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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.

Check out this great Mulch Video, produced by the City of Santa Barbara's Water Conservation Program, in collaboration with County staff.


Mulch Video 2015


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

Mulch Flyer 2020 JPG

Recent Changes to the Mulch Program

Due to the expansion of our current recycling operations and the introduction of new community recycling programs, Santa Barbara County will no longer be producing two mulch products. Previously, the County produced both regular and screened mulch. As of March 2022, the County will not be producing the screened mulch product. But don't worry! All of our mulch pick-ups, deliveries, and the load-your-own pile will still be available. Our regular mulch is a high quality product that has all of the benefits of screened mulch. Check out our FAQs below to learn more about our mulch.

How do I get Mulch?

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

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

Free Mulch Piles

Free mulch piles are available in Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez. 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 is available at the South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station at 4430 Calle Real in Santa Barbara. The free pile is located right across the road from the facility and is accessible to residents 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • Santa Ynez Valley:

    • Pick-up is available at the Santa Ynez Valley Recycling and Transfer Station at 4004 Foxen Canyon Road in Los Olivos. The free pile, located by the front gate, is accessible to residents 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Free Mulch Pile

Loading of Mulch

Qualified trucks (no pick-ups or trailers due to their danger of being overloaded) can be loaded with mulch in the South Coast and Santa Ynez Valley for a fee. Please call ahead to confirm availability. 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) 686-5080.

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 Form 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.

Mulch can usually be delivered within one to two weeks of a request.  Please call ahead for current pricing.

Mulch Delivery Rebate for City of Santa Barbara and Goleta Water District Customers!

City of Santa Barbara

Because mulch reduces the need for watering by minimizing evaporation, residential and commercial City of Santa Barbara water customers can receive up to two rebates for delivery of unscreened mulch! Please note that this is per Fiscal Year (July 1 - June 30). The mulch must be delivered to a site that is served by City water.

Please follow the delivery instructions above, pay the invoice, complete a rebate application, and remember to keep your County receipt. The rebate application and more information can be found here on the City of Santa Barbara's website.

Goleta Water District

The Goleta Water District now offers a 100 percent rebate on up to two deliveries of mulch (approximately 7-10 yards) per year. The program is limited to $80 per delivery or an annual maximum of $160 per fiscal year (July 1 through June 30). Customers should call the County to schedule a delivery, pay up front, and then obtain a receipt from the County to include in a rebate application to the Goleta Water District. More information is available here on the Water District's website. If you have any questions, please call (805) 964-6761.

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.

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