What do you use for mulch in your garden?
On my ornamental beds, I use is a composted stable bedding product–a local agricultural byproduct from horse or dairy farms that has been allowed to age first. It’s simply wood shavings (not too fine, not too coarse, as you can see in top photo) that farmers spread on the floors of animal stalls to absorb manure and urine, and then muck out and compost afterward to recycle it. I expect you can find a local source via your county cooperative extension office; this website give a sense of the kind of product I am talking about, though I buy from a local farmer.
Leaf mold (partially rotted and shredded leaves) would also be great, if your local landfill offers it, or start a leaves-only compost pile in fall and pre-shred it like this.
In my vegetable garden, I use straw (which is of course not dark-colored), preferably chopped. In rough areas such as along the roadside outside my fence, I will use wood chips from the power or phone company, or from a fallen tree. I will also use wood chips or bark chips on utility-area pathways (behind sheds, between vegetable rows). I pile up wood chips and let them age before using them.
For more details about pros and cons of different mulches, try the Cornell Cooperative Extension mulch website.