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If you are mulching a shrub bed, your base layer needs to be a semi-porous (allowing transfer of air and moisture) weed block. Thickness of mulch depends on type of mulch being used. A good rule of thumb is 3+ inches of mulch over the weed block.
Even with proper preparation, weeds will grow in the bed. But weeds will be much easier to manage.
I'll include a link below for commercial grade weedblock you can find at Home Depot.