818-597-8627 info@rcdsmm.org

Community Chipping and Mulch Program

Please note this program is currently on hold but may return later this year. Check this webpage regularly for updates.

The Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains is currently offering the FREE Community Chipping and Mulch Program to help homeowners and residents prepare for wildfire. This program is funded through a grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and aims at reducing wildfire risk by removing hazardous vegetation, and improving habitat quality through the use of a mulch/compost mix in landscaping.

Program outline:

    • Homeowners and residents living in the RCD or Las Virgenes district can register for free chipping services. Check the eligibility map below.
    • Once confirmed, program participants should prepare their chipping piles according to the pile preparation guidelines. See preparation guidelines below.
    • The RCD will schedule chipping services for registered participants. Resulting mulch will be left on site.
    • Compost is critical to the enhancement of the landscape. We ask program participants to pick-up compost at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District in Calabasas to mix with the mulch resulting from the chipping. See mixing guidelines below. Compost will be free for program participants! Assistance is available for homeowners not able to pick-up compost.

If you are interested in the program but require assistance for pile preparation or compost pick-up, contact our Community Resilience Team.

The link to sign-up for this program will be returning later this year. Check our website and social medias [@rcdsmm] or sign up for our mailing list to receive updates on natural resource management and conservation programs like this. 

Pile preparation guidelines:

Registered participants should prepare their chipping pile(s) in accordance with the following guidelines:

    • Materials eligible to be chipped: CLEAN yard waste only (tree limb and branches no larger than 6” diameter – brush, etc.) – no metal, nails, barbwire, garbage, rocks, etc.
    • Ineligible materials: grass, vines, bark, and piles of leaves, juniper bushes palm fronds and other light material; processed lumber and other non-vegetation material.
    • Pile dimensions: stacked no more than six feet high, and have easy chipper access.

IMPORTANT: Homeowners should NOT use mulch within the first 5 feet around their home or deck. Although composted mulch is less flammable than wood chips, it may increase risk of ignition if used adjacent to flammable house surfaces. Learn more at www.defensiblespace.org. 

Why are we asking participants to mix mulch with compost?

The goal of the program funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is to reduce wildfire risk while improving habitat quality and soil health. Mixing mulch with compost decreases its flammability, enhances soil health and increases carbon sequestration.

We encourage participants to pick-up high-quality compost for free at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District. Homeowners willing to participate in the program but unable to pick-up compost due to physical limitations or other issue should contact our Community Resilience Team.

Who is eligible to participate in the program?

Homeowners and residents living in the area shown in the map below are eligible for free compost pick-up. If you are unsure about your eligibility, contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using a mulch/compost mix in my landscape?
Mulch and compost offer innumerable benefits to home gardens including:

    • Reducing water usage by conserving moisture and regulating soil temperature
    • Reducing maintenance by screening-off weeds
    • Controlling erosion
    • Improving soil quality and fertility with slow release of nutrients
    • Promoting soil microorganism activity

    Apply the mulch/compost mix as a layer 2” to 3” thick. Do NOT use mulch in the first 5 feet around your house or deck. Although composted mulch is less flammable than wood chips, it may increase risk of ignition if used adjacent to flammable house surfaces. Learn more at www.defensiblespace.org.

Why should I use a mix of mulch and compost for my garden?

Compost is nutrient rich and can be tilled or used as mulch to slowly release nutrients during rain or watering. Combined with mulch, you will get benefits from reduced water loss and weed suppression, as well as protection from extreme heat during the summer heatwaves. Mulch also slows decomposers helping to create a healthy, living soil.

What ratio should I use to mix compost from LVMWD and mulch from my chip pile?

We recommend using at least a 50/50 ratio. Participants should take into consideration the needs and types of plants on their property to select the best mix ratio for their landscape.

What is the quality of the compost produced by the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District?

Compost products vary widely based on the materials they’re made from and the processes used to compost them. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates Rancho Las Virgenes (RLV) Community Compost with the highest possible quality rating (Class A, Exceptional Quality). This means there are no restrictions on how much can be applied as long as the compost meets the plant’s needs.

RLV Community Compost is a very consistent product due to its processing. To validate this, RLV Community Compost is enrolled in The U.S. Composting Council’s rigorous Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) Program which requires routine analytical testing to ensure conformance with standards.

LVMWD has also tested the soil amendment for COVID-19, and has found that the virus does not exist in the compost, ensuring its safety to the public and its usage.

Note: No green waste materials are used, therefore, RLV community compost is free of plant diseases and herbicides.

What is Rancho Las Virgenes Community Compost?

RLV Community Compost is a natural product with a high humus content. Produced to stringent specification, it has earned a coveted “Class A – Exceptional Quality” designation from the US EPA. It is the end product of the environmentally sensitive solids handling process at Rancho Las Virgenes Composting Facility. Biosolids from Tapia Water Reclamation Facility are transformed through a composting process into an excellent soil amendment that can be used to enhance landscapes, ornamental areas, lawns, and vegetable gardens.

What are biosolids?

Wastewater is made up of everything that goes down the drain in homes and businesses. The 99% that is liquid is reclaimed and re-used for irrigation, the remainder organic portion is biosolids.

When and where can I pick-up free compost?

This excellent soil amendment is available FREE OF CHARGE, whether you are a resident of LVMWD or Triunfo Water & Sanitation District. The only condition is that you self-load the material.

    • When: Every Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. (except November 27, 2021, Christmas Day and New Years Day)
    • Where: 3700 Las Virgenes Rd at the intersection of Las Virgenes Rd and Lost Hills Rd in Calabasas
    • How: Bring your own sealable container(s) such as a plastic storage bin with a lid, sturdy plastic bags; or if you are loading a pickup truck or trailer, you must have a cover to secure the load in place. Each individual is responsible for filling their own containers.

    In adhering to current safety and social distancing measures due to COVID-19, all individuals will be required to observe the following conditions:

      • Individuals are required to wear a mask at all times. No exceptions.
      • Individuals are required to practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between themselves and others.
      • Individuals must bring their own shovel to collect compost.
      • Individuals must bring a valid ID.
      • No more than six people should be at the compost pile at one time.