Aside from sometimes having to do a little dance not to step on plants, it is difficult to keep out the weeds. Last year I tried spreading straw on the paths as an inexpensive solution, but that didn't really help much at all. The weeds still grew, and not only that, but apparently no-see-ums love to live in straw. My ankels and calves were not happy.
So this year I tried something new I read on gardenweb. First I laid down a thick layer of cardboard, then covered that with playground mulch. It is actually pine wood chips and smells quite nice. We really didn't want to lug individual bags from Lowe's, and there weren't any other decent places to buy it in the area so I ended up ordering some for delivery from a mulch supply company. You could only order it in cubic yards, and only whole yards, not half. So although I knew we probably only needed at most 1.75 yards, I had to order 2 whole cubic yards.
Well, of course the day we set aside for shoveling was a very unseasonable 87 degrees F, with broiling hot sun and humidity! I'm pregnant too, so my poor sweet husband had to do all the bending to weed, and shoveling himself while I raked it into place. That was a lot of work!!! The poor man had nightmares on Saturday night about the piles of mulch we still had to finish on Sunday. haha
But, I think the result was worth it. It looks so much neater without all those weeds! And we had so much extra mulch we had to pile it on really thick, so I think this should work to keep the weeds from growing. We still have about 4 - 5 big garbage bags full leftover. Anybody want to buy some mulch cheap?! lol