Despite being thought of as a weed, clover is very beneficial to lawns, and eliminates the need for synthetic fertilizers. Clover converts nitrogen from the air into ammonium, which can be absorbed by grass to make it greener and stronger. Clover will keep lawns looking greener year-round when grasses might need that extra boost of nitrogen. Clover is effective at out-competing weeds and requires less mowing than grass. In addition, clover flowers can feed important insect pollinators in your yard.
Clover once was a required in seed mixes, but after the 1950’s, it was suddenly considered a weed, simply because lawn herbicides became available that killed everything but grass, and companies convinced us it was a weed. Lucky for them, because they could then sell us fertilizers to make up for the free nitrogen the clover provided. For organic lawn care providers, clover in the turfgrass has been a free tool for healthy lawns.
If your yard already has clover in it, leave it and enjoy the benefits of a healthier lawn. If it does not, or you would like to add more clover to you yard, clover seeds are available and can be added to turf grass lawns. You’ll reap the benefits of clover without giving up on the durability of turf grass, especially if your yard gets heavy foot traffic. It is recommended that to seed clover separately from grass, since the difference in seed size and density can cause clover seeds to clump in the bottom of spreaders and seed bags. Clover can be seeded in early spring after the last frost. Make sure your soil is well aerated and be sure to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate (about two weeks). Clover can be reseeded every 2-3 years to help keep new, healthy clover growing.
While most clover species will thrive in a lawn, Trifolium repens, or Dutch white clover is most available. This clover will have larger leaves and taller plants, which can sometimes be aggressive if your lawn grasses are not dense. For those looking for a smaller, lower growing clover that can be easily mowed and blends in more with the grass, look for Trifolium repens ‘Pipolina’, or micro-clover.
If you’ve been going to war on clover in your lawn for years, now you can confidently give up the fight and let some grow! Too much clover for your taste, though? Just pull some out and overseed your lawn in those areas, the clover is simply taking advantage of a niche where there wasn’t any grass.
Post by: Emily Elkonoh