Clover Comeback

How to Grow a Clover Lawn

George and Becky Lohmiller
Clover Plant

At one time, most lawns had at least some clover growing in them, with many consisting almost entirely of clover plants. Today, many lawn enthusiasts are trying to limit the use of pesticides and are again turning to clover.

Benefits of Clover

  • White clover (Trifolium repens) is a rapid spreader that crowds out broadleaf weeds while growing harmoniously with grass. It will thrive in areas that are poorly drained or too shady for a conventional lawn.
  • Like white clover, red clover (Trifolium pratense) is native to Europe, but has been naturalized in North America. It typically grows taller than white clover and produces attractive purple flowers.
  • Being a legume, the clover plant has the ability to convert nitrogen into fertilizer using bacteria in it’s root system, practically eliminating the need for additional fertilization.
  • Clover is an extremely drought-resistant plant and will keep its cool-green color even during the hottest and driest parts of summer.
  • Left uncut, white clover grows 4-8 inches tall and produces small white flowers that are often tinged with pink. The flowers not only create a beautiful visual effect, but also bring in bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects that prey on garden pests.
  • 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.

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 5-10% 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.

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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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)

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?

In the Clover

Hi, Nick: First of all, prepare your site by removing the weeds (and as many roots as possible). Lightly scratch it with a rake to a depth of about ¼ inch, just to give the seeds a little head start. Then broadcast a seed mix of clover and fescue (suitable for your climate) onto the area. Finally, cover with a very light (¼- to ½-inch) layer of topsoil, then a very light layer of straw. Keep well watered. Good luck!

Clover in clay

When we built our house we had a lot of heavy clay and poor soil to dump, the quickest cheepest solution was to dump it on some ground we had, not thinking that it would be almost impossible to reseed afterwards as we could not afford to cover the whole area with topsoil (60m x 15m strip of ground) We decided to take a chance and collected grass clippings from all our neighbours to cover the area. Everyone thought we were mad, we created a thin mat of grass clippings and a couple of weeks later reseaded it with a mixture of wild grass which I guess had clover seeds in it.The first year was a bit patchy, the second better, by the third year we now have a field of thick wild green grass and clover. Hope this helps anyone who finds themselves in our situation.

Replace grass with clover to create a low maintenance lawn

We live in the north west of England. We have just retired and anticipate going on holidays that would last about a month.
We have a lawn at the front of the house that is in good condition but needs mowing every week or at least every 2 weeks and are concious that a month without mowing would show thieves we are away and also be unsightly for the neighbours.
We have been reading about clover lawns and have decided to take the plunge and replace the grass with Clover or a Clover / Fescue mix and have covered the grass with an aim to kill it over the autumn and reseed in the spring.
Just a couple of questions.
Is Microclover used by itself for a lawn normally successful or is a microclover/fescue mix better?
If you recommend the microclover/fescue option have you any advice for what fescue to use the minimise the amount of mowing.
Paul & Elaine Brown

Seed Mix

We recommend going with a mix–it will result in fewer weeds and insect problems, better drought tolerance, and a reduced need to fertilize. A microclover/tall fescue mix is suitable, though you might want to consider using “No Mow” seed–a mix of bunch- and creeping-variety fescues that require very little mowing.


dry patches in clover lawn

I have large dried out patches in my clover lawn. They seem to appear around the root system of a maple tree. (I have been told that maples are thirsty and greedy !!! especially in hot dry weather!!) What can I do this fall to help enrich, revive this 3 year old clover lawn...

Clover Lawn

Water, water, water! And add fertilizer high in nitrogen.

I need to put a pre-emergent

I need to put a pre-emergent down next Spring for crabgrass, how will this effect the timing of overseeding with clover and grass seed?

Pre-emergents' properties

Well, we learned a few things, Anne. There are numerous pre-emergents on the market and you need to determine which best serves your purpose. We can not directly answer that; have a conversation with the expert at your local nursery. Here’s why: pre-emergents can last in the soil for weeks to months. Some eliminate specific weeds; some eliminate just about any new seeds. The soil on which you put the pre-emergent can not be disturbed (even by birds or critters) during the treatment period (see weeks, months above). Application season varies, too.

So this is really a conversation you need to have with a vendor who knows the various products and what will best suit your needs on so many levels.

