We source compost/soil/mulch etc. in two forms: bulk and bagged. We typically use bagged when there is limited access to the areas to which we need to apply materials. I would love an efficient alternative for two reasons. First, the bagged material is several to many times the cost of the bulk materials. Second, I hate to see all the plastic bags go to the dumpster/landfill/wherever.

Is there a device, garment, container, or contraption that would allow 1 or 2 guys to carry as much loose soil as they would be able to carry bagged - Say 2-3 cubic feet per person?

Edit: We get bulk compost in 1.25 cubic yard totes that have sling handles can be lifted with a forklift. Is there such a thing as a mini version of this? If so, please provide source.

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    Seems sensible to me to use the money you save not buying bagged materials to buy a wheelbarrow... otherwise its a tarpaulin carried between the two of you. If you value the strength and fitness of your back, I wouldn't recommend doing that other than once.
    – Bamboo
    Jun 30, 2015 at 16:34
  • We only use bags when we can't use wheelbarrows - ie up long stairs.
    – That Idiot
    Jun 30, 2015 at 16:55
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    tarp then, can't think of another way, its what I've done in the past when necessary
    – Bamboo
    Jun 30, 2015 at 17:16
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    Tarpaulin litter made of tarp hammock between two poles. Leaving of the fastening method to you, rope lashing comes to mind. Bag it yourself, drop a couple bags on the litter. The moundbuilders of the Midwest US used baskets with a head thong to move tons of earth. Jun 30, 2015 at 20:06

2 Answers 2


If you want someing truly dedicated and dedicate 2 people to the task, a HandBarrow - but you'll probably have to build it yourself, they are not exactly common these past couple of centuries, and the guy on the bottom gets most of the weight when on stairs. handbarrow from oldgardentools.uk

A standard handtruck is one way to deal with stairs - add container to suit. A "stair-climbing handtruck" can push the capacity (and price) up quite a bit, especially if you get the powered versions.

Otherwise the pair of buckets (or pair of buckets with a yoke, which you'll also probably have to make yourself for the same reason) is the best option going (and too much with heavy materials if the buckets are full, IMHO.)

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With a HUGE air compressor you might also be able to transport it on air through a tube (using a dry-transport gunite system essentially.) Price tag somewhat shocking, but if you had a large high-dollar hard access job it might pay for the rental...

  • There's nothing below on my screen. Above and below are relative terms when the answers switch positions periodically. You might want to specify in another way. @ThatIdiot Jul 1, 2015 at 1:37

This seems offtopic and there are a number of options. You just need something that can carry the weight of which many options are available.

If bags work but you don't want to pay bagged prices just reuse any bags you have as carriers. Get something like a Handy Camel to seal the top of the bag and help carry it.

If you want to purchase small tote like bags there are heavy duty garden clean up bags that can hold about 25 gallons (3.3 cf). Not sure if they're appropriate for soil but I think they would hold up for a few uses. Also grow bags, root pouches, smart pots etc have handles up to 20 gallons (2.8 cf) and are designed to hold soil. Potting soil at least but not necessarily meant to be moved around much.

There are small dumpster replacement bags available and bulk bags designed to store and transport heavy items anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 lbs and up from what I've seen. Think of large bag totes used in transport of things like grains. These come in larger sizes and the smallest I've seen is a cubic yard.

You can just use something like a 20 gallon Rubbermaid tote or small 20 gallon garbage can. Two 5 gallon buckets (one in each hand) will hold about 1.3 cubic feet total.

There are also smaller wheelbarrows and carts available. Some even fold to save space. Probably the easiest and fastest will just be to use a standard sized wheelbarrow to bring the material as close as you can and then smaller containers to bring it from the wheelbarrow to the hard to access location.

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    It's about landscaping. It seems rather on-topic to me. Jun 30, 2015 at 17:52
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    @shule I see it as being about carrying stuff. Not really about landscaping. There is also no one correct answer as a host of different devices can be used to carry a couple cubic feet of bulk materials like soil or mulch. The most appropriate device will depend on many different factors that have not been explained. Jun 30, 2015 at 20:30
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    I'm looking for a specialized item. I am aware that you could fill a trash can or Rubbermaid container with soil, but neither of these is an optimal solution.
    – That Idiot
    Jun 30, 2015 at 22:11
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    @ThatIdiot This is what I'm talking about. Lack of details in question. What makes the bags, buckets or trash cans not an optimal solution? What are the exact challenges you're facing that need to be addressed. What have you tried and why don't you find it acceptable. There are dozens of ways to bring bulk material from point A to point B but without knowing specifics all anyone can do is throw out the various suggestions and hope one of them lands with your unknown requirements. Jul 1, 2015 at 1:49
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    Machine is called a bark blower. Info here finncorp.com/bark-blowers.html and video here youtube.com/watch?v=HLWo_R-SKIc Jul 1, 2015 at 4:10

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