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Happy Mulch Customer

Mulch does a garden good!

Water less, control weeds and complete the local yard trimming recycling loop by using County Mulch!

Get Free "Load Your Own" Mulch or find out more about low cost loading and delivery options on this page.

Mulch is a great ground covering that reduces weed growth and retains water in soil. Mulch can be used around trees, on paths, and helps stop erosion on slopes too. Read more about the benefits below.

How do I get Mulch?

Residents in Santa Barbara County can get mulch for their homes, gardens, and businesses a few ways:

  1. Free Mulch Pick-Up
  2. Loading Mulch
  3. Delivery of Mulch

Free Mulch Piles

There are free mulch pile available in Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez Valley, and Santa Maria. Simply drive up with a pair of gloves and a garden fork and help yourself to as much mulch as you like. A tarp is recommended for open-bed trucks.

  • Santa Barbara:

    • Pick up at the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station at 4430 Calle Real in Santa Barbara. The free pile is accessible to residents during the facility's operating hours, Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Santa Ynez Valley:

    • Pick up is available at the Santa Ynez Valley Recycling and Transfer Station at 4004 Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos. You can pick up any time the facility is open, Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Make sure to take from the free pile, as there is a fee for the screened mulch.
  • Santa Maria:

    • Pick up is available at Waste Management's facility at 1850 W. Betteravia Road in Santa Maria during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is no fee for the unscreened mulch; however, a $5.00 per yard loading fee is charged for those who need assistance with loading the unscreened mulch.

Loading of Mulch

Qualified trucks (no pickup trucks or trailers due to their danger of being overloaded with mulch) can be loaded with mulch in the South Coast and Santa Ynez Valley for a fee of $15 per load (up to 6,000 pounds) or $5.00 per ton.  Screened mulch can be loaded for a fee of $30 per load or $15 per ton.  For more information, please call the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station at (805) 681-4345 or the Santa Ynez Valley Recycling and Transfer Station at (805) 688-3555.

Mulch Delivery

Getting mulch delivered by the County is easy. Follow this three step process for getting the mulch you need.

  1. Fill out the Mulch Purchase Agreement and send it in.
  2. Figure out how much mulch you need.
  3. Call Joey, the mulch guy, at (805) 681-4981 and schedule a delivery.

The fee for the delivery of mulch is $10 per ton, while the fee for deliveries of screened mulch is $20 per ton.  Deliveries of over 30 miles will incur an additional cost of $2 per mile one way. Mulch can usually be delivered within one to two weeks of a request.

Free Mulch Delivery for City of Santa Barbara Water Customers!

Because mulch reduces the need for watering by minimizing evaporation, residential and commercial City of Santa Barbara water customers can get their mulch delivered for free! The mulch must be delivered to a site that is served by City water. The City will pay for two deliveries per site every 12 months for the 8-10 yard dump truck delivery. Please follow the delivery instructions above and have your water account number handy.

Mulch Frequently asked Questions:

  • What are the benefits of using mulch?

    • There are several benefits to using mulch for your landscaping and gardening needs:
      • Increases the soil's organic content
      • Reduces water usage by minimizing evaporation
      • Controls soil erosion
      • Suppresses weed growth
      • Provides nutrients
      • Builds sound root structures
  • Where does the County's mulch come from?

    • The mulch comes from your own gardens and landscapes. Green waste (i.e. grass clippings, dried leaves, branches, and other organic yard trimmings) generated by residents and commercial businesses on the South Coast is collected at the curbside by private hauling companies and delivered to either the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station or Santa Ynez Valley Recycling and Transfer Station where it is processed into mulch. Some green waste is also self-hauled to the transfer stations by homeowners, tree trimmers, and gardeners.
  • Who uses the County's mulch?

    • The mulch produced by the County is distributed to a variety of end users. The largest end use is in agricultural applications, such as avocado and citrus orchards, commercial nurseries, and vineyards. The mulch is also used by a diverse group of organizations, including the following:
      • Churches
      • Schools
      • Public parks such as the Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens
      • Private estates such as Lotus Land
      • Nonprofit organizations such as the Urban Creeks Council and Goleta Beautiful for habitat restoration and beautification projects
      • A large number of private residences
  • How clean is the County's mulch?

    • A Quality Assurance/Control Program ensures the production of a clean product that may be safely applied to ornamental plants, fruit trees, and vegetable gardens. Through their franchise agreements with the County, private solid waste hauling companies are responsible for ensuring that residentially collected green waste has a low level of contaminants. Painted and treated plywood and creosoted woods are removed prior to grinding, and electromagnets recover ferrous metals such as nails.
    • Processed mulch cures for two to three days to generate enough heat to destroy weed seeds. A small amount of inert and film plastics may remain. To date, the County has not received any complaints or anecdotal evidence that use of its mulch has resulted in any damage to plants or caused human health problems.
  • How much mulch will I need?

    • The amount of mulch that you'll need depends upon the size of the area you wish to apply the mulch to and the depth of application. In addition, mulch will break down over time and will need to be reapplied periodically in order to continue the benefits of its use. There are approximately 3.5 cubic yards per ton of County mulch. This ratio will vary slightly depending on the moisture content. The following general application rates may assist you in determining what your needs will be:
    • For home applications:

      • 3 inch application: 1 cubic yard will cover approximately 109 square feet
      • 4 inch application: 1 cubic yard will cover approximately 81 square feet
      • 6 inch application: 1 cubic yard will cover approximately 54 square feet
    • For orchard applications:

      • 4 inch application: 538 cubic yards or 154 tons will cover 1 acre
      • 6 inch application: 807 cubic yards or 231 tons will cover 1 acre
      • 8 inch application: 1,076 cubic yards or 307 tons will cover 1 acre

If you have any questions regarding the County's mulch program, please call Joey Costa at (805) 681-4981 or send him an e-mail message: jcosta@cosbpw.net.

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