Need some compost for your next spring planting? Looking to amend a problem patch of compressed clay soil cheaply and easily? Well, you’re in luck: it turns out that Silicon Valley residents have a number of excellent resources available to them. With most of these, you will need to pick up and haul the stuff yourself (although some places offer delivery of larger quantities for a fee). When going for a load, don’t forget to wear boots, take a shovel, and have a supply of contractor grade bags (or, if hauling on a flatbed, a tarp) to properly secure your treasure.

The following list of compost suppliers make free and low-cost material available to home gardeners. Aside from being partitioned into the free and low-cost categories, they are presented in no particular order. The source for the information: the Santa Clara County Recycling and Waste Commission, as well as the individual facilities themselves.

As a bit of an aside, the county offers a free introductory composting workshop each year towards the end of every summer (usually in September/October); those interested should watch our calendar for event details…

Free Compost

  • Cooper Garrod winery and horse stables in Saratoga. Offers free composted horse manure/stable bedding to Santa Clara residents. Call (408) 867-7116. We have continued to make use of Garrod’s compost over the years, dragging shovels and trash cans up the hill to the stables. Our tomato plants thank us each and every growing season by producing an amazing abundance of beautiful fruit. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Garrod compost comes highly recommended.
  • SMART Station. Offers free compost to residents of Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Los Altos and Palo Alto. Proof of residency is required. For larger quantities (weekends recommended), call 24 hours in advance: (408) 752-8530. Self service is available 7 days a week, 8:00am to 5:00pm, in front of the SMaRT station (near the buy back center). One truckload a week limit.
  • Stevens Creek Reservoir Dam. Offers free compost made from yard waste collected from Cupertino’s recycling program to residents of Cupertino. Proof of residency is required. The site is open on Fridays and Saturdays, from 8:30am to 11:00am, including Memorial, July 4th, and Labor Day weekends, from mid March through mid October (see their website for exact dates). Closed in wet/muddy conditions. Call (408) 777-3354.
  • Monterey Mushroom in Morgan Hill. Offers free mushroom compost (3 yard limit) to area residents. Proof of residency is required. (Larger per ton quantities are available for a fee; call for info). Call (408) 779-4191.

Low Cost Compost

  • BFI Organics – Newby Island Compost Facility. Offers super humus compost. Call (408) 945-2844 Location: 1601 Dixon Landing Road Milpitas Ca 95035 Hours: Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 4:00pm for minimum order of 2 yards. Saturday 8:00am to 11:00am for small orders (1 yard). Note: wear a hat to protect head from seagull droppings.
  • Guadalupe Landfill. Offers self loaded Valleys Pride compost. Available in both yard quantities and smaller quantities. Delivery is also available. Call (408) 268-1694. Location: 999 Guadalupe Mines Road San Jose CA 95120 Hours: Monday to Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm
  • Zanker Road Resource Management. Offers self loaded compost at a price (minimum order is 2 yards). Call (408) 313-0444 or email Alex Sharpe at Location: 705 Los Esteros Road San Jose CA 95134 Hours: Monday to Friday 7:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday/Sunday 8:00am to 3:00pm
  • Z-Best Composting Facility. Offers certified organic compost. There is a cost for the self-loaded material, with a minimum order of 8 yards. Delivery of 20 yards or more can be arranged. Call (408) 846-1574. Location: 980 Highway 25 Gilroy CA 95020 Hours: Monday to Friday 7:00am to 5:00pm, Saturday 7:00am to noon
  • U-Save Rockery. Offers Wondergrow organic compost. There is a cost for the material. Call (408) 293-8797. Location: 589 E Gish Rd San Jose CA 95112 (near Highway 880 Gish exit) Hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am to 5:00pm, Saturday 7:30am to 4:00pm
  • Payless Hardware and Rockery. Offers E.B. Stone Planting Compost, an all purpose compost containing composted wood shavings, redwood, chicken manure, mushroom, fir bark, bat guano, kelp meal and alfalfa meal. Other E.B. Stone soil amendments also available (1.5 cu ft bags). Call (408) 274 4922. Location: 2927 South King Road San Jose CA 95122. Hours: Daily 7:00am to 6:00pm
  • Lyngso. Offers several composts and soils, purchased by the yard or self bagged. Popular among these are their standard garden compost and their Double Doody (a mixture of horse and cow manure).They provide smaller portion self serve bags for both of these as well. Call (650) 364.1730. Location: 345 Shoreway Rd San Carlos CA 94070 Hours: Monday to Saturday 7:00am to 5:00pm, Sunday 8:00am to 4:00pm
  • Royal Oaks Mushrooms. Offers mushroom compost. Self serve only, but the compost is loaded for you; operation days and times are Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, from 7am to 3pm, and Saturday from 7am to noon. Call (408) 779-2362. Location: 15480 Watsonville Road Morgan Hill CA 95037.
  • Wheeler Farms. Offers horse manure delivery, with a 3 yard minimum. Call (650) 424-1896.