I am reclaiming a small fruit orchard, mostly dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees, two rows of concord grapes, and a small row of asparagus. What is the "best" way to keep grass and weeds from the base of the trees and in the rows of grapes and asparagus. "Best" meaning, yes you guessed it, least costly, least work, most effective, preferably no chemicals.
Asparagus does not compete well with weeds. To avoid accidentally breaking off spears, weed each spring before the first shoots come up. During the production period, pull weeds rather than using a hoe.
Organic mulches such as grass clippings, wood chips, straw/hay or compost can be applied 4 to 6 inches thick to suppress weeds as soon as the spears start growing. Rock salt is not recommended. It can damage the soil structure creating a crust that impedes water infiltration. For more information see our Vegetable Profile
Fruit trees and grapes - You can mulch with grass clippings, well rotted manure,
compost, or shredded pine bark. Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and keep away from the base of the trunk. Keep mulch at least 6 inches away from tree fruit trunks during dormancy to prevent vole damage.