Think Clover

Rethinking clover

There was a time before the advent of modern herbicides and their widespread use in lawns that clover was considered an essential part of a healthy lawn. The quality of a grass seed was determined by the amount of clover seed that was in it. Homeowners and farmers knew then what we are now rediscovering, clover and grass grow very well together and work together for mutual benefit. Clover fell out of favor in the early 1950’s when herbicides were marketed to homeowners that killed all lawn weeds, including beneficial clover. Many people are now realizing the dangers of blanket pesticide use and looking for safer ways to cultivate a healthy, green lawn. Clover is making its big comeback.

Some of the benefits of a clover lawn

  • Clover grows well in shaded and poor soil areas where grass has difficulty.
  • Clover can help crowd out weed growth. 
  • Clover is drought tolerant.
  • Clover is a nitrogen fixing plant and will actually provide beneficial nitrogen to your lawn.
  • Clover is more tolerant of pet urine than turf grass. 
  • Flowering clover is a favorite of honeybees and other pollinators.

Biodiversity and Bees

Bees help us greatly by pollinating trees and flowers. Most of the foods at your local grocery store were pollinated by bees or other pollinators. It is our turn to help them out. Make the bees happy by planting a great food source for them, clover. Planting clover will begin transitioning your lawn from monoculture to a more biodiverse ecosystem. Biodiversity is nature’s way and will make your lawn more hospitable to bees and other beneficial insects. Another way to up you property biodiversity is to plant native wildflowers along the edges of your property, or in spots where your lawn can’t thrive. You can also choose to create a wild area of your yard;  leaving an old tree that is naturally rotting, a bare dirt area, or leave some native plants growing wild. Creating these kind of diverse environments and upping plant diversity on your property will help birds, bees, butterflies, beneficial insects, and other wildlife. 

How to Plant Clover

White clover (Trifolium repens) is the favorite type of clover for lawns. White clover is naturally the lowest growing species of clover, it is very tolerant to being cut low, and is very resilient.  There are new varieties of white clover that have been bred to have an even lower profile in your lawn, they go under the brand names micro clover and mini clover.

  • Clover seeds are very small,  only about 1-2 oz are needed to sow 1,000 SQ Ft. of lawn.
  • Similar to overseeding grass you will want to mow your lawn and dethatch any problem areas if needed to help seeds get to the soil. 
  • To add clover to your lawn we suggest you mix it with grass seed when you overseed at a rate of 5-10% of the total mixture. A 5% rate would be 1 LBS clover seed to 19 LBS grass seed. 
  • Another option is to mix clover seed with sand, compost, or other pelletized soil amendment and spread this mix evenly on the desired lawn area.

 

Fertilize your lawn to maintain balance

Clover will reduce your lawns nitrogen needs, but it will not eliminate the need to feed your grass. Feeding your lawn at the right time and with the right nutrients will help keep the grass and clover in a good balance. This is especially important for the early spring feed to give the grass a boost to match clover’s early season growth. Not everyone is ready for clover in their lawn, but more and more people are getting on board with clover and its benefits.