We hope this helps.

clover as a lawn

We hope to cut back on mowing at our new house by planting clover only. Will our plan work with top soil-how much? on a sandy gravelled construction site? Also have some straw and wood chips. How do we layer these materials to work best for a New England late-spring planting?

How to plant clover

Good idea. You probably need a few inches of topsoil. Clover has deep roots but it does not do well in deep sand and/or gravel.
Check the pH of your soil; it should be around 6.5. Adjust, if necessary (see here for guidance, if nec: Rake the soil smooth. Spread the seed. Cover it with about one-quarter inch of soil. (You can spread straw if you have it but not wood chips; they would be too heavy.) Do not pack it down. Water daily to keep the soil/seed moist, until you see it growing.

Growing Dutch Clover

I live in Amarillo, Texas and it's pretty dry around here, my back yard has a lot of trees and get some sun. I broke up ground with a metal rake and tossed some Clive seed on top, and didn't cover. I've been watering for 4 days now and I can still see the seed on top the soil. Scared it didn't take and wondering if i did something wrong. How can I tell if it took?

In the clover?

Hi, Cynthia: Provided that your soil is the proper 6.4 pH (for most clovers), is rich enough, and you scraped enough to give the seeds some purchase, they can take at least a week to 10 days to get going. They do need to be kept moist – but not flooded, of course. And watch out for the birds! Thanks for asking and good luck!


I live in SW Fla...have 5 large dogs. My back yard is a mess! I also have 2 large oak trees. There is hardly any grass and was wondering if clover is the answer? The soil is sandy,minimal dirt.Help!!!

A low-maintenance grass that

A low-maintenance grass that tolerates sandy soil and partial shade is blue fescue. Zoysiagrass, seashore paspalum, and bermudagrass have the highest wear tolerance. You can mix clover seed with the grass seed as clover is drought tolerant and also resists pet urine.

Dogs and clover

Is it ok for dogs to eat large 3leaf clover

In the clover

Hi, Sharon: Clover is not poisonous to dogs, but shamrocks are. If your dog is constantly eating clover and grass, make sure that this is not because it just needs something to chew on: Provide a good chew toy. Thanks for asking!

Clover for Municipal Green Space

Do you have any information about Municipalitiy green space using clover to save maintenance cost ?

In the clover

Not offhand, but no doubt this is done. If you have already tried Googling, then your next step should be to check with municipal government publications, websites, chats, and forums, and ask around there. Even if you are from a small town, your local, county, or state government should know where to get you started. Another option is to research clover seed companies and ask them if they have any such clients with whom they’ve worked. They’d love to get the PR. Good luck!

When to plant

Can u scatter clover seeds over my existing lawn in January? (Now) or should I wait for spring?

Hi Dana,

Hi Dana,

It all depends on where you live and the weather. Plant when there is no more frost and night time temps. are staying in the 40’s or warmer. Rake the soil lightly and then spread the seed.

Is it possible to buy clover

Is it possible to buy clover sod....where the clover is already germinated and growing?

Hello; Just wondering if my

Hello; Just wondering if my front lawn area would be suitable for clover/grass. Currently my lawn is, mostly parched and may be dead. It is south facing, slightly sloping, base soil is very sandy ( I think the builder put sod right on the sand, and I'm in a 3b zone.

Also, if suitable, could I plant the clover/grass by overseeding over the current dead grass/lawn?
Any comments appreciated.


Hi, Terry: Please see the

Hi, Terry: Please see the answers to Lucy and Bethany below. If you feel that you have enough water available in one way or another to support a green yard, then, yes, you could give clover a try. Clover is very versatile and hardy, yet you should consult with a local nursery or seed store about what type might work best for you. Be sure to mix with grass seed to help with broadcasting. And we would definitely take a leaf rake to what remains and really try to vigorously scratch up and get rid of as much of the present dead material as possible. Sure, you could overseed, but the results might not be as good. Show a little love to your new clover. And thanks for asking!

I planted the micro clover ,

I planted the micro clover , it has small buds unevenly spread, we layed it down with top soil, we are going to plant more around the yard to even it out . we were wondering, when can we mow our lawn with out damaging the new clover?,also we ordered crimson clover for around our flower beds, I hope it is not poisonous to our cats ?

