After we ripped out the lawn and before we began to plant, I started gathering cardboard boxes and stacks of newspaper so we could do sheet mulching at the same time we planted.
You can Google “sheet mulching” or “lasagna gardening” and get tons of links about the process but at its most basic level it means covering the dirt with a layer of cardboard or several layers or newspapers so as to create a weed barrier. You dig through the cardboard/newspaper layers to plant, put your mulch on top of the cardboard/newspapers and then let the worms and time break down the layers while keeping the weeds at bay.
Very simple and it works.
Some things we learned in the process, do small areas at time. Wet the ground, then lay out the cardboard/newspaper layers. Wet them too. Then plant and mulch and water again.
Here are a few links that explain it in more detail if you want.