If you plan on using construction fill dirt for landscaping or gardening purposes, make sure that they aren’t applying any herbicides or pesticides to it before you take it home, so that none of those chemicals get into your yard and garden as well.


Craigslist is an excellent place to look for free fill dirt because people often need to get rid of it when remodeling or moving.

If you offer them the possibility of taking away their waste, then many people are more than happy to give it away at no charge. This also helps save them money on having a trash hauler remove it from their property.

Free Dirt From Your City

Many towns offer free soil for front of house landscaping projects through their community redevelopment agencies.

Make sure that your project qualifies for that particular program by reading through the requirements. These agencies aren’t there to give away soil to anyone who asks.

They only have limited amounts and want to ensure that they go towards good causes. If you’re building new buildings or doing major remodeling, try asking your local government if they have any leftover fill dirt available—sometimes they do.

Landscape or Tree Services

Many landscape companies or tree-removal services have a massive pile of dirt lying around somewhere they can’t use for their work, but they’re unable to dump it anywhere.

For this reason, you could get it almost free of charge if you offer to take some of that soil away on your own. However, the amount you might get is limited by how much they need and how willing they are to let somebody else take it all.

Step 3: Follow Up With Locations

Yellow hard hat sits on a pile of dirt in a construction site


Once you’ve made a list of possible locations to get free fill dirt, you’ll need to follow up with each location to see what they can offer. Why follow-up?

Well, you can’t take dirt that doesn’t belong to you. You’ve got to do everything legally.

The best way to follow up with a potential location that has free fill dirt is to either call or visit them in person and ask about their dirt. Sometimes people just show up at places and say, “Hi, I’m here for some free fill dirt.”

However, this method isn’t recommended because it’s not a very professional approach and is not guaranteed. Instead, call and ask what kind of dirt they have and if you can have any for your project.

While some places might say no, it never hurts to ask. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you can get.

It’s also so important to make a list of multiple places that have free fill dirt. In case some places say no, you’ll still have some other places to ask.

Step 4: Make Transportation Arrangements

Guy getting free fill dirt in poured into the back of his trailer attached to a pickup from an excavator in a construction site


Next, you’ll need to arrange transportation for the fill dirt. Since you’re getting it for free, you might want to consider if there’s any way you could transport it yourself.

Don’t end up with a pickup truck full of dirt only to find out halfway through loading that your vehicle is not large enough or strong enough to get all the dirt you need.

You should also ask if there are any restrictions on how much dirt you can take. Sometimes there will be minimum quantities or weights per load before they even consider letting somebody have their dirt for free.

Make sure you meet the requirements before spending any energy loading dirt onto your car.

If you can’t move it yourself, then you’ll either need to have it delivered or hire movers or transportation professionals to get it for you. This can become costly unless you do research on these moving companies beforehand.

Step 5: Repeat to Get the Amount You Need

Pickup with a dump trailer pouring free fill dirt into a pile

Patanaree Asavacharanitich/Shutterstock

If you aren’t able to get all the fill dirt you need at one location, don’t worry. You can always return and ask for more later, or ask for another location. For instance, say your property needs a lot of new fill dirt.

It’ll probably take several visits to different locations before you can get enough for the new house. Just keep following up with different places until you’re satisfied with your results and have enough for what you need.

Things to Consider

Now that you know how to get free fill dirt, you should consider the following:

  • You’ll need a truck or other vehicle to haul it away—either your own or one that’s available for rent.
  • While fill dirt is free in most cases, you likely still need to pay somebody to load the soil onto the back of your truck or into your yard unless you want to do that yourself.
  • Be careful about getting dirt that is contaminated or otherwise not suitable. Some soil can be full of trash, chemicals, bricks, or rocks that you might not want on your lawn.

Final Thoughts

It can be tempting to pay for fill dirt for your outdoor projects.

However, if you know where to get it from and when to ask in advance, you’ll save yourself a lot of money.