Clover Lawns: A Way To Fertilize And Have A Temporary Lawn?
April 30, 2022
If you want to grow a green lawn, you might consider planting clover instead of grass. While this might sound strange because clover is sometimes thought to be a weed, it’s been growing in popularity as a lawn alternative. This is because it doesn’t need any fertilizers or chemicals to grow.
Can you seed clover into your current lawn? You can plant clover in your existing grass, and it’s usually mixed with popular grasses such as bluegrass and fescue.
Let’s explore what you need to know about clover lawns. Are they a good choice for you? Here’s what you should know.
What Are Clover Lawns?
A clover lawn is a lawn that can be completely made of clover or it can contain a blend of clover and lawn grass.
Clover contains large broad leaves that produce an excellent ground cover. It also blooms into small white flowers, so it’s very pretty and this is one of the reasons why it’s becoming so popular.
There are two main types of clover that are used as lawns. These are:
Microclover is the term for clover varieties that have a small number of flowers and small leaves. They don’t grow in clumps like larger varieties of clover, which makes them better for handling foot traffic. If you love to walk around on your lawn barefoot, then you’ll love how soft microclover feels on your skin.
Microclover has some important properties. These include the following:
It grows well in full sun conditions, but if you’re planting it in shade it will also thrive.
It doesn’t grow a large number of flowers, which can make it a more appealing type of ground cover.
Dutch white clover
This is another popular type of clover. It has larger leaves and flowers than microclover varieties. It attracts bees and other pollinators, and it stays green throughout the year. Dutch white clover has large root systems so it’s resilient and durable.
Dutch clover can grow in both full sun and partial shade.
It’s strong enough to deal with very hot summer temperatures.
It blooms from spring all the way through fall, so it’s ideal for you if you want to add beauty in the form of flowers to your lawn.
Besides the above, there are some other types of clover that homeowners are interested in purchasing. These include the following:
Strawberry clover. This is a robust type of clover, even more, durable than white clover. It chokes weeds, which makes it ideal if you want to keep weeds at bay. It’s ideal for cooler climates and it’s appropriate for clay soil.
Red clover. This type of clover grows taller than white clover. You might love that it has purple flowers which makes it very attractive. However, it’s got bigger seeds than white clover so you should seed it over existing lawns.
What Are The Benefits Of A Clover Lawn?
Clover lawns are strong and resilient. They provide you with many advantages, such as the following:
Clover lawns are tolerant to drought conditions.
They don’t require fertilizers or chemicals in order to grow. This makes them easy to maintain.
They stay green all year-’round in northern lawns.
Clover draws nitrogen from the environment to nourish the soil.
Clover isn’t susceptible to weeds. This is because clover leaves cast some shade over the soil. This makes it difficult for weeds to grow and compete with the grass for nutrients.
Clover is cost-effective. Clover leaves generally cost around $4 per 4,000 square feet, so they’re pretty affordable.
Clover smells lovely. It has a fresh and light fragrance, and since it doesn’t require fertilizers or chemical treatments it will smell better than grass lawns.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Clover Lawns?
Although clover lawns have many benefits, they also have some disadvantages. These include the following:
Clover can stain clothing, and this can be difficult to remove.
Clover is not very tolerant of heavy foot traffic. If you want to improve its tolerance, you have to mix it with grass to make it stronger.
Clover is a short-lived perennial so you might have to replant it every three years.
Clover attracts lots of bees. While this is great to assist in the planting of new flowers, if you’re allergic to bees it can be problematic.
Clover isn’t ideal for planting a lawn that attracts wildlife. Wildflowers, low grasses, and native sedges are much more appropriate as they will bring a wider variety of critters to your lawn.
How To Plant A Clover Lawn
If you want to plant clover in your lawn, the best time of year in which to do this is spring. Sow two or three pounds of clover seed per 1,000 square feet. The great thing is that clover will germinate in about a week or less!
Prepare your soil and lawn. You should do this a few weeks before you add clover seed to your lawn. Mow the grass as close to the ground as you can early in spring. Then, rake away any debris and thatch.
Choose the best time to plant clover. This should be done in the spring to protect the clover from cold weather conditions. It requires temperatures of above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, plus when planted in spring it will benefit from rain.
Get the right soil pH. Clover wants to be planted in loamy or sandy soil that has a pH between 6 and 7, so test the soil to be sure that it’s the correct pH.
To toss the seeds, you can use your hands. Walk up and down, dropping lines of seeds as you walk. Then, walk from east to west so that you drop seeds in a crisscross fashion. However, make sure you mix the seed with fine sand as this makes it easier to spread the clover on the ground.
