Planting clover lawn is a dream for many homeowners, but maintaining it can be a hassle. Traditional grass lawns require a lot of water, fertilizer, and maintenance, which can be time-consuming and costly. However, clover lawn is its efficient alternative, becoming increasingly popular among eco-conscious homeowners. Clover lawns have many advantages over traditional grass lawns, including drought tolerance, low maintenance, and natural fertilization.
In this guide, I will discuss the pros and cons of planting a clover lawn, and provide tips on how to successfully plant and maintain it. Whether you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly lawn or just want to save time and money on maintenance, planting a clover lawn may be the perfect solution for you.
What is Clover Lawn?
A clover lawn is a type of lawn that is primarily composed of clover instead of traditional grass. Clover is a low-growing, flowering plant that is often used as a natural ground cover. It is commonly used in lawns because it has several advantages over traditional grasses. Clover lawns require less water and fertilizer, are more drought-tolerant, and require less maintenance.
Additionally, clover produces nitrogen, which helps to fertilize the soil naturally. While some people may view clover as a weed, it can make for an attractive and environmentally-friendly lawn alternative.
There are several types of clover that can be used for lawns, including white clover, red clover, Dutch clover, and so on. Each type has its own characteristics and can be chosen based on individual needs and preferences.
Types of Clover : For Your Lawns
Discover the perfect clover variety for your lawns. From Dutch White Clover to Red Clover, explore the diverse types of clover that not only add lush greenery but also benefit your soil and attract pollinators. Enhance your lawn’s health and beauty with the right clover selection.
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense):
Red clover is another popular clover variety for lawns. It has larger, pinkish-red flowers and is known for its ability to improve soil fertility. Red clover is less tolerant of foot traffic than white clover, so it may not be suitable for areas with heavy use.
Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum):
Crimson clover is a fast-growing variety that is often used as a cover crop. It has bright red flowers and is known for its ability to suppress weeds. Crimson clover is not as well-suited for lawns as white or red clover.
Sweet Clover (Melilotus):
Sweet clover is a taller clover variety that can grow up to four feet tall. It has yellow or white flowers and is often used as a forage crop. Sweet clover is not as well-suited for lawns as white or red clover.
Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens ):
Dutch clover is a type of white clover that has double flowers, giving it a more attractive appearance. It is also known as “shamrock clover” due to its resemblance to the Irish symbol. Dutch clover is often used as a lawn alternative due to its low-growing habit and attractive appearance.
Zigzag Clover (Trifolium medium):
Zigzag clover is a type of white clover that is native to Europe and Asia. It has distinctive, zigzag-shaped stems and can grow up to 15 inches tall. Zigzag clover is often used in mixtures with other clovers and grasses for pasture and hay production.
Ladino Clover (Trifolium repens):
Ladino clover is a type of white clover that has large, vigorous leaves and flowers. It is often used for pasture and hay production, as well as in lawns. Ladino clover is known for its high yield potential and disease resistance.
Yellow Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalis):
Yellow sweet clover is a tall clover variety that can grow up to six feet tall. It has yellow flowers and is often used as a forage crop. Yellow sweet clover is also known for its ability to improve soil fertility.
Berseem Clover (Trifolium alexandrinum):
Berseem clover is a type of clover that is native to Egypt and the Mediterranean. It has pink or white flowers and is often used as a forage crop. Berseem clover is known for its ability to produce high-quality forage and improve soil fertility.
Subterranean Clover (Trifolium subterraneum):
Subterranean clover is a type of clover that is native to the Mediterranean. It has small, pink or white flowers and is known for its ability to grow in low-fertility soils. Subterranean clover is often used in mixtures with other grasses and legumes for pasture and hay production.
Clover Lawn Pros and Cons
Let’s see the pros and cons of planting clover lawns.
Clover Lawn Benefits
Clover lawns, which are lawns composed primarily of clover plants instead of traditional grasses, offer several advantages. Here are some pros of having a clover lawn:
Clover lawns require significantly less maintenance compared to traditional grass lawns. They grow slower, reducing the frequency of mowing. Additionally, clover has a natural ability to fix nitrogen from the air, which reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizers.
Clover is a vigorous plant that spreads and forms a dense ground cover. This helps to suppress weed growth, reducing the need for herbicides. Clover can also outcompete other weeds, leading to a healthier lawn overall.
Clover produces small, fragrant flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. By having a clover lawn, you provide a valuable food source for these beneficial insects, which can contribute to a more diverse and vibrant ecosystem.
Clover is more tolerant of drought conditions compared to many grass species. It has a deep root system that allows it to access moisture from deeper soil layers, making it more resilient during dry periods.
Clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant, meaning it forms a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria in the soil, allowing it to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by plants. As clover grows and dies back, it adds organic matter to the soil, improving its fertility and structure.
Clover lawns have a smaller ecological footprint compared to traditional grass lawns. They require less water, fewer chemicals, and produce less waste, making them a more environmentally friendly landscaping option.
Many people find the appearance of a clover lawn appealing. The lush green foliage and delicate flowers can create a charming and naturalistic look for your outdoor space.
It’s important to note that clover lawns may not be suitable for all situations. For example, if you have specific requirements for a heavily trafficked area or if you prefer a monoculture grass lawn, clover may not be the best choice. Additionally, some people may have allergies to clover pollen, so it’s important to consider that aspect as well.
Clover Lawn Drawbacks
While clover lawns have many advantages, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider. Here are a few cons of having a clover lawn:
Clover produces a pigment called tannin, which can cause stains on clothing or shoes when walked on. If you frequently wear light-colored clothes or if staining is a concern, a clover lawn may not be the best choice for high-traffic areas.
