Best bulk soil for fruit in raised beds: Sandy Loam, bark, compost?

I am building some massive raised beds around my deck. In these beds I plan to plant citrus, pomegranates, figs, and grapes. I need a massive amount of soil… ~10 yards. Obviously I don’t have that much soil in my lot that I can use and I need to by soil by the truck load.
What kind of bulk soil should I buy? Should I avoid anything with compost?
Nobody seems to just sell local soil cheaply. My options are Sandy Loam, various fancy mixes, or making my own mix. The Sandy Loam is more pricey than compost. The cheapest thing I can buy is something called Amendment mix which is a mix of Organic Garden Compost, Redwood Sawdust and Organic Feather Meal. Would using that work?

Btw, I am mostly looking at these two companies near me: and as they are the only 2 I know will deliver to my address.

Also, I asked this on the questions thread, but didn’t get an answer:
Do pomegranates stain wooden decks? If so, can the stain easily sand out? How about concrete? I am bit worried about planting them near the deck, but with a small lot the pomegranates are going to be near something.

Thanks in Advance,

I have been extremely happy just burying some rotten logs in the planting hole. I now have expanded that and I have buried rotten logs in all my 21 vegetable garden beds. If you have access only to wood chips, they will create a temporary nitrogen deficiency. Logs have a much smaller overall surface and do not do that. Anyway, tree companies should be able to provide you all you need. Logs, fungi, and earthworms will create a loamy soil over time.


Hi Robin:

I’d clearly choose the sandy loam soil. The other stuff will decompose over time and your raised bed will look more like a hole. Go with something that won’t settle so much and add the organics as mulch on the surface.


I prefer real dirt…or dirt mixed with other items. Composted organics and feather meal will shrink as time goes by.


I moved 48 yards by wheelbarrow and shovel once about a dozen years ago, so 10 isn’t that massive.

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Depends on how deep is the deck, hence the raised bed, you can have about half using real dirt at the bottom and other soil on top. Figs and pomegranates are less picky about the soil than citrus and grapes so you can choose the appropriate mix at the hole for each one. Bark mulching on the top will look nice but may cause termite problem. You probably will need to add more mix every year because they shrink quite a bit with time. Small flowers around the deck will make it look very nice.

That is a lot of soil BlueBerry! My back hurts just thinking about that! That also reminds me, I need to get a wheelbarrow too!

I will get mostly sandy loam then and some of the amendment mix as mulch (and for my veggie beds).

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I completely agree with what @fruitnut said above, any organic matter will shrink as it decomposes and is used up by the trees, and the trees will sink down with the soil. It’s not a problem with a vegetable garden or any annuals, since one can just add more soil on the top, but you cannot do this with trees — if you bury trees too deep in the soil, they will die.

Sandy loam sounds good, but check craigslist for top soil, it’s offered cheaply sometimes by construction companies — they often excavate dirt and need to discard it somehow.

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No, they don’t. Pomegranates don’t drop, they stay attached to the tree until picked up. In fact, you need to apply some force (or cut with pruners) to separate the fruit from the twig. My neighbors don’t pick their pomegranates and fruits stay on the tree for almost a year, until they completely rot down.

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yes, that is the concept. And it works very well, specially for perennials.

Thanks Stan. I searched far and wide for the answer to my pomegranate question! I have 3 pomegranates I am planing to plant next to the deck. An eversweet, parfianka, and desertnyi.

My beds are ~2’ deep. Not sure what I will use as mulch yet. Will definitely plant some flowers although Pomegranates and citrus are really lovely trees. Edible landscaping can be pretty.

Unfortunately no rotten logs around here… There are some people giving away soil about an hour south of me. I will see if they will deliver, but I bet I am too far north.

Thanks Again!

Hey RealLM, Thank you for sharing this site with me on houzz! Its quickly become a daily venture for me.

I have 6 raised garden beds for my vegetable garden with wire underneath (have gophers) and had to order 10 cubic yards of soil to fill them. They are 8’x4’ each. I ordered from American Soil & Stone in Richmond (they’ll deliver anywhere in the bay at varying cost) for about $43 a cubic yard. They charged $120/hr for delivery. I’m less than an hour from them but a friend in Palo Alto ordered some soil and it took 2 hours for her. The soil is called Local Hero Veggie Mix and here’s the description from their site:

A favorite amongst vegetable gardeners this well amended sandy loam is designed specifically for vegetables. Can either be used to fill raised planters or blended with existing soil. This product utilizes chicken manure, grape compost and cocoa bean hulls to provide a long lasting nutrient source.
Contains: Sandy Loam, Greenwaste Compost, Rice Hulls, Chicken Manure, Grape Compost, Fir Bark, Cocoa Bean Hulls

They also sell the grape compost separately to add in the coming years as well. It’s a slow release balanced fertilizer that my vegetable plants really seem to love.

They also have an Ultra Bedding Mix that might be a little cheaper and also work for you. From their site - American Soil & Stone

Excellent for pots or filling raised planters. Can be used for flowerbeds and general landscape plants. This soil uses coconut coir as an alternative to peat moss.
Contains: Coconut Coir, Greenwaste Compost, Rice Hulls, Chicken Manure, Grape Compost, Red Lava, Sandy Loam

I purchased the Local Hero Veggie Mix after reading this edible landscaper’s review of it for his installments and asking around at our local master gardeners workshops - Local Hero... just amazing results - DaveTheGardenGuy

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Thanks bonitapplebump! I’m glad you found your way over here. These folks really know their stuff.

Good to know about American Soil and Stone… although I think the delivery fee may be too high for my location. I will have to read about those soils as I need something for my veggie beds as well. I made my own soil blend for my veggies a few years back… it was a lot of work. I think my DH would have a fit if I try to do that again (he would up doing most of the lifting and stirring).

Update: Stan, thanks to your craigslist tip I got 10 yards of soil dumped on my driveway for free!

I spend most of the afternoon putting together a gorilla cart. I only succeeded in getting one cart to the backyard before I called it a day. It was really hard getting the gorilla cart over the narrow bumpy path to my backyard. And then the thing dumps the wrong way (I don’t have enough room to turn it around)! If anyone has any tips for how to move soil, please let me know! At least filling these beds is a one time thing!