Encouraging Clover in Your Lawn

March 20, 2020

Benefits of Clover

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.

Establishing clover in a lawn

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.

Species of clover to use

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

14 comments on "Encouraging Clover in Your Lawn"

  1. Eric Wenger says:

    This is incorrect in so many ways, including the most important – the facts.
    University of Maryland and other university testing shows that clover and micro-clover do not make good lawns or hold up under the stress of summer.
    Failing clover allows for the invasion of other highly invasive weeds.

    Improved Tall Fescue is superior for establishing a lawn in the mid-Atlantic Transition Zone – where Montgomery County is located.

    Thanks for allowing facts to be included in your blog.

    1. Justine says:

      How do clover lawns not hold up during summer? My parents had one and we never had that problem. I have several patches on my lawn that are thriving.

      1. Cam says:

        I live in the desert and my clover is thriving and the existing grass is struggling, it is definitely holding up to the stress of summer.

      2. Sheri says:

        You are not correct. I have mostly clover and it feeds itself along with the lawn. No watering and always green. No chemicals.

      3. Eric Wenger says:

        Clover is killed by southern blight, Sclerotium rolfsii. Clover is quite sensitive to this pathogenic disease.
        Clover is not a friend to grass lawns. Clover takes over and crowds out lawn grasses. Clover does not share the nitrogen it fixes in the soil, with grasses. That isn’t entirely true, once the clover dies, the nitrogen becomes available to other plants. Of course by that time, the grass has thinned out and disappeared and other weedy species fill in.
        I am referring specifically to lawns in the Mid-Atlantic Region.

    2. Gail Fisher says:

      A more comprehensive discussion on this can be found here: https://plantscience.psu.edu/reduce-runoff/questions-about-microclover.

      The issue of clover die-back was associated with unusual heat during the summer the Univ of MD conducted the research.

      1. Eric Wenger says:

        Thank you for the follow up information which verifies the information that I wrote about clover and micro-clover in the mid-Atlantic Region. It is nice to see some actual science being practiced and not just politics.

  2. Sheri says:

    Once you let lawn chemicals into your lawn you will have a constant struggle. Mother earth’s design never included chemicals.

  3. Such a nice blog on the clover lawns.I like the way they have researched and presented it in front of us. Such illustrations are given that a layman could even understand. It is an easy to comprehend blog which can be instigated by all at least once. I am sure many people will come to read this in future. I found this Urbanturfsolutions.co.nz Having loads of data, if possible do have a look.

  4. LaVetta says:

    We love our choice to let clover take over!

  5. neil shackleford says:

    The climate is becoming so savage and unpredictable that we need to adapt our thinking. If something can grow unassisted where my grass is struggling, then i’m grateful for it. 8 billion people and counting. A world that could change faster than we can adapt. I switched from lawn to fruit trees and vegetables years ago. Clover in between for mulch and bee food. I sit back and enjoy the harvest instead of sitting on a mower., and my garden is cooler now. Its time to start thinking about the impact of our wants and needs.

    1. Elle Harbaugh says:

      Great thoughts.

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