Mulch Program

Mulch does a garden good, and Santa Barbara County Residents get it for free

Did you know that your green waste gets processed and turned into mulch? Mulch improves your soil's organic content and fertility, reduces water use by minimizing evaporation, controls soil erosion, and suppresses weed growth.

How do I get Mulch?

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

  1. Free pick-up at the following locations:
    1. South Coast Recycling and Transfer Station, 4430 Calle Real, Santa Barbara
    2. Santa Ynez Valley Recycling and Transfer at 4004 Foxen Canyon Road
    3. Los Olivos and Waste Management at 1850 W. Betteravia Road in Santa Maria

  2. Loading and delivery:
    1. 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.  
    2. Schedule a delivery to receive a dump truck load here.  

Local Mulch Rebate Programs

City of Santa Barbara:
Mulch PhotoThe City will pay for two deliveries of unscreened mulch per site every 12 months for the 8-10 yard dump truck delivery. Loads in excess of this amount will be charged. To participate, click here to view the delivery instructions and have your water account number handy. 

Goleta Water District:
The District offers up to two free deliveries of screened or unscreened mulch (approximately 7-10 yards) per year. The free program is limited to $80 per delivery or an annual maximum of $160 per fiscal year (July 1st through June 30th). Residents can call the County to schedule a delivery, pay up front, and then obtain a receipt from the County to include with their rebate application to the Goleta Water District. More information is available the District's website. If you have any questions, please call 964-6761.

City of Lompoc:
Contact the  City of Lompoc's Urban Forestry Division to participate in their free Mulch and Tree Planting Program.


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

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

  • 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.

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:

  • 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 email him a message.