Why Micro Clover Lawns Are Better Than Grass
Are micro clover lawns better than grass? You can easily decide that for yourself once you read over this giant list of pros . First, lets start with the fact that clover fixes nitrogen in the soil flourish.
1. Nitrogen Fixer: clovers are actually legumes, which improve the fertility and health fo the soil. By pulling nitrogen compounds from the atmosphere, and in turn putting that back into the soil, clover acts as a great natural fertilizer. Grass that is intermixed with clover will be healthier and greener, because of this nitrogen-fixing aspect.
2. Less Fertilizer: because of its nitrogen-fixing abilities, clover does not have to be fertilized. It acts as its own natural fertilizer!
3. Drought Resistant: with its deep roots, micro clover is much more tolerant to drought than most grasses and will remain green even when the rest of the lawn turns brown. Clover will also remain green during the hottest months of the year when the rest of your lawn may be turning brown. It also turns green very early in the season, and remains green until frost starts to set in.
4. No Mowing: as mentioned above, micro clover doesnt require mowing, and if you do choose to mow, it doesnt have to be as often as a grass lawn. At full height, micro clover will reach about 6 inches un-mowed, and 4 inches if mowed every now and then.
How To Grow A Micro Clover Lawn
Getting rid of your current lawn to plant clover instead isnt a process that happens over night. You can grow a micro-clover lawn in just about any season, but it is best if you sow during spring or early summer when temperatures are still cool. If you plant too late in the fall, it might not germinate till next spring.
You can attempt to overseed an established lawn with micro clover by raking the lawn well, and scratching the surface a bit. Then, sow at a rate of 1/4 to 1/2 lb per 1000 square feet. Keep the soil moist until germination.
To sow a clover-only lawn, utilize these steps below :
1. Remove Existing Lawn
While over-seeding an already existing lawn is possible, it isnt as effective as removing the lawn first. If the seeds are broadcast over an existing lawn, germination will be greatly reduced . Removing your existing lawn would be the first step if you want a full-coverage micro clover lawn.
2. Cover with Topsoil
The next step is to lay down an inch or more of fresh topsoil to the planting area to give the new seedlings a helping hand at growing. Topsoil will help retain moisture for the first couple weeks after planting.
3. Spread the Seeds
Water your clover until it is fully established . Ten minutes of the sprinkler twice a day is sufficient, but water according to your needs .
5. Allow Grace Period to Establish
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Spray A Vinegar Solution
Create your own non-toxic weed killer with this natural home remedy.
- Mix one cup of vinegar with a cup of water and one drop of dish soap.
- Shake it up and spray it onto any patches of clover. The vinegar will dry out the clovers leaves, and the dish soap will make sure it sticks.
- You may need to spray over a series of weeks to kill off the clover completely. Unfortunately, the vinegar can damage grass, so spray the solution carefully.
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Beneficial Clover In Lawns
Master gardener Paul James takes a lot of flack for his stance on weeds, specifically his recommendation that lawns should contain a small percentage of weeds. This recommendation is based on the belief that weeds promote biodiversity and thereby reduce pest and disease problems. Weeds also provide food and nesting sites for beneficial insects, and tolerating weeds will help make chemical herbicides obsolete.
Choosing The Best Clover For Your Lawn
The types of clover generally used in lawns are strawberry clover, white clover or red clover. These are all perennial clovers, as opposed to annual clover types that complete their life cycles in a single year. Annuals reproduce only from seed, while perennials propagate through both seed and spreading roots. All clovers have deep roots, which helps keep lawns green during dry, hot spells, and they all fix nitrogen, meaning that they work with nitrogen-fixing bacteria to convert nitrogen from the air and transfer it into the soil.
- Strawberry clover: Strawberry clover lawns are popular, and Scotts clover lawn seed mix is based on strawberry clover . The Agriculture and Natural Resources department of the University of California reports that strawberry clover is a more robust plant than white clover, although white clover is more often used in lawns. Strawberry clover is excellent at choking out weeds, therefore helping gardeners avoid spraying herbicides or pesticides. Be aware, however, that it has been bred for cooler climates, according to McKay Grass Seeds, making it less desirable in very hot southern or desert climates. It does, however, tolerate poor, clay soils and is somewhat salt-tolerant.
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How Clover Has Historically Been Used In Lawns
The type of clover most often used on and in place of lawns today is white clover.
More specifically, this is Dutch white clover or just Dutch clover. Its Latin name is Trifolium repens.
When looking at the history of lawns youll learn that up until as late the 1950s, it was common to include clover in your lawn because it was considered a way of promoting healthy grass through natural fertilization .
All of this ended when it became common to apply broadleaf herbicide.
These herbicides werent developed to treat clover, but when it was discovered that they killed clover in addition to other broadleaf weeds , the companies producing these herbicides decided marketing it as a clover killer would be good for business.
Produce a product that says it kills clover in lawns and market it and people will soon believe that clover needs to be eliminated from their lawn.
