In a technical sense, weeds are really just plants out of place. They are plants that pop up where we don't want them to. Some weeds can be quite attractive. However, most gardeners don't want weeds where they have plants and go to great pains to see that their beds are weed-free.

Weed Control Options

There are many ways to control weeds, and some of them are more effective and definitely safer than others. Many folks will go for the chemical sprays or pellets when it comes to weed control, however, these methods are costly and leave a toxic residue that is harmful to pets, wildlife and people. In addition, chemical-based weed killers are hard to use in and amongst garden flowers as they are often not selective about what they kill.

Here are a few inexpensive ways to organically control weeds.

Boiling Water
When you boil your water for your pasta or potatoes consider repurposing it by immediately draining the pot over your weeds. Wait a couple of days and the weeds should be gone.

Smother Weeds
If you have a large area with determined, low-growing weeds, try smothering them with several layers of newspaper. You can top the newspaper with a layer of mulch to keep it from blowing and for aesthetics. Smothering weeds with mulch deprives them of sunlight, so they will not be able to survive. This is a great way to use old newspapers as they are biodegradable. Don't forget when you create a new bed to place newspaper on the ground first, followed by garden soil and compost. This can keep weeds from sprouting in the first place.

Plant a Living Groundcover
Not only are groundcovers an attractive addition to any garden space but they will also give weeds a run for their money, so to speak. Introducing competition such as groundcover will push the weeds out as the strongest only survives. Choose a groundcover that is suitable for your site and growing region. A note of caution: beware of choosing a groundcover that is touted as "fast growing" - you don't want the groundcover to become a thug in your gaden bed.

Rock salt is often available during the winter season as people use it to melt the ice. It is just as effective during the spring and summer to keep weeds at bay. If you have a patio or garden path, sprinkle some salt on the them to keep the weeds from sprouting in the spring. If you need to create a weed barrier between garden beds and your lawn, try sprinkling some salt along your edge. Carefully consider where to use salt, though. It is non-selective and will weaken or kill your plants just as well as the weeds. If you accidentally get salt too close to your plants, try to remove it and then flush the area to dilute the salt before it reaches the plant roots.

It seems that there is nothing that white vinegar is not good for. This highly useful substance is as effective a weed killer as anything. Mix half water and half vinegar in a spray bottle. This mixture works great for weeds with long taproots such as dandelions, dock and plantain.

With a combination of hand-weeding and these organic methods, you can have a weed-free and toxic-free garden.