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. I cannot emphasize how often mulch is the solution to so many problems in a garden. 

There are numerous benefits to using mulch for your landscaping and gardening needs, especially in a year with such little rainfall like the current one:

  • Increases the soil’s organic content
  • Reduces water usage by minimizing evaporation
  • Controls soil erosion
  • Suppresses weed growth
  • Provides nutrients
  • Builds sound root structures

In Santa Barbara County, we have a wonderful resource through the County mulch program. Our community green waste is collected, composted in windrows to kill pathogens and unwanted seeds, and given away for free.

There is a free mulch pile located on the County road up to the Transfer Station, on the right side heading up, near the Hearts Riding Academy. Simply drive up with a pair of gloves and a garden fork and help yourself to as much mulch as you like.

Delivery of County mulch is also offered for a minimal charge, and City of Santa Barbara or Goleta Water District customers can get rebates for two deliveries of mulch every year.  Mulch can usually be delivered within one to two weeks of a request. Replenishing a garden with mulch twice a year is ideal.

There are two versions of the County mulch- unscreened and screened. The screened mulch breaks down quicker and needs to be replaced more frequently. Some small bits of plastic are sometimes found in either mulch, although in the past few years, the County has greatly improved their methods for detecting and eliminating this nuisance plastic in the mulch.

Learn more about this great community resource at