Why apply new mulch every year to fight weeds when you can plant something like the lovely Chocolate Bugle Weed (Ajuga reptans) in your beds which looks like mulch from a short distance, and like an adorable little plant close up? There are so many ground covers which prevent weeds better than mulch. Bugle Weed, of which there are many varieties to choose from, stays green (or bronze) year around, and puts up short sprays of purple flowers in late spring. It allows perennials to emerge, and yet suppresses weeds. What could be better? If you worry that the soil will lack enrichment without a new layer of mulch every year, sprinkle some compost and shake it down through the leaves.