The plan worked.
Planting And Maintaining A Clover Lawn
- Clover lawns can be established by encouraging already-existing clover patches in your landscape, by seeding, or a combination of both.
- Clover is best seeded in early spring from mid-March to mid-April. It can also be seeded in fall. Tiny clover seeds are difficult to sow evenlyone way to improve your chances is to mix the seed in with some soil, sawdust, or sand. If you don’t have any in your lawn or nearby, you may need to add a bacterial inoculant to promote the best growth if you do already have it in your lawn, however, the inoculant is probably already present in the soil.
- After planting, use a misting attachment to water daily until you can see the seedlings.
- Existing clover patches can be encouraged by mowing with the blades set at 1.52 inches, which favors clover over most traditional turf grasses.
- In the middle of summer, stop mowing to encourage clover to flower and seed.
- Once established, most clovers are low-growing and require little or no mowing, unless you wish to discourage bees by mowing to prevent summer blooms.
- Never apply herbicides to a clover lawn.
- Clover is a short-lived perennial and may require reseeding approximately once every three years to maintain consistent coverage. It may successfully reseed naturally, however, or wild clovers may move in and take over aging stands.
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Planting & Maintaining A Clover Lawn
If you have a clover lawn, do not use herbicides.
Photo by pxhere
Compared to grass, clover needs to be maintained differently. Learning to maintain and care for a clover lawn properly is easy and worth it. Here is how to do it:
- Mid-March to mid-April is the best time to plant clover. However, clovers can also be planted in fall if you have missed this window.
- Tiny clover seeds are challenging to spread uniformly. One way to solve this issue is by combining the seed with sand, dirt, or sawdust.
- After sowing the seeds, sprinkle the soil with a misting attachment every day until you can see the seedlings emerging.
- Once established, most clovers grow slowly and dont need much mowing unless you want to deter bees by preventing summer blossoms.
- Since cloves are a perennial with a short lifespan, they will need to be reseeded every two to three years to maintain good coverage.
- Clover lawns should never have herbicides applied to them.
If You Aren’t Into Bees It May Not Be For You
If you let your clover lawn flower, it will attract buzzing bees to your yard. This might be an issue for someone who’s allergic to bees or has young children who might step on them. Keeping your clover lawn cut short will keep the bees awaybut it’ll also reduce those nitrogen-fixing and biodiversity-promoting benefits, so it’s a trade-off.
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Clover Kills Other Weeds
Clover is resilient, and its strength actually smothers other weeds. If your mower is tired of picking up those pesky, hard-to-kill weeds, clover may be the way to go. Growing clover does not allow room for typical lawn weeds to thrive, meaning the lawns you mow could be weed-free and beautiful!
Those are just a few ways that clover can benefit lawn grass. Not only is the use of clover organic, inexpensive, and easy, it’s also very effective. There’s a reason this lawn plant is coming back in a big way and being mixed with conventional turf grasses there are just too many benefits to clover, and you don’t even need to find a four-leaf clover to make it work!
Creating Clover Lawn How To Do It:
Clover is best suited to clay or sandy loam soils with a pH between 6 and 7. Use a soil test kit or pH meter to determine the pH of your soil. If your soil is not in this desired range, you can adjust the soil pH with lime or peat moss .
The best time to plant clover is after the last frost in spring, from mid-March to mid-April. Then spring rains will also help the new plants get established. At this time, the competition, i.e. grasses, does not yet have the nutrients they need. Fall planting may also be possible if you live in an area with mild fall weather. Temperatures should remain above 4°C to allow clover to establish before winter.
As mentioned above, lawn specialists recommend using both clover and grass seed to get the healthiest lawn possible. However, dont distribute these different types of seeds together because clover seeds are so small and usually clump together easily. Instead, determine the desired ratio of clover to grass and distribute the seeds separately.
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It Doesn’t Need Pesticides
Clover also stands up well to insect pests, so that’s another good reason not to douse the soil with toxic insect-killing things, hurray! The reason for this is that often nitrogen-rich fertilizers are what attract diseases and pests in the first place, but because clover doesn’t need those fertilizers , those pests don’t find it nearly so attractive.
Why Does My Lawn Have Clover
Traditional clover otherwise known as White Clover or Dutch clover in your lawn could be a signal that your grass is starving.
Grass needs nitrogen but must obtain that nutrient from the soil. Nitrogen from rainwater and granular fertilizer penetrates the soil and feeds your grass.
Clover, on the other hand, is a legume and it absorbs nitrogen from the air.
It can therefore thrive even if the soil is nitrogen deficient. If clover arrives in your lawn without an invitation, your lawns grass is probably ailing and you need to support your yards soil by top-dressing it with compost, and/or spreading organic fertilizer.
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Why Some People Might Not Want Clover Lawns
The benefits of growing a micro clover lawn far outweigh the negatives. But there are still a couple reasons why people might not want a full clover lawn :
1) Clover stains clothing more easily than grass. However, this is more so for regular white clover than micro clover.