If you want to mix grass and clover, don’t apply both seeds at the same time. This will cause the grass and clover to clump when they grow. Instead, apply the clover first and then apply the grass seeds.
Once you’ve applied the seeds, you should rake the ground. Cover it lightly with a bit of soil.
Water the seeds. You should water them until they become established. Water them every day for two weeks until they start to sprout. When the clover seedlings start to grow leaves you’ll be able to water your lawn a lot less.
Is A Clover Lawn Easy To Maintain?
The benefits of a clover lawn include that it’s very easy to maintain. This will reduce your gardening costs. Here are top reasons why it’s easy to look after and grow clover.
Clover lawns don’t need to be watered a lot. They have deep root systems which make them tolerate shady and sunny conditions without suffering. You only have to water your clover once a season, and you won’t have to worry about it becoming brown.
Clover lawns are able to fertilize themselves. Clover is a natural fertilizer that has nitrogen so it doesn’t require fertilizer. As a bonus, clover also nourishes plants with nutrients, so it’s great for helping surrounding grass and plants to grow in a healthy way.
Clover lawns don’t have to be mowed often. Many clover varieties can grow up to around eight inches in height and you don’t have to mow them often. You might have to mow them once in the middle of summer to remove their old flowers, but otherwise, you don’t have to do this. In fact, their deadhead blooms attract insects such as honeybees, so that’s a bonus.
Clover lawns don’t need herbicides. In fact, you shouldn’t use herbicides on any type of plant that isn’t grass. These can stunt the growth of your clover lawn.
Is Clover A Weed?
About 50 years ago, clover started to become classified as a weed. This was also around the time when broadleaf herbicides started to become popular. These herbicides kill most plants, so as these started to be used more frequently in gardens, clover was naturally removed from lawns.
Herbicides, which are toxic, are starting to fall out of favor with many people. This has resulted in a clover lawn comeback, which is why it’s becoming more popular.
So, is clover a weed? Clover is still thought to be a weed because it’s a wild type of plant that can compete with other cultivated plants in your garden. That said, it doesn’t harm your lawn in the same way that other types of weeds will, and it has many benefits when left to grow in your lawn.
Why Is Clover Growing In Your Lawn?
Maybe you’re not choosing to plant clover but it’s just appearing in your lawn. How does this happen? There are various factors that can cause clover to grow in your grass. These include the following:
Your soil pH is unbalanced. Clover thrives in conditions that are not suitable for your grass to grow, which is why an unbalanced soil pH attracts clover.
Your soil doesn’t have nutrients. If your soil isn’t packed with nutrients, such as nitrogen, which can cause your grass to battle to grow, this can actually attract clover. In this way, if you notice that clover is taking root in areas of your lawn, this could be a sign that your soil doesn’t contain enough nitrogen.
Your soil is very compacted. Clover can handle growing in compacted soil much better than grass, and this is because of how it has longer roots so it can gain access to water that’s located deeper in the ground.
What If You Want To Eliminate Clover From Your Lawn?
If you don’t want clover to grow in your lawn, you can naturally remove it. Here are some of the most effective tips:
Keep your lawn fertilized. This nourishes the soil so that grass can grow in a healthy way and keep clover away.
Keep grass tall when you mow it. If you cut your grass too short, it will stress it out and give clover a chance to grow instead. Taller grass blocks out the sunlight so weeds, such as clover, can’t grow.
Pull up the clover by hand. This is great to do if you can see clover is growing in your lawn and it’s just starting to sprout. Just make sure that you pull up its roots!
Clover crowds out broadleaf plants such as dandelions, as well as other plants that can be invasive in grass lawns.
Does clover multiply?
Clover does multiply and it does this very quickly as a result of sending out stolons that separate from the main plant to create new clover. This is why it’s so great for filling in empty areas of your lawn.
If you want a low-maintenance lawn, you should consider growing a clover lawn. This is resistant to weeds and drought, plus it’s much easier to maintain than a regular grass lawn. In this article, we’ve featured some important tips you need to know if you want to grow clover, whether on its own or with your grass.
Rebecca Vargas is an experienced gardener and landscaper and has been rendering professional services for many years. Her services cover both private homes and commercial properties. Leveraging that rich experience, Rebecca Vargas now dedicates a chunk of time to show just about anyone how to maintain their garden and yard, whether at home or workplace. GreenIQ is his way of reaching and teaching millions of homeowners across the globe about proper gardening and lawn care practices.