Clover Comeback

How to Grow a Clover Lawn

By George and Becky Lohmiller
February 25, 2021
Clover Plant

At one time, most yards had at least some white clover growing in them. It was a world before chemicals, and clover was part of seed blends because it improved the soil—and the condition of the lawn. Gardeners are returning to recognizing the benefits of clover in lawn grass mixtures—or even as a replacement for grass. Learn more.

Move on from the quest for a perfect lawn of just turf grass. It’s not natural and ends up requiring chemicals. Before World War II and the advent of chemicals, clover was used as a great companion with turf grass. It was added to seed blends, along with fescues, ryegrasses and Kentucky bluegrass, because it helped grass thrive.

See the incredible benefits of clover below and you’ll wonder why you don’t grow clover!

Benefits of Clover

  1. Being a legume, the clover plant fixes poor soil! Clover has the ability to convert nitrogen into fertilizer using bacteria in it’s root system, practically eliminating the need for additional fertilization. 
  2. White clover (Trifolium repens) is the most common clover for lawns. Left uncut, white clover grows 4 to 8 inches tall and produces small white flowers that are often tinged with pink. It’s a rapid spreader that crowds out broadleaf weeds while growing harmoniously with grass.
  3. Like white clover, red clover (Trifolium pratense) is native to Europe, but has been naturalized in North America. It produces attractive purple flowers and typically grows taller than white clover (a little too tall compared to lawn grass).
  4. Clover is among the first plants to green up and thrive in the spring.
  5. It’s extremely drought-resistant plant and will keep its cool-green color even during the hottest and driest parts of summer. 
  6. Clover will also thrive in areas that are poorly drained or too shady for a conventional lawn.
  7. The flowers not only create a beautiful visual effect, but also bring in bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects that prey on garden pests
  8. Honeybees rarely sting when they are away from their hive, but if they make you uncomfortable or you are allergic to bee stings, simply have the lawn mowed more often when clover is in bloom. Or, grow clover on surfaces where there is little activity on the lawn and the desired result is more aesthetic than functional.

Red clover blossom.

Planting Clover

You can plant clover by itself for ground cover, but it stands up better to foot traffic when combined with lawn grass.

  • Only 5 to 10% by weight of tiny clover seed needs to be mixed with the recommended amount of grass seed to create a thick stand.
  • When adding clover to an existing lawn, first mow it close and remove any thatch to allow the seed to fall to the soil surface.
  • To sow clover alone, mix it with enough sand to facilitate spreading. About 2 ounces of clover is needed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.
  • Since clover has a low growth habit, it can go without mowing all season long if desired. Or, just mow a couple of times a year to maintain its appearance.

Luck of the Clover

Finding a four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Surely it must be, because on average there is only one of them for every 10,000 clovers with three leaves. But even if you never find a four-leaf specimen, just having clover growing in your lawn will keep it greener longer with minimum care, which we consider to be extremely good luck.

Looking for more ground cover options? See a few more hardy ground cover plants.


Reader Comments

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Clover additions

I tossed clover seeds into the lawns, front and back - I have typical, smallish size suburban lawns, sun in front, shade in back. The clover took off just fine. Some I mixed with grass seed in bare spots, some I just sprinkled in to blend with the spot repair. One year I used white clover, one year red. As noted in the article, red clover is too tall for lawns, but it really only stands out in spring when the new growth is faster than the grass grows. Lawn care isn't important to me, I just mow it and leave it, won't spend money on it. But the $4 bag of clover wasn't an issue! It fills in nicely, grows fast, returns every year, does its part to tame weeds but don't expect miracles. Now, I also planted red clover as a flower, around the base of a cherry tree in full sun at the curb. It looks fantastic! Over a foot tall, waves in the breeze, the blossom you see pictured in the article, three years going strong there. Chop off the dead flowers five or six times in the summer as they brown up - you can remove them or just quickly whack down the clover by half its height - fast and easy. Within a week, you'll have new buds forming and flowers in 10 days or so. It will just keep going until frost. Highly recommend it!

Can clover choke out catsear?