Although clover is generally not considered invasive, some species can spread aggressively and become difficult to control. It’s important to choose clover varieties that are well-suited to your climate and that have a reputation for being non-invasive.
Attraction to Bees:
While the presence of pollinators can be seen as an advantage, it may not be desirable for everyone. If you or someone in your household has allergies to bee stings or if you have concerns about bee activity in your yard, a clover lawn may not be the best option.
While many people find the appearance of a clover lawn attractive, others may prefer the uniformity and aesthetic of traditional grass lawns. Clover lawns have a different texture and appearance, with leaves that are larger and more spread out than grass blades. Some individuals may not find this look appealing.
Although clover lawns generally require less maintenance than grass lawns, they still require some care. Clovers may need occasional mowing to keep it at an optimal height, and it can be challenging to remove individual clover plants if they appear in unwanted areas.
Foot Traffic Tolerance:
Clover lawns are generally more delicate than grass lawns and may not withstand heavy foot traffic as well. If you have children or pets who frequently play in the yard, or if you plan to use the lawn for activities that involve a lot of foot traffic, a clover lawn may not be the most durable option.
Depending on your location, it may be challenging to find clover seeds or starter plants. Not all nurseries or garden centers carry a wide selection of clover varieties, so it may require some effort to obtain the specific type of clover you desire.
It’s important to carefully consider these potential drawbacks and weigh them against the benefits to determine if a clover lawn is the right choice for your specific needs and preferences.
Planting Clover Instead Of Grass
Planting clover instead of grass can be a viable alternative for certain situations and preferences. Here are some steps to consider when planting clover:
Select The Right Clover Variety:
There are several clover species available for lawns, including white clover (Trifolium repens) and micro clover (Trifolium repens var. Pipolina). These varieties are typically used for lawn purposes due to their low-growing habit and ability to withstand mowing.
Prepare The Soil:
Clover generally prefers well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. Before planting, remove any existing grass or weeds from the area and loosen the soil. Incorporating organic matter like compost can help improve soil fertility and structure.
Clover can be established from seeds or by using seedlings or plugs. If using seeds, spread them evenly over the prepared soil and lightly rake to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. If using seedlings or plugs, space them according to the recommendations provided.
Watering And Initial Care:
After planting, water the area lightly to keep the soil moist until the clover germinates and establishes. It’s important to keep the soil consistently moist during this initial phase.
Once the clover is established, it generally requires less maintenance compared to grass lawns. Mow the clover to a height of around 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) as needed to maintain a neat appearance. Avoid mowing too short, as it can stress the clover plants.
One of the benefits of clover is its ability to fix nitrogen from the air. However, if the soil is deficient in other nutrients, you may consider providing a balanced fertilizer to ensure healthy growth. Conduct a soil test to determine if additional nutrients are needed.
Clover lawns typically have good weed suppression due to the dense growth habit. However, some weeds may still appear. Regular mowing and hand-pulling can help control weeds, reducing the need for herbicides.
Clover lawns attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. It’s important to be aware of potential allergies and take necessary precautions if someone in your household has severe bee allergies.
Remember that the process of establishing a clover lawn may vary depending on your specific location, climate, and the type of clover chosen. It’s recommended to consult local gardening resources or professionals for guidance tailored to your region.
FAQs on Planting Clover Lawn
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to plant a clover lawn below.
Why Should I Consider Planting A Clover Lawn Instead Of Traditional Grass?
Planting a clover lawn offers several advantages. Clover requires less maintenance, has excellent drought resistance, suppresses weeds, improves soil health, attracts pollinators, and has a smaller ecological footprint compared to grass lawns.
Can I Plant Clover In Any Type Of Soil?
Clover generally prefers well-drained soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. While it can adapt to various soil types, it’s important to ensure the soil is not excessively compacted or waterlogged.
How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Clover?
To prepare the soil, remove any existing grass or weeds from the area. Loosen the soil and consider incorporating organic matter like compost to improve fertility and structure.
What Is The Best Time To Plant Clover?
Spring and early fall are generally the best times to plant clover. The soil should be warm enough for germination, and there should be adequate moisture available for establishment.
Can I Walk On A Clover Lawn?
While clover lawns are generally more delicate than grass lawns, they can withstand moderate foot traffic. However, heavy foot traffic may cause damage, so it’s advisable to limit excessive walking or play activities on the clover lawn.
How Often Should I Mow My Clover Lawn?
Clover lawns typically require less frequent mowing compared to grass lawns. It’s recommended to mow the clover to a height of around 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) as needed to maintain a neat appearance.
Does Clover Require Fertilizers?
Clover has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air, which reduces the need for additional nitrogen fertilizers. However, if the soil is deficient in other nutrients, you may consider providing a balanced fertilizer to ensure healthy growth.
Will Clover Lawns Attract Bees?
Yes, clover lawns are known to attract bees due to their small, fragrant flowers. While this can be seen as a benefit for pollination, it’s important to be aware of potential allergies and take necessary precautions if someone in your household has severe bee allergies.
Can I Plant Clover In Shady Areas?
Clovers generally prefer full sun or partial shade. While it can tolerate some shade, it may not grow as vigorously or form a dense cover in heavily shaded areas.
How Do I Control Weeds In A Clover Lawn?
Clover lawns typically have good weed suppression due to their dense growth habit. Regular mowing and hand-pulling can help control weeds. In severe cases, you may consider spot-treating with herbicides labeled for use on clover, although minimizing chemical use is generally recommended.
It’s important to note that the specific requirements and recommendations for planting clover may vary based on your region and the clover variety chosen. Consulting local gardening resources or professionals can provide tailored advice for your specific circumstances.