alternatives to wood/bark mulch
I'm trying to figure out what would be a good alternative to packaged shredded wood or bark mulch that still looks good (to my eyes).
Sawdust looks hokey to me (no offense to those that use it) and leaves look "messy" unless chopped up, and even chopped leaves look better once they've composted a bit and turned darker.
Also, I don't have enough trees that are large enough to supply enough leaves to do the job, so I'd have to purchase them somewhere.
Deep in my brain, I keep thinking a nice mix of finely chopped leaves (to maybe 1/4" pieces) with some compost to give it some darkness, could make a nice, dark, slightly "chunky" mulch that would look good, and not offend the eyes of HOA members inclined to only accept "commercial" mulches.
Now the quesiton - is there something like that I could buy? I guess a partially-composted leaf mold type thing would be what I'm looking for, right?
The other thought was to add just a small amount of wood mulch to give it some thickness.
I basically want something that does the job of holding in moisture and keeping weeds down, but that would more or less break down within a 12 month period.
I thought of just straight compost, since it just looks like dark soil, but I keep thinking that might break down a little TOO fast, plus, weed seeds would sprout pretty easily in that.
What are some other mulch ideas you've done or heard of?