Cheap(er) compactible fill dirt. Is there such a thing?

I have some low spots to build up in my dry lots. I have lots of damage from wind erosion and some from snow melt run off. Some areas need to be built up 18-24 inches in attempt to make the lots mud free-ish and help with runoff. Is there a type of dirt that I can use for fill to a certain depth that may be cheaper than road base or screenings and such? Essentially something to build up the depth some, then top with perhaps a higher quality compactable dirt? Or maybe a cheap rock to make up some of the depth? Admittedly I need to get quotes but I’m betting at that depth, screenings and road base will require the black market sale of an organ or two.

You could use screened millings, which are often pretty cheap. It’s ground up asphalt. You’d need to consider if that’s something you want around your horses. Some people have concern about toxins leaching from them but study has repeatedly shown little to no risk.

Although rock price is usually in the delivery, not in the product itself, so going cheap on the rock might not save you much.

1 Like

It depends on your location, but some places sell clean fill dirt. No idea if it would be more or less than screenings.

Around here people usually wait until the townships go around and dig out the ditches. If you’re closer to where they’re working than wherever they’re supposed to dump than they’ll usually give it to you for free. But keep in mind this stuff can contain garbage, etc.
Should be fine if you just needed a couple loads to even things out, and then use a better/safer footing on top.


Something you might want to consider is that unless what you use for fill is the same texture as the surrounding soil, the filled areas will drain differently.


It’s super hard packed natural dirt. I’ve successfully put down small amounts of road base before but it was ungodly expensive for the small load that I got. It has drained nicely off those spots but it needs a lot more.

Here’s what i use as the initial load, then 1" minus to fill in the gaps, and to top it off.

Thats a good idea. Maybe I can put out an ISO ad looking for fill rock. I occasionally see piles of rock that’s been pulled out of fields that house crops. Granted they’re usually less angular rock. But maybe I can find some angular stuff if I search a wider region.

if i’m trying to fill in a deep area i only go one layer big stone before adding in the 1"minus to fill the gaps to about half that depth…then agitate it often by driving back and forth over w/my tractor. It’s important not to fill all the way up so next layer of stone can nestle in better…this is what knits it all and keeps it secure. Then another layer of big stone letting it pretty much seek it’s own spot, perhaps relocating anything really huge, or sticking up too high to a lower spot. Then second batch of 1" minus…agitate quite well, and finally fill to over the top. I don’t consider it “done” until time and activity and weather has settled down the fill, because it will need another layer after that occurs. (hope i’ve made sense LOL)

Yep makes total sense. It’s a bit of a process but if I’m cheaping out on the “scrape down, add grids, and build back back up” method, then a longer process is probably what it’ll take.

Fill rock like that is going to be even more expensive per ton to ship than road base. (Unless you’re lucky enough to have some construction project where they really want the rock gone and the pricing reflects the fact that you’re doing them a favor). With trucking, it’s all about maximizing the use of the cubic feet of cargo space. In the dump truck, riprap (large rocks like in eightopond’s picture) will have ton of air between each piece, so you’re paying to ship air. Road base will be extremely dense = more efficient to ship.
I guess I’m lucky because road base is just not very expensive around here–about $240/load. Just got 80tons of road base delivered to refresh our driveway and stockpile rock for other projects around the farm, and it was barely $1k all in.

1 Like

Plus you gotta find someone with a steel trailer, and certain times of year they don’t want to mess around switching if they’re hauling grain or lime or something else, you can’t just chuck rip rap in any old trailer.

Here, rip rap is 3x the price of road base, too.

That’s a good point on shipping air.