A layer of organic mulch over soil offers many benefits. For example, mulch helps retain soil moisture and suppresses weed seeds from germinating, which significantly reduces the amount of time needed for weeding.
Organic mulch also decomposes slowly, gradually releasing nutrients that encourage plant growth and feed soil organisms. Good options are wood chips, pea straw, lawn clippings, bark chip and even old wool carpet. Old newspapers or cardboard can be effective weed suppressants when covered with other mulch, such as wood chips.
Some plants benefit from non-organic mulch. Heat and dry loving plants like succulents, cacti, bulbs, and some South African plants like proteas, thrive with a mulch of pebbles as they drain quickly and retain heat.