Taking care of your lawn is very rewarding. However, things may not always go as planned. Clover loves to infiltrate lawns, and there are many positives and negatives of having it grow in your lawn. But is clover a weed? Should you get rid of it?
Is clover a weed? Clover is generally considered to be a weed as it is a wild plant that grows in competition with cultivated plants, usually your lawn grass. However, it’s not harmful to your lawn.
However, clover has many advantages and it is important to know the pros and cons before your try to get rid of it. Keep on reading and you’ll know everything about clover, how it can benefit your lawn, and the best way to get rid of it, if you want to.
Is Clover A Weed?
According to modern identification, clover is considered to be a weed because it’s usually an unwanted plant. On some occasions, people choose to grow clover if the soil is too poor to grow grass. But generally speaking, people usually don’t feel happy about clover growing in their lawns and impacting the beauty of their lawn.
Homeowners who want nothing but turf grass usually use herbicides to fight off clover. But prior to World War II, clover was a typical staple in the American lawn. It managed to keep lawns and backyards looking green when homeowners didn’t have lots of time to spend on landscaping.
With the introduction of chemicals, gardening professionals began to sell their new formulas that would get rid of all broadleaved plants, including clover. Being a perennial that keeps on coming every year, homeowners needed to make sure that they used these chemicals all the time to keep their lawns clover-free.
What Does Clover Look Like?
There are several types of clover, but the most common one is white clover or Trifolium repens. It’s quite easy to identify.
Each stem has three petal-shaped leaves. The white flowers usually bloom between early spring and late fall, but they will grow back the following year. The root system is rather shallow, but the stems creep along the surface of the ground. The flowers are sometimes very pale pink and the stems will reach a maximum height of six inches.
Red clover is another common type of clover that doesn’t grow often in lawns. It has dark pink flowers and the stems usually grow until they’re 14 inches high.
Why Is Clover Growing In Your Lawn?
When the rest of your lawn turns yellow, clover will remain green even though the flowers don’t bloom. The growing conditions in your lawn might favor clover over grass and this is why it will grow successfully.
- If the soil pH level is messed up, clover will grow successfully. Clover can survive in conditions that aren’t suitable for grass.
- Clover can grow in soil that lacks necessary nutrients. While the rest of your lawn plants need essential nutrients like nitrogen, clover will grow perfectly in nitrogen-deficient soil. As a matter of fact, if you see clover excessively growing in your lawn, it’s an indication that your soil is low on nitrogen and this means that you need to add fertilizers to improve its condition.
- When you don’t take care of your grass, it becomes more stressed and less healthy. This will make your grass grow lower and less dense, leaving room for clover to grow. Maintaining your lawn regularly guarantees that the roots of your plants will grow deeper.
- If your soil is compacted, the roots of grass won’t be able to reach down to water and nutrients. Clover can do that, so it will perfectly grow in these conditions.
What Are The Drawbacks Of Having Clover In Your Lawn?
In addition to being unwanted, having clover in your lawn has several disadvantages.
- The first and most important reason why most homeowners hate having clover in their lawns is that it messes up their landscaping design. Designing and maintaining a landscape is hard work and takes lots of time and money. Clover that grows where it’s not supposed to will ruin the design you’ve always wanted.
- If it comes in contact with clothing, clover can cause more staining than regular lawn grass.
- Clover survives in bad conditions, but it’s not that durable, so it will die when grown in high-traffic areas, leaving your lawn or backyard looking patchy.
What Are The Benefits Of Clover?
Clover can actually help your lawn a lot. Here are some of the benefits of having it.
- It’s affordable and very easy to grow. Once it starts to grow, it doesn’t require regular watering.
- Clover can grow in strong sunlight or shade. New micro-clover is actually more resistant to shade than traditional white clover.
- There are nitrogen fixing bacteria in the roots of clover. These bacteria absorb nitrogen from the air, enriching the soil and act like a natural fertilizer.
- Busy homeowners might love the green look of clover. When it’s too hot for grass to grow, clover will keep your lawn looking fresh with virtually no work or maintenance. It’s also one of the first plants to go green as soon as the temperatures start to rise.
- Clover attracts bees and wasps that feast on harmful bugs. The pollen grains of fruits, flowers, and vegetables are carried by these insects that feed on the nectar of clover.
- If you decide to use clover as a natural fertilizer, it will definitely smell better than chemicals that you use to fight off bugs and other harmful weeds.
- Clover isn’t that harmful, but other weeds are. If you’re tired of picking those hard-to-kill weeds, then you might try clover. It’s an inexpensive and organic way to keep your lawn under control.
Choosing to let clover grow is a personal choice. Some homeowners grow it in order to improve the condition of the lawn and make it more pest-resistant.
It can add to the aesthetic value of your backyard or lawn, especially when mixed with grass as it helps your lawn look greener, and some people like the look of clover flowers dotted throughout their lawn.
How To Reduce Or Eliminate Clover?
There are several ways to reduce or eliminate clover if you would like to keep your lawn clover-free.
If you feel the white flowers are taking over, then you might want to try a few organic solutions to get rid of clover.
- Fertilize your lawn. This will provide the soil with the necessary nutrients that help grass grows. This means that clover won’t have an advantage over grass because it grows in unhealthy soil. Feeding the grass four times a year is enough to keep your soil healthy.
- Mow high to keep your grass strong. Mowing too low will make your grass stressed which gives the clover a chance to grow. Tall grass will block the sunlight, depriving clover of the chance to grow successfully.
- Natural remedies can work to kill clover. You can mix vinegar with dish soap and spray it over clover. You should make sure that the mixture doesn’t get in contact with other plants in your backyard or lawn.
- If you notice clover early, you can pull it by hand. Loosen the soil to make sure that you’ve removed all the roots.
All broadleaf herbicides can kill clover as well as other harmful weeds in your lawn. These herbicides contain chemicals like Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, Dicamba, and Mecoprop. Herbicides are either pre-emergent or post-emergent.
Pre-emergent herbicides are applied to the soil in areas where clover is likely to grow. They last for about three to four months and will prevent clover from growing. Post-emergent herbicides work better with young weeds. They will destroy the root system of clover but won’t affect the surrounding grass.
Some of these herbicides are non-selective and will kill all the plants that they get in contact with. This is why you should be careful when applying them to your lawn. They might also be poisonous to pets, animals, birds, bugs. It’s recommended that you read the application instructions carefully before applying any chemical to your backyard or lawn.
FAQs About Clover
What Is Clover Used For?
White and red clover have medicinal uses. White clover flowers can be eaten raw or baked. A tea infusion is used to fight off fever. Red clover can be used for cancer prevention and treating high cholesterol levels.
Can Liming Be Used To Get Rid Of Clover?
Lime can make your soil less acidic, which may make it less favorable for clover to grow.
Is Clover Toxic To Dogs?
White clover is edible, and actually contains some nutrients that will benefit your dog or cat. However, it doesn’t always taste nice. Large amounts of clover can cause bloating in dogs, as well as cattle and horses.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article about whether clover is a weed or not. The answer depends on your personal opinion after going through the pros and cons of having this plant in your lawn.