Looking for a lower maintenance lawn, but still want that great green coverage? Dealing with a drought but hate dried out brown grass? Clover is a alternative that can possible be the answer to you lawn needs.
What is a clover lawn?
A clover lawn is either all clover or a mixture of traditional grass and clover to give you a complete and full ground coverage. Clover has small white flowers and plentiful broad leaves that cover the ground similar to how grass would. It is technically a legume which means that it captures nitrogen in the atmosphere and releases it to nearby plants, helping your green lawn to stay green. This also means that clover lawns don’t need to be fertilized. Clover plants are drought tolerant and usually won’t require regular watering once they are established.
What types of clover are used?
There are a lot of different verities of clover that can be found in the seed department, however there are two that seem to be the most favored for this type of growth and coverage in creating a lawn like feel.
- 1. Dutch white clover: Dutch white clover, or dwarf white clover, blooms in small white flowers that provide food for bees and other pollinating insects. It stays green year-round. White clover also grows extensive root systems, making it one of the most durable of all clover species.
- 2. Microclover: Microclover refers to small varieties of clover that have tiny leaves and fewer flowers than Dutch clover, though their flowers are still white. Microclover lawns are ideal for foot traffic because they do not grow in clumps like larger species. It is also soft on bare feet.
Pros and Cons to having a clover lawn
- 1. They don’t require much water. Due to their deep roots, clover lawns rarely need to be watered and can tolerate a variety of light conditions from full sun to partial shade. \When they are established, you can water clover lawns only once a season and they will stay green, as opposed to grass lawns which need to be consistently watered.
- 2. Clover lawns feed themselves. Like all legumes, clover is a natural fertilizer that feeds itself with its own nitrogen. This also provides nutrients to other plants and saves gardeners money on fertilizer. Clover is also a natural spreader that accumulates trace minerals from the soil which it then disperses when it decomposes, feeding new growth.
- 3. They don’t require much mowing. Most varieties of cover grow only up to eight inches and need little maintenance. Some homeowners prefer to mow their clover lawns once in midsummer to deadhead old blooms, but this is not required as these attract beneficial insects like honeybees, pest-fighting wasps, and other pollinators.
- 1. Foot traffic can inhibit growth. Unless it is mixed with other grasses, clover is not tough enough on its own to endure high-foot-traffic areas.
- 2. It requires reseeding. Clover is a short-lived perennial so many pure clover lawns may require a new round of seeding every two or three years. In mixed-grass lawns, though, clover will reseed itself easily and does not require any additional help.
- 3. It attracts bees. Clover flowers tend to attract bees, which can be good for planting new flowers. However, if you are allergic to bees or do not want to encourage them to congregate near your home, a clover lawn may not be for you.
How to Plant a clover lawn
- 1. Prepare your lawn and soil. You want to start preparing to plant your clover lawn several weeks before you spread your lawn seed. In the early spring after the first frost has passed, Mow your lawn as close to the ground as possible in the early spring after the first frost has passed. Rake out any uneven thatches, stones, or other debris.
- 2. Check your soil. Clover lawns thrive in sandy or loamy soil with a pH between six and seven. Mix some fine sand into your soil if it is not at the proper pH.
- 3. Start seeding your clover. Mix your clover seed with soil or fine sand and spread over your desired area. The sand will make it easier to spread the clover. Avoid mixing grass and clover seeds together to avoid clumping. You can spread your clover by hand or use a seed diffuser. Follow your clover with grass seeds if you are using them.
- 4. Rake over your seeds. Run a rake over the area where you have seeded your clover or clover/ grass mixture to lightly cover it with soil. You don’t want to cover it with too much soil because this may impede the germination process. Compress the seeds into the ground by running a roller over the area.
- 5. Water your seeds until they are established. Water your clover seeds daily for two weeks until you begin to notice sprouting. Mist your lawn with water if you can. Once the seedlings grow leaves, your lawn is established and you can water your lawn less. Watch out for deer, rabbits, and other clover-eating animals until your clover lawn is fully established.
Simple Guide to Maintenance a clover lawn
- Avoid using herbicides. Herbicides will kill any plant that is not grass, which includes clover. Avoid using herbicides and pesticides which are not necessary for growing clover lawn and may prevent them from growing properly.
- Use little to no nitrogen fertilizer. Clover fixes its own nitrogen, so you don’t need to fertilize your clover lawn regularly. However, if you notice competing grasses starting to overtake your lawn, you can use a low-nitrogen fertilizer to give your clover the phosphorus and potassium it needs to become hardier.
- Mow sparingly to keep your clover looking tidy. If you would like to see fewer bees on your lawn, you can mow down the white clover flowers when they appear. When you mow, leave the clippings on the lawn which provide the lawn with organic matter to fertilize the soil.
Source: MASTERCLASS, Guide to Clover Lawns: How to Grow and Care for a Clover Lawn