I've got this weed that I really want to eradicate and replace most of the lawn with clover. It's Hypochaeris radicata (catsear). Similar flower to a dandelion, but much tougher. What I don't know if should I try to kill the catsear first (once the bees stop harvesting) with some sort of weed killer or will the clover have any chance to choke it out?

cats ear weed

The Editors's picture

Common cats-ear grows in thin, open areas. If you have a thick, healthy lawn, you are less likely to see this weed. A few tips:

Don’t mow too often or too short; this encourages cats-ear. 

Cats-ear can’t resprout from root fragments so pull it or use organic postemergent herbicides in the fall; control this week when young!

Clover gives nitrogen back to the soil and encourages a healthy lawn so you can’t go wrong with a clover/turf blend either.

Too much clover!

The clover does everything the article says! However, it makes our yard look polka dotted, not very attractive. Is there anything I can do about this, or get rid of it?

get rid of clover

The Editors's picture

We’re big fans of clover grass blends as clover is beneficial, adding nitrogen and encouraging grass growth when it decomposes. plus clover’s flowers are pretty and bee-friendly. But we understand that some folks aren’t fans. Here are remedies to get rid of clover:

Addition to my previous comment.

Last year when I planted this, I didn't do anything special except toss some down in the middle of June. Maybe I might have sprinkled some water on it, but that is it. Nature has done the rest.


I have a yard that will never be "perfect" due to the neighborhood having many groundhogs and moles. Not only that, but I have a dog that thinks it is her task to try to unearth the creatures. And of course I have a highly clay soil and lots of shade. I just can't spend money on a futile cause. I do my best to keep a neat yard by keeping it trimmed evenly.

Last year, I decided to plant clover seed in my yard for the many reasons listed in this article. This year, it is really taking hold and I see less of the more undesirable weeds and more "real" grass and clover. My neighbors comment how much improved my yard is, mainly greener and more filled in.

The seed I bought last year, (just cheapest white clover at the local mom and pop feed and seed) had an added surprise. My yard has a HIGH ratio of 4 leaf clovers. I mean enough that I should go into the "4 leaf clover paper weight" business!

Clover and Sorrel

We have decided to go with a more natural lawn, less cultivated because we live in the high desert and it is water wasting. Our current lawn in Bermuda but it is being choked out by yellow sorrel (oxalis). Can we just add in white clover or will the yellow sorrel prevent it from growing?

Can clover compete with oxalis??

Oxalis has taken over our lawn. We’d like to switch our grass to clover and have the clover out run the oxalis. How likely is that? Or should we work to get rid of the oxalis first?

Nice article!

Nice article!
Clover does have many benefits both for humans and for the environment.
Did you know that clover can increase catfish production in aquaponic cultivation?
thank you for sharing!

Dwarf clover

We are looking into thatching and seeding into our one acre of ugly field grass and weeds. To oversees an existing area what is the ratio of seed needed per acre of a field of grass and weeds enough to crowd them out eventually?

Clover in winter

What will white clover look like in winter in zone five? Does it leave a bare spot where they were growing? Does it turn brown? Enjoy white clover during the spring, summer and fall. However, I live on a slope and cannot have barren spots which would increase water run off.

How much topsoil is needed?

I have had mixed results with my micro clover/grass mixture in our hot, dry summer this year -- in some places it has stayed quite lush, in other places totally dried up and brown. It seems to have had the worst time in areas surrounding a shallow rock outcropping where I think the soil is not very deep -- only a couple of inches -- over top of a solid rock substrate . I would like to replant these areas next spring and am wondering how deep the soil needs to be for the clover to thrive, given this rock base?

Micro-clover Scam?

Thanks for the article! Quick question though-- we bought micro-clover seed and it took to the lawn quite well. We were told it is half the size of Dutch clover and doesn't flower as much. Well, our lawn has tons of flowers and clover is big. We contacted the company and they said it has to be mowed short and a lot. We thought it was low maintenance. And we suspect we were lied to and were sold Dutch clover than micro-clover. We researched and then read that micro-clover is a modified version of the Dutch and if you do not do keep mowing it, it could actually revert back to Dutch clover. Cannot find the source to this reading. So was curious if you guys have heard of this. Thanks

Micro-clover big here too

I over seeded some tough areas where grass never lasts and included a good dose of micro clover in October of 2017. I'm also noticing it's not very small. However the leaves look different here, sort of larger than white clover with a white streak to them. I cut at 3" until July when I bump it up to 3.5" and leave it there until September.


