Are you like me, do you put all your shortcuts and important file on desktop so that you can reach them easily. But still want a clean desktop with not many icons. Here is a simple tip I use.
Create a folder called "shortcuts" and put all the crap you have on your desktop in to this folder. Now your desktop is clean. But you say you don't want to open another folder to get your files that's where the trick comes in.
Now if you want all your shortcuts or file, all you have to do is just drag the shortcuts folder to the edge of the screen either to right or left and leave it, walla windows creates a cool taskbar with all your icons, your file etc that you have in that folder. You can even customize the taskbar right click in the blank space on the taskbar. you can autohide, make large icons or small. Show text labels etc.
This have made my desktop look clean and easy to use.
give it a try.