I save the Sunday paper each week. Colored coupons don't last - they turn to powdery dust, but the plain old newprint can last up to two or three years if covered and not exposed to sunlight. It's cheap and really does a great job of retaining moisture in this hot dry bed, as well as good weed control.
I clean the area of all weeds place the dry newprint in layers about 8 sheets of paper thick and spray lightly with the hose pipe (garden hose). Then I cover the wet newsprint with a thick layer of pinestraw. The final product makes me happy. Schools out - I get two months to destress and work in the yard.