I'm not exactly sure how much of a gardener's time is spent weeding, but I think it's a large percentage of the time spent in the garden. This year, in the veggie gardens, I used leaves as mulch and it is working wonders! Sure, there are places where the crabgrass is attempting to take over and I have to pull a weed or three now and then, but percentage of time in the garden spent weeding?---I'd say less than 10%. Another big perk is that as the leaves rot away they are feeding the soil, which has a large percentage of clay in it anyway.
The flower beds around the house are another story. Last fall and winter were spent working on house things--cabinets, floors, and a couple of landscape beds around the house. The one in the front got more attention than the side garden, and I was able to get most of the plants in that I wanted to, and spread a layer of leaves before growing season hit. I've enjoyed watching the bed come alive with hummingbirds on the coral honeysuckle, columbine, and bee balm, hummingbird moths and a myriad of butterflies and goldfinches on the anise hyssop, and butterflies galore on the purple coneflower, black-eyed susans and coreopsis. Also, it's one of those beds that has gotten so full, that weeds don't take over and aren't really so noticeable. As a matter of fact, a HUGE clump of millet came up on its own on the corner and the goldfinches and Indigo Buntings have been wearing it out!
The side garden is another story. It's a sort of a rock garden in that I used a bunch of big flagstones to cover areas and left cracks and spaces between them for plants. I did get a few Black Eyed Susans and a few native shrubs in before garden season hit, but no mulch. The weeds stayed pretty low as long as it was hot and dry out,
but we got a few showers, and today, after a few days of regular showers, I noticed the beginnings of a forest--a ragweed forest! Ragweed can get REALLY tall, like 8 feet plus. Crab grass nicely covers the rest of the ground in this ragweed forest. I've always heard that "Mother Nature" abhors bare ground. Being a CSA farmer consumes all daylight hours during the summer, so when garden season hit, the "pretty beds" were "pretty much" on their own.
Today I couldn't stand it any more. It's too wet to work in the veggie gardens, so I went to the shop, picked up my trusty loppers and cut all the ragweed to ground level. Hey, at least it isn't hampering my vision any more, and I did catch it before it set seed. One can actually see across the bed now.
I won't say that using loppers is the most efficient way to weed, but it will at least keep the bed down to a "dull roar" until it reaches a higher priority on my list.