Self-Serve Compost

Our Self-Service Compost Program has ended for the season.
We will start again in spring 2024!

Spring/Summer 2024: Free Compost ​Available to Sacramento County Residents 

Starting spring 2024, the County will order compost as needed Monday through Friday, only. Compost restocking is based on vendor availability. The site is open 24/7 from spring until the end of summer. 

Compost Healthier Soil Healthier Food.PNGCompost is available seasonally in spring and summer to Sacramento County res​idents for free! ​The compost is made of Organics – food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard trimmings – ​from Sacramento County Waste Management and Recycling residential curbside customers.

  • Residents will need to bring a shovel/containers.
  • Manual loading only. No mechanical loading allowed.
  • No staff is available to assist in loading.
  • Compost will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • The site is open 24/7. 
  • The County orders compost as needed Monday-Friday, only. Compost restocking is based on vendor availability in spring and summer.  ​
  • Compost is available only in spring and summer at the parking lot of 
    3843​ Branch Center Rd, Sacramento, CA 95827 (Map View)
    • BRANCH~1.PNG

    Based on demand, the County plans to have compost available from spring until the beginning of fall. The compost pile will be restocked during spring and summer based on availability as necessary. ​

    The SacGreenTeam is excited to see the response from our residential curbside customers about the availability of self-serve compost. If there is enough demand, the goal is to expand the pilot program to more locations in the unincorporated areas​ of Sacramento County.

    The availability of this compost is through participation with Organics collection as part of Senate Bill 1383, the California legislation that requires organic material to be diverted from landfill disposal​

    The organics material has gone to permitted, industrial composting facilities to be processed into compost​. Each vendor uses a slightly different process to create beneficial compost for consumer use. All compost must meet the California standard: each pile must reach and maintain a temperature of at least 131 degrees Fahrenheit for three days. The US Composting Council​ requires compost to be tested by an independent certified laboratory before providing the compost to consumers in accordance with TMECC (Test Methods for the Examination of Composting and Compost) per the US Composting Council’s requirem​ents.​

    Compost is nature’s way of recycling our “Organics” – food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard trimmings – that transforms a previous waste stream into a beneficial, nutrient rich soil amendment. This simple act of keeping Organics out of our landfills helps protect our environment, reduces garbage, puts carbon back into the soil where it builds healthy soil, and addresses a changing climate. 

    Gardeners know the tre​mendous value of compost as a soil amendment to improve water retention, plant growth and erosion control. Adding compost to potted plants, gardens and lawns helps foster a healthy​ landscape and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.​

    Benefits of Using Compost.PNG

    ​​Fill Nutritional Gaps with Compost - Soil’s Natural Multivitamin 

    Compost is recycled organic material that fills nutritional gaps in your landscape with natural ingredients and puts carbon back into the soil.

    Use compost in your landscape anywhere you want to:

    • Create water-holding soil structure
    • Promote soil fertility
    • Aerate plant root systems for healthy development
    • Aid in erosion control

    How To Use Compost.PNG

    Compost applied to soil promotes healthy plant growth that removes emissions from the air. 

    Compost is vital for soil to retain water, ​prevent erosion and store carbon in the soil where it is a benefit.

    Where to Use Compost:

    • Add compost to the soil of potted plants​
    • Mix compost to the soil in planter beds and pots
    • Make compost tea for a boost of nutrients
    • Repeatedly top dress your garden over the seasons
    • For new plants add 50/50 compost to native soil
    • Spread half inch of compost on the lawn for growth and to retain moisture

    You can also make your own Backyard Compost – Learn how!​​


    Where and when can I pick up the free loose compost offered by the County?

    Sacramento County residents can pick up loose compost at 3843 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, CA 95827. Currently, the County plans to offer compost seasonally, generally from about March through October.  

    The location is open 24/7, but there may not always be compost available due to high demand.  The County works with our organics processors to receive regular deliveries throughout the week, Monday – Friday, and possibly on Saturday. Deliveries generally occur early in the day.

    The County hopes to expand this pilot program to additional unincorporated County area locations and will continue to update its Self-Serve Compost webpage for program updates on locations and availability. 

    Is there a limit to how much free compost I can get? 

    No. There is no limit to how much compost an individual resident can manually load. Compost is available seasonally and provided on a first come, first serve basis.

    Is it possible to get compost loaded by staff into my car/trailer?

    No. There are no staff on site to assist with loading. 

    Can I bring my own tractor to load a trailer, car, etc.? 

    No. There is no mechanical loading allowed, only manual. Residents must bring their own shovel and containers to load their compost.

    I'm not a Sacramento County resident. Can I still pick up free compost? 

    The County-provided compost is only available to Sacramento County residents.

    For information on other compost giveaway programs, visit: City of Folsom's Organics Recycling page  

    What is in the compost?

    The compost is made from organics – food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard trimmings – that includes organics collected from the County's residential curbside customers as part of the weekly organics collection program.

    How do I use compost to ensure the compost doesn't stunt the growth of my garden?  

    Compost is meant to amend the soil. Too much compost can shock plants. It is recommended that you test the compost on a small section of your garden/area to ensure satisfaction prior to a full application. For more information, visit UC Master Gardeners Sacramento's “Using Compost" section

    Are there any weed seeds in the compost? 

    Per California composting standards and required US Composting Council (USCC) testing, weeds, weed seeds and pathogens are killed when the compost is kept at 131 degrees in accordance with the corresponding composting process. For more information on testing thresholds, go to CalRecycle's Product Quality and Specifications page for Compost/Mulch

    Are there any pathogens found in the finished compost?

    The collected organics material goes to permitted commercial composting facilities to be processed into compost. Each vendor uses a slightly different process (enclosed vessel, windrow, aerated static pile) to create compost for consumer use. However, per CA title 14 requirements, compost is kept at 131 - 151 degrees for 3 to 15 days to kill pathogens in accordance with the corresponding composting process for pathogen reduction.

    The US Composting Council  (USCC) also requires compost to be tested by an independent certified laboratory before providing the compost to consumers in accordance with TMECC (Test Methods for the Examination of Composting and Compost). The testing data collection includes thresholds for moisture and organic matter content nutrients, pH, soluble salt s, pathogens (fecal coliform/Salmonella), trace heavy metals, and man-made inerts (glass, plastic, etc.). There are no bio-solids or other materials from sewer treatment. 

    It is recommended that you test any compost on a small section of your garden/area to ensure satisfaction prior to a full application.

    If you have questions about per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and other forever chemicals in compost, please visit the US Composting Council's (USCC) PFAS webpage

    ​If you have questions about herbicides in compost, please visit US Compost Council's (USCC) Herbicide Frequently Asked Questions page


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