A while ago, I spoke of the benefits of adding woodchips to garden beds. They act as a buffet feeding all the living microorganisms in the soil. For a more finished look, I still use bark mulch on the edge of the beds.
This time of year we often see landscapers raking or blowing yards and yards of bark mulch into the garden. I realized many years ago that it is really only necessary to mulch the front ten or twelve inches of beds that are densely planted for that is all that is seen when garden plants mature in the summer.
Mulching here helps to prevent weed seed from growing and keeps the lawn edge from drying out. Garden edge mulching– better for the budget, better for the back!