A great eco-friendly way to save you time and effort in your garden as well as making it look great is to apply mulch. This is usually completed in the autumn/winter period and is simply spreading a material such as composted bark over the surface of the soil.
Mulching has many benefits including suppressing weed growth and reducing water loss. This saves you time and benefits plants. If you use a bio-degradable product such as manure, composted bark or mushroom compost, you have the added benefits of adding nutrients and humus to the soil, which with a bit of help from the worms will improve the soil structure.
There are many different types of mulch available on the market: I prefer to use spent mushroom compost, which is a by-product of the mushroom growing industry. It comprises of a mixture of horse/chicken manure and straw and is available from Woodland Horticultures based near Walton, Street, Somerset - http://www.woodlandhp.co.uk/