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You can get free bark mulch from your sanitation or public works departments, which recycles yard cuttings and organic debris. Also, companies that clear limbs around power lines often make wood chips and give them away rather than paying for disposal. Get the number from your utility bill or call a local tree trimmer.
You do have to be careful when you take any mulch or compost from an open source. Look at the piles before you take anything.
Are there a bunch of weeds growing out of the pile? If so, that's what you're putting into your garden. Even if you try to take from a cleaner part of the pile; you're getting a lot of weeds.
You can heat mulch enough to get rid of most of the weeds with black containers and lots of sunshine...you simply continue the composting process.
Also weed carefully daily for a week or two after taking the free stuff. If you stop invasive weeds before they take hold; you'll be much better off than waiting until there's a lot to weed and roots have taken hold.