Mulch; yes. Good for the soil. But messy, and must be reapplied, and blows about, and contains weed seeds, etc. Etc.
But without mulch, the weeds also come. And the sun bakes down, drying all things.
BUNGCO's Perforated Garden Tiles (actually cast concrete) come in a range of polygonal sizes
and shapes with this common feature: each slopes slightly from the edges in to the center, and in the center is a hole. This hole is large enough for a desirable plant to grow from - possibly planted as a seed in the hole or settled in as a seedling.
No weeds will grow thru the tile itself. The tile protects underlying soil from moisture loss. Water landing on the tile will be routed to the center, to slake the thirst of your desirable plant. Slake, slake. The edges of the tile are supposed to be fitted closely to those of the neighbor tile to discourage weeds at the periphery. If close fitting is too fussy for you, drop some mulch there in between.
The tiles are attractive and durable, lasting many seasons. Tiles are available imprinted with patterns or representation of gardeny things. One might rearrange them each season, or take them up to store them for the winter so that the soil might be replenished. Or leave them be.
Come to the BUNGCO website to see our resident geometer's ideas for alternating a mix of tile shapes, sizes and colors of PGTs for dramatic effect.