Free Community Chipping Services 

The Santa Barbara County Fire Safe Council was awarded a three year grant to provide free curbside chipping services for residents throughout the south coast of Santa Barbara County to reduce fire risks around their homes by encouraging the development of defensible space in designated neighborhoods. You do the cutting and our contractor will chip the vegetation on-site and take it away. If you would like to retain the chips for your own landscaping, you may request this during chipping activities with these key points in mind:

  • DO NOT use woodchips or other combustible materials within a five foot radius of your home.
  • Woodchips can create a direct line of ground fuel to your home, make sure to utilize in islands around your yard with noncombustible gaps between to reduce this risk.

Selected neighborhoods have designated scheduled services which will be sent to residents via postcards. Neighborhoods in Coastal Santa Barbara County were selected based off of their Fire Severity Risks determined by CalFIRE, density of surrounding vegetative fuels, topography, and determined need by local fire authorities. 

There is often a false sense of security from property owners that the fire department will be able to extinguish all fires that start in and around their homes. Although all local fire agencies stand ready to quickly respond to contain any wildfires that may start, sometimes conditions make it impossible to protect every home. Ultimately, there is no guarantee that firefighters will be able to protect your home during a wildfire emergency so it is important that we all work together to reduce our risks. By creating and maintaining defensible space around your home, you create a safer working environment for firefighters, reduce the risk of ignition, and increase the survivability of structures. 

Establishing and maintaining defensible space around your home and outbuildings, before fire-prone summer months, is imperative in avoiding major damages to your property when wildfire strikes. Defensible space is the buffer you create between buildings and the vegetation that surrounds them to prevent structures from catching fire, either from direct flame contact or radiant heat. Creating ample buffer zones not only increases the chances of your home surviving a fire on its own, but it also gives firefighters a safer location from which to defend your home. In fact, fire crews are more likely to spend time and prioritize defending your property if you have taken steps to limit fuel loads around your buildings.

Creating defensible space around your home does not mean you need a ring of bare dirt surrounding your property; with proper planning, you can have a fire safe home and a beautiful landscape. The general concept is that trees should be kept farthest from the house, shrubs can be closer, and lawns and bedding plants can be the closest, with a noncombustible buffer withing 5 feet from the structure. If your landscaping has a different configuration than this, you can improve defensibility by keeping larger trees limbed up and shrubs free of dead, dry material.

How to Participate in the Community Chipping Program

START CUTTING YOUR VEGETATION in advance of your scheduled neighborhood clean-up date. Focus your efforts within 100’ of structures and roadways, in the area known as your “Defensible Space Zone”. Learn more about creating defensible space here. Schedule a complimentary Wildfire Preparedness Evaluation by following this link to learn what improvements you should make around your home Schedule Eval

  • No pre-booking is necessary, simply place branches at the roadside adjacent to your property, or designated drop off site if you live on narrow private roads, by the set-out deadline for your area. 
  • If the vegetation is not easily seen from the street or you have questions about where you should stack you piles, please contact Project Manager Kate Furlong at to ensure it is marked for removal.
  • Chipping in each area will take up to two weeks to complete. The number of days spent on each area depends on the amount of brush set out and the number of residents participating in the program. 

Vegetation must be longer than 3 feet, less than 16 inches in diameter, and stacked at the curb of your roadway with cut ends pointing toward the road to be chipped. Leaves, succulents, pine needles, palm fronds, stumps, branches with thorns, vines, bamboo, root balls, grasses, and other small trimmings CANNOT be chipped.

Properly dispose material that is not able to be chipped in the provided green waste roll-off containers. The containers will arrive the Wednesday prior to the scheduled chipping start date and will remain in place for 7 days. The containers are only for the vegetation that cannot be chipped and are not to be used for trash disposal. No non-compostable materials (painted or preserved lumber, trash, metal wire, etc.) construction waste, building materials, or household waste will be permitted.

CHIPPING SCHEDULE: Crews will start chipping on the Monday of your neighborhood’s scheduled week. To participate in the program, all material needs to be in place by 8:00 am Monday morning. The identified schedule must be followed so all participants can be included in the program.

ROADSIDE TREE TRIMMING: In addition to providing free vegetation chipping services, SBCFSC will be Tagging and Trimming Roadside tree branches to provide adequate roadside clearance for emergency vehicles and safe evacuation routes for residents. These branches will be removed by a professional tree service during the scheduled neighborhood project. 

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a complimentary home evaluation survey, please contact our Project Manager Kate Furlong at



Funding for this project was provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Fire Prevention Program as part of the California Climate Investments Program.

“SBCFSC Community Chipping Program, is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment– particularly in disadvantaged communities. The Cap-and-Trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling, and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are located within and benefiting residents of disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households across California. For more information, visit the California Climate Investments website at:”