The high temps are flirting with 60 degrees this weekend, so finally I can get back out in the garden. I'm experimenting with using newspaper as a weed barrier this year. I tried it last summer in the tomato bed with a fair amount of success, so we'll see how it works on a larger scale.
I loosely spaded the bed to break up and aerate the soil up a bit. Next I added a couple of inches of compost on the surface. I'm not a "No-till" purist, but I'd like to maintain the soil structure as best I can. That's why I was happy to find a Big Lil' Hoe tiller on Craigslist for cheap last August. It lets me work up the top few inches and mix in compost and manure without digging down too deep.
After a couple of passes, I laid down newspaper 3-4 layers thick. I got it wet as I went to prevent it from blowing away.Once I was done, I put some straw over the top. This will keep the newspaper in place, help retain moisture, and makes it look a little nicer. At this point, I can plant seeds by clearing away a little of the straw and poking holes in the newspaper. Later on, I'll be able to transplant seedlings the same way.
You could use weed cloth or plastic ( I've tried both), but the cloth is kinda pricey, and I hate throwing away all of that plastic at the end of the season. Not only are old newspapers environmentally friendly, but they're free - my favorite price range. Hopefully this works out as well as it did last year.