Because the area was so overrun with weeds, and had an understory of Ivy and Vinca, we have laying down newspaper first and then spreading bark mulch on top of it my folks swear that it works better than landscape fabrics, it's biodegradable, and cheap. The section I was mulching is to the right (where the mulch looks darker) in amongst the larger shrubs.
Lemme tell you, this newspaper under the mulch technique had better hold up for several years, because it was a real tedious, fussy, pain-in-the-tea-kettle way to mulch a planting bed. The total job took four hours. I probably could have been done in two and a half or three hours if I had been doing the 'dump a wheelbarrow of mulch and spread it with an iron rake' method. But, with all of the unwanted vegetation that had been strangling the shrubs, we needed a more stern approach to weed control. The end result, through, looks pretty good.