landscape

Mulch does a garden good, AND Santa Barbara County Residents get it for FREE!mulchtv

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. 

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


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
    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 Mulch
    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.  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.
  3. Delivery of Mulch
    1. 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.


Water customers of City of Santa Barbara can receive up to two deliveries of an 8-10 yard dump truck load per site every 12 months, compliments of the City, by filling out a Mulch Purchase Agreement, available at http://lessismore.org/materials/76-county-mulch-program#freemulch  A handy table to determine how much mulch you need is available on that website as well.

Goleta Water District now offers up to two free mulch deliveries to places within the City's jurisdiction.

Mulch Frequently asked Questions:Mulch Photo

  • 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.

For questions and to make a delivery appointment, call Joey Costa "The Mulch Guy" at (805) 681-4981.