As gardening enthusiasts, we all want our lawn to be an undisturbed stretch of green. But what happens when clover invades and creates patches, or worse, blooms with white flowers? That’s when you need to know how to get rid of clover from your garden.
Not only does clover interrupt your lawn with the unsightly patches and white flowers, but it also attracts bees and bugs. On the other hand, clover also has some uses. So if you’re thinking, “how do I get rid of clover?” then we’re going to give you a taste of both perspectives.
First, we’ll see what clover actually is. Chances are, you’ve seen them here and there, but you don’t know all that much about them. Then, we’ll talk about how some clover might be good for your lawn. And lastly, We will talk about the various methods of how to get rid of clover and what to do with your garden after it is done.
What Is Clover?
What we call clover is the commonly used name for around 250 plants of the genus Trifolium. These plants can be found almost worldwide, although you’ll most likely only find white clover on home lawns, so we’ll mostly talk about how to get rid of white clover.
The easy way to identify clover is by their three heart-shaped leaflets and dense rounded white flowers. White clover is a low-growing plant with a shallow root system but spreads swiftly to cover the ground and creates patches. Clover prefers low nitrogen soil because it’s capable of getting its nitrogen from the air.
Why Does Clover Grow in Your Lawn?
If clover is prevalent in your lawn, there might be some underlying issues that you must not ignore. It could be something wrong with the soil, your watering schedule, or your mowing practices. You need this knowledge to understand how to get rid of clover in garden.
What these problems do, is that they stress out the grass in your lawn. The grass being stressed and weak means that clover can have the upper hand over them and spread out. Let’s take a look.
Clover can grow in an extensive range of soil pH, but your grass cannot. As a result, acidic soil makes your grass stressed, and clover takes advantage of that situation. Naturally, you should check your soil pH. Once it’s tested, you can learn about which soil amendments will fix the pH, so it’s ideal for grass.
A little tip: whether your soil is acidic or basic, adding compost as soil amendment usually balances it.
Insufficient Nutrient Levels
If your soil lacks nutrients, especially nitrogen, your grass will suffer. However, clover will thrive because it’s capable of making its nitrogen. To give your grass the upper hand, you should add fertilizer or soil amendments that boost nitrogen content and fill up any other deficiencies.
Lack/Overabundance of Water in Soil
Lack of water will weaken your lawn tremendously, so much so that you’ll notice symptoms other than the clover crop up. It’s going to be just as bad if you overwater your lawn and it gets muddy. Carefully measure how much water your lawn needs and provide just that much. That will balance your grass’s competition with the clover.
This might sound unusual, but soil that’s too packed will be detrimental to your grass. Clover will have no problem thriving in compacted soil because it has deeper-reaching roots. But to give your grass the advantage, you should provide some relief with a lawn aerator.
Mowing Too Low
When you first notice clover peeking out in between your grasses, your first instinct might be to mow lower than usual to take off the clover flowers and leaflets. However, this will backfire, as the low mowing will stress your grass, and the clover will grow back anyway.
What’s the solution, then? As clover cannot withstand shade, mow high instead and let your grass grow taller. Eventually, the grass will create enough shade that the clover will weaken.
Is Microclover Actually Good for Your Lawn?
Despite all the drawbacks, some argue that clover should be left on the lawn to reap natural benefits. If you don’t want wild clover, get yourself some microclover mixed with the grass seeds. Let’s take a look at the claims about microclover’s usefulness:
Clover fertilizes your lawn: Clover can create its own nitrogen- we’ve talked about this. Beneficial symbiotic bacteria latch onto their roots and help them acquire nitrogen from the air. When clover decomposes, it brings that nitrogen to the soil and encourages grass growth.
Deters the growth of other weeds: As we’ve said already, increasing mowing height is helpful to keep your lawn weed-free because longer grasses create shade and kill the weeds in that shade. Clovers are even more efficient in this task because of their umbrella-like canopy.
Microclover flowers less than usual clover: Most people get irritated with clover because of the annoying white flowers that attract bees and bugs. But microclover flowers much less than regular clover, so the positive outweighs the negative.
Keeps your lawn healthy: In general, if there’s a microclover deliberately mixed in with other types of grass, your lawn is going to stay greener and healthier. The clover will especially maintain the lush look of your lawn in the summer months when regular grass tends to dry out.
How to Get Rid of Clover – Once and for All
Now we know that clover can be beneficial to your lawn to some extent. However, it will still give your lawn a patchy, uneven appearance, and I wouldn’t blame you if you want to avoid that. Here are some of my favorite methods for getting rid of clover in the grass from your garden.
Feed Your Lawn
Underfed lawns are perfect breeding grounds for clovers. Get your soil tested, and then fertilize the soil, so it’s in a perfect condition to nourish the sort of grass you want to plant. This way, the grass would be healthy enough to compete with clover and win.
Adjust Mowing Height
Instead of lowering mowing height and scalping your lawn, think differently. If you let the grass grow taller over the clover (which never grows taller than 3 inches) and shade it out, that will not only kill the clover but any other weed within that height range. This method will also be less stressful for your grass than mowing it so short.
Ever wonder why mowing over clover doesn’t work? That’s because clover grows back unless it’s removed along with the root. Once you notice patches of clover in your lawn, weeding it manually is the best thing you can do.
To successfully remove clover from your lawn, loosen the soil around its roots and pull up, don’t leave anything behind. In contrast, this might be a bit time-intensive. But this way, you can ensure that no chemical harms your grass and that the clover does not come back.
Using a Weed Killer
There are quite a few types of weed killers that you may pick from. You have the option to choose from organic, chemical, selective, or even DIY clover killers. You might have to be very careful while working with them, though. Some of them will also kill off your grass.
If you want to try something DIY, you could try mixing one part water with one part vinegar, add a drop of dish soap, and put the mixture in a spray bottle. Carefully spray this over the clover patches. Be extra careful so it doesn’t get on the grass because the grass will die too.
Smother Large Patches
If there are large, unbecoming patches of clover in your lawn, you can try depriving the clover of sunlight and oxygen. It’s relatively simple to do so. You take a large swath of cover, such as opaque plastic, and cover the clover patch.
To make sure the cover isn’t displaced, make sure to weigh it down on all sides. The clover will die from lack of sunlight soon. However, only use it on a patch that’s mostly clover because it will also kill off the grass growing alongside the clover..
Also Read: Edger vs Trimmer – Take Care of Your Lawn
What to Do After You Get Rid of Clover?
Now that you know how to get rid of clover from your garden, the task should be easy enough for you. You can give microclovers a shot as well if you don’t mind your lawn looking slightly less than pristine. It will also be beneficial to the lawn’s soil. Lay down grass seed in the bald patches left after the clover patches are eradicated.
Do not forget to follow the advice I’ve already given you about keeping clover at bay. Feed your lawn correctly, water adequately, don’t mow too low, and so on. While you’re laying down seed, you can try over seeding. This strategy gives your grasses the upper hand when it comes to fighting weeds. Also, if your budget allows, you should totally buy high-quality grass seeds that have little to no weed seed mixed in.