I have clover with the little pink flowers growing in my front flowerbed. One side of me says pull it out and the other says leave it!! What are the pros and cons of growing clover along with other flowers?

clover in the garden

The Editors's picture

Some clover species, such as white clover, can be used as ground covers. The white flower has a tinge of pink to it. Red clover, with a medium pink flower, is a taller species, and can be used as an accent in the flower bed. Clover (Trifolium) fixes nitrogen in the soil, which can be beneficial to other plants when the clover dies. Some clovers are annuals, others are perennials. White clover is a perennial, although it has a shorter life in the south. Red clover is a short-lived perennial. Clovers attract pollinators, such as bees. One down-side is that clover can be invasive, and the roots can compete with other plants (but also compete with weeds). You’d need to keep it in check, but it is fairly easy to pull up. Ornamental clovers are available for the garden, too.

Expanding Clover Growth

I have large areas of clover in old pastures where we now live. I would like the clover areas to expand and get larger and larger. Should I continue to not mow the clover areas to have the areas of clover expand? Any other insights to have the white clover areas expand (transplant some - it seems difficult?). Thank you in advance.

Mow normally, it will expand

At least mine did. I stopped using weed and feed fertilizer three years ago and my lawn has gone from some spots of clover to about 25% at this point, not counting the areas near walkways that I purposely over-seeded with micro clover. The flower heads contain and spread the seeds, the plants also multiply through shoots I believe.


This article is somewhat misleading using the term "Low Maintenance Lawn", because I have about an acre which I try to keep maintained as well as possible. I have several patches or areas of clover in my yard, and those patches grow MUCH FASTER than my centipede grass that is the main grass in my yard. Not only do I have to cut the clover patches probably twice as often as the other, it also grows in much thicker, therefore "clumping" coming out of my mowers discharge chute (especially if it's moist, due to the morning dew). I do like the clover for one reason...I enjoy watching the deer feed on it! One last thing, I live in the deep south with plenty of rain & high humidity.

Low Maintenance

The Editors's picture

You’re right, clover does grow quickly in ideal conditions! If you’re looking for a short lawn that you never need to mow, clover might not be the best choice, but in terms of fertilizing and watering, clover is considered fairly low maintenance. 

Planting Clover

I was going to buy some clover seeds this spring. They didn't have any. Said that you have to plant clover in the fall. Just to let ya'll know when to plant.


Just wondering if it is too late to sew....5/14/18...eastern NC (close to New Bern).

Red clover

When to plant red clover in Reserve NM 87830

A long time ago growing up my

A long time ago growing up my friend's Mom and us picked a bunch of white clover flowers and she coated them in bisquick and cooked them up in a skillet, so good!

Clover comeback

Planning to make clover planters around grounds and deck.

Alfalfa seed from Picks eds didn't grow

About 20 years ago I seeded about 5 acres of pickseed alfalfa on brown red clay.I was told you won't see much growth in the first 3 years as it spends that time growing it's root system deep. Today I only find the odd alfalfa seem growing in grass an lots of weed. that has taken root on its own. No grass seed was seeded. The ground was well scraped seeded an rolled after seeding. I cost a lot for the darn seed. I over seeded every 4 years but nothing.. grass an weed grow like crazy. I also put 18-18-18 fertilizer on as told by my feed store

El Paso, TX

Would white clover and fescue be a good mix for a small-medium lawn in El Paso, and would it help choke out goathead burrs? Also, any negative impact to dogs/cats?

Goatheads! (uh, Burrs, that is)

The Editors's picture

Hi, Rhett: White clover and fescue would be a good mix, but chances are that they are not going to do anything to goathead burrs, whose roots run very deep. Easy for us to say, but we would take the time and trouble to try to get rid of the burrs first (do an online search for how). Then we would put in our nice new lawn, which would have no negative impact on cats or dogs unless they ate a huge amount of it–which is true for just about anything. Thanks for asking and good luck!

Clover in Clay

Hi, I need some help. I have a small lawn around 25 to 30 sq metres most of which is on a bit of an incline, very shaded, very much clay and currently hardly and grass at all, mainly muddy clay and a few weeds. I'd like to try the clover lawn but have a few questions. Which type of grass seed would I be best mixing it with and would I need top soil or sand to cover the seeds or just rake it into to the clay?