A model of high‐frequency scattering from the seafloor is developed taking into account discrete inclusions in the sediments. The model allows prediction of bottom reverberation, given material parameters of the sediment and inclusions and the size–depth distribution of inclusions. The frequency‐angular dependencies of the seabed backscattering strength for various types of the sediment and inclusions are calculated and discussed. An environmental data set obtained at SAX99 site (near Walton Beach, Florida), including the sediment particle size–depth distribution and the water–sediment interface roughness spectra, was used to compare contributions of volume and roughness components of the seafloor scattering. It is shown, in particular, that contribution of gravel and shell inclusions and coarse sand fraction in total scattering can be dominating (over roughness) at very high frequencies (about 100 kHz and higher) and grazing angles above critical (about 30 deg), while roughness at SAX99 site is likely a dominating mechanism of bottom scattering at lower frequencies and grazing angles below critical. A combined model, taking into account both roughness and volume discrete scattering, is shown to be a good descriptor of bottom reverberation in a wide frequency‐angular range. Possibilities for inversion of various sediment parameters from backscattering data are discussed. [Work supported by ONR, Ocean Acoustics.]