Adding dirt to a pump track

Hi Lee,
I haven’t been here in a while, but Spring is around the corner and I am about to order more dirt for my somewhat settled pumptrack. My question is…

What is the best way to “mesh” new dirt with the old, hard packed track?? Should I wet the old track and put the dry dirt on top of the mud and then re-water? I’m afraid that I will end up with a bunch of new, loose dirt over the hard stuff. Thanks Lee!

It’s best to plan your track and build it all at once. Jason Richardson’s “xeriscape project” in Carlsbad, CA.


If you add dirt to a packed track, chances are it will either stay loose on or flake off the existing base.

If you must add dirt:

– Loosen the exiting dirt as deep as you can bear.

– Put the new dirt on top.

– Mix them.

– Wet them.

– Shape them.

– Pack them. Pack them some more.

You want your track to be as homogeneous (dirtwise) as possible. If there’s any junction between dissimilar materials, the track will probably come apart there.

This will be a lot of work. That’s why I’m a big fan of planning. Measure twice, dig once.

Pump Track Nation!

— Lee

7 replies
  1. pmac says:

    Great! Thanks Lee. My track settled much more than I thought it would, but I don’t mind the work.

    10 yards are being dropped off in a few hours:)

  2. Lou Eichel says:

    This happened to me too.I had to add dirt to some of the rollers. Welding old and new dirt together does not work too well. If you wet the track and use a firm rake over the top of the roller to rough it up you can then place a “shell” of thick new dirt on top of the roller trying to cover the whole rideable surface. Then pack it well. This way the whole new surface is new. As long as you make it thick it won’t crumble. Good luck.

  3. MW says:

    I just took a pick and broke up the surface a bunch and then added dirt and its working great. The worse thing I ever did was told a friend he could drop off his load of dirt ( turned out to be sand) he thought he would do me a favor and spread it around. Took months to get it all mixed in.

  4. Cheeky Monkey says:

    We’ve thrown dirt on dirt before in the UK with a little bit of roughing up first and it’s worked OK. However, I’d take Lee’s advice about it. We vaguely planned and occasionaly measured, ending up with a sweet but tricky track with some tricksy sections that were hard to get “flowing” – ride and build wise. After much tweaking with shovel and rake it was sweet. Then we realised it really needed some drainage. The digger man has been and it’s now, well, screwed 🙁

    Ah well, it’s a re-build project as the days get lighter, longer 🙂

  5. mtnbmx says:

    After learning from several years of track maintenance or the school of hard knocks I can recommend the following:
    • When choosing dirt try to get a match to the existing.
    • Rip the existing soil at least 3”
    • Then saturate the soil until the water soaks in at least six inches. This will take lots water for over several hours. Sprinklers work great. Or time this work right after a good amount of rain.
    • Then add your soil with as much water as can be tolerated.
    • As the soil becomes stable enough to walk on, shape it.
    • Then get as many riders or a four wheeler on it while it’s still damp. Keep it damp.
    • Fine tune the shaping and then get it rolled with a wet steel roller. Water again till it begins to puddle. Do this roll water process two or the times.
    • Then ride…………..

  6. Wayne Beavers says:

    I have never built a pump track, yet. But I have installed a lawn several times.

    The general rule of thumb, at least around San Jose with the local junk clay problem, is to water it until you see standing water on Wednesday if you want to run the rotor tiller on Saturday. Too wet and you bog down in the muck. Too dry and it is too hard for the tines to break through.


  7. daniel says:

    Lee, thank you for posting that pic above. that is clean and beautiful. HOAs and picky wives will have a very difficult time opposing something that looks like that. that track is the perfect example of what i will soon build on my Miramar, Florida property inside a gated community. i’ve already bought your book online and i’m building a fence around my property line before i start digging. tx

Comments are closed.