2) Clover might have to be reseeded every 2-3 years to maintain even stand in pure clover lawns .
3) Clover is not durable enough for high-traffic areas. So if you make a lot of use out of your backyard, playing sports and roughing around on the lawn, you might want to consider grass instead.
Why Clover Is No Longer Popular
If youve ever tried to grow or maintain a lush, green lawn, you know how difficult it can be. It involves proper watering schedules, mowing heights, re-seeding rates, and weed management.
It also involves the use of herbicides. Before the mass production of herbicides, and before the commercial landscaping industry began promoting a flawlessly uniform grass lawn, clover was frequently mixed with grass seeds.
However, herbicides kill clover, so the plant was rebranded as a weed and removed from seed mixes to not interfere with the mass use of herbicides.
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How To Add The Right Clover To Your Lawn
Turfgrass is losing its status as the golden child of groundcovers as gardeners look towards greener pastures. Clover has been getting a lot of buzz as a low-maintenance and eco-friendly lawn alternative or additive. Keep reading to find out what to expect from clover as a lawn alternative and how to add the right clover to your lawn.
How To Add Clover To A Lawn
It Can Help Fill Out Bare Patches Of Lawn
If you already have a lawn but it’s seen better days, sprinkling some clover on top of it will help it look more even. Once your clover lawn is in, it’ll also stay pretty resilient to daily wear and tear. Murphy notes that this makes it a great option for households with dogs who love to run around.
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Why Clover Is Not Popular & Why It Should Be
Lets face it, growing and maintaining a grass lawn is difficult. You will need to stay on top of watering, mowing height, seeding, and controlling weeds.
Also, youll need to apply fertilizer and herbicides .
We often think of grass-only lawns as looking like this:
Unfortunately, due to the labor-intensive nature of grass-only lawns, we end up with something that looks more like:
Clover was often added to grass mixes in the past- and clover was often the sign of an excellent lawn.
Herbicides became popular when mass production took the commercial industry by storm in the 1950s. And companies began promoting monoculture grass lawns- using mixes that only had Kentucky bluegrass and fescue.
Clover was rebranded as a weed as the broad-leaved herbicide killed clover. And the companies wanted to continue to sell their products.
This shifted peoples perceptions of lawns. Now, the perfect image of a lawn was grass-only.
But, as we will discuss, this was flawed. Clover should not have been the enemy of the lawn.
As energy and water costs continue to rise, many homeowners are looking for alternatives to the labor-intensive American lawn that they have been sold.
What Are The Maintenance Needs Of Clover
Listed below are a few tips for clover lawn care.
- Avoid using herbicides: Herbicides will kill any plant other than grass, which includes clover, hence avoid them.
- Use little to no nitrogen fertilizer: Clover fixes its own nitrogen, so you dont need to fertilize your clover lawn repeatedly.
- Mow sparingly to keep your clover looking tidy: If you want 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 gives the lawn organic matter to fertilize the soil.
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Clover Lawn Also Has Some Disadvantages:
- It stains clothing more easily than grass.
- It is not hardy enough for playing fields or areas with heavy traffic unless mixed with grass.
- White clover is hardy and perennial, but rather short-lived. Ideally, clover reproduces by self-seeding it is usually necessary to reseed the clover lawn from time to time.
- It is very moist under the small clover leaves and slugs like this very much. Here we have listed 10 home remedies for pests in the garden.
Natural Source Of Fertilizer
Perhaps the biggest benefit of adding clover to your lawn is the fertility factor. Clover is a natural source of fertilizer and provides nutrients to the grass around it. In a process known as nitrogen fixation, clovers and other legumes are able to take unusable nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into a usable form of nitrogen called ammonium. As a result, grass intermixed with clover is healthier, greener and more vigorous than grass alone. This same process can also be applied to the pasture. White clover, red clover and alsike clover can fix hundreds of pounds of nitrogen per acre, significantly reducing fertilizer costs for farmers and ranchers.
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Whats Causing Clover In My Lawn
There are multiple reasons you could have clover sprouting up in your lawn, most of which have to do with your soil.
- Wrong Soil pH: The ideal soil pHhow alkaline or acidic the soil isfor most lawns is between 6.0 and 7.0. If your lawns soil is too acidic, it will be harder for grass to grow, and much easier for clover. Luckily, you can use soil amendments like lime to balance out the pH.
- Poor Nitrogen Levels: Clover thrives in soil with poor nitrogen levels. Grass needs nitrogen in the soil to grow well, while clover can obtain the nitrogen it needs from the air, effectively making its own fertilizer. Your soil may be low in nitrogen because youve used too much fast-acting fertilizer. While they promote rapid grass growth, they can ultimately lower your soil quality. Switching to organic fertilizer like manure or corn meal can help you avoid this.
- Compacted soil: Compacted soil prevents your grass from getting the nutrientsincluding nitrogenair, and water it needs. Luckily, you can break up compaction with a core or spike aerator.