The typical type of mulch that is commonly used in gardens is wood chips. It is the least expensive option and gives you the traditional look. But there are other options, such as decomposed granite. Sure the color is different than bark mulch, but the look might just be the punch of wow your neighborhood needs. It adds a little something.
In this garden in Costa Mesa, the design is simple using California native plants and working with existing hardscape. The pow comes from using decomposed granite as mulch.