Good afternoon! I live in

Good afternoon!
I live in Alberta and my husband and I just moved into our first home. The lawn was in rough shape and I am a naturalist so we decided that clover would be a good choice for our bumpy, patchy, weed filled lawn. I bought 2,000 sq feet worth of dutch white clover seed, mowed the lawn, and racked to get dead grass out and move the soil a little. I scattered the seed all over the lawn (and used the whole bag before I got the whole lawn as I wouldn't mind the wait for it to spread). It looks like in one shady area the clover is in full effect with beautiful tiny white blossoms. Everywhere else is still just grass and weeds. I planted one week ago and it has been a rainy week and I have also been watering lightly in the morning and evening when needed to keep it from drying out.
What appears to be wild grass has sprung up absolutely everywhere...
Do you have any thoughts as to what might have happened? Does clover look like wild grass while it is in the process of establishing itself?

Let me correct myself...

Let me correct myself... after a little investigation it seems the plant with white flowers is chickweed and some clover is growing well around it.

Clover usually takes about a

Clover usually takes about a week to germinate. It's best to sow the seeds in early spring before grasses and weeds start growing and competing for water. To see a clover seedling go to

Does clover spread faster if

Does clover spread faster if the flowers are cut?

What happens to a clover lawn if all of the flowers are cut? Will it continue to spread through its roots, or begin to die off?

I have a nice patch of white clover that has taken over about one third of what was a very weed infested and extremely neglected lawn. Vetch was, and still is, a problem. Cutiing vetch at the ground level doesn't stop it from coming back, but it does slow it down. I am encouraging the clover to grow over areas that were formerly infested with vetch. I still need to pick the vetch, but not nearly as much as the clover seems to keep it in check. Will clover eventually crowd out most, if not all, to the vetch?

I filled in a low area with

I filled in a low area with some loam from the neighbors field. I never put seed or hay down and the following year the entire area filled with clover. that was 3 years ago and now the grass is 3 feet tall and clover is getting more sparse, like less than 50 percent. I don't know how to keep my clover from being drowned out. I don't know if I should mow it at like 6 inches or weed wack the grass or put alot of ash from the wood stove over it?

If you mow, the clover won't

If you mow, the clover won't flower as much. You can try adding in more clover.

Does clover stay green all

Does clover stay green all year? I live in NC and have zero topsoil - need something that will grow quickly on clay (after I plant the annual rye). I like the low maintenance of clover but want something that will stay green.

We planted clover with our

We planted clover with our fescue this year and it has come up beautifully and we have a lush green lawn. However, the closer has not flowers. does it take a year before they bloom or is this a variety that may not bloom?

If you mow, the clover won't

If you mow, the clover won't flower as much. Also, if you were using microclover (small white clover), it produces fewer flower heads compared to normal clover types. It all depends what you want. Clover flowers mean bees in the grass. If you seek pollinators, this is a good thing. If it's a lawn for playtime and you don't want to be stung, that might be a different story.

I'm wanting to replace my

I'm wanting to replace my lawn with clover for various reasons like low water and low maintenance. Do I need to plant some grass with it or is it ok to plant on it's own? Also if I seed it over the current law which is full of crab grass and weeds, will it eventually crowd out the unwanted weeds and crab grass or is it better to just rip tout the existing "lawn" and start over?

Yes, clover chokes out weeds

Yes, clover chokes out weeds fairly quickly. Clover is usually blended with lawn seed and will help the lawn, too: its deep root system reduces soil compaction and it naturally fertilizes the soil with nitrogen. 

I am anti herbicide,

I am anti herbicide, pesticide and synthetic fertilizer so my at Augustine grass in south Florida was way too much work. Took the grass out n seeded one section last week with white Dutch clover. I am watering daily and I see some teeny tiny clover but not everywhere. I def over seeded n I'm concerned south Florida isn't the place for it. I was aware it would prob need irrigation here. How long before I'll know if it is a viable option here. I did not mix with sand. That was not mentioned by the seed co I purchased from. Help! I don't want to put in st August sod!

Hi Sue, Dutch clover

Hi Sue,

Dutch clover germinates in 7 to 10 days. If you have bare spots after 10 days sprinkle some more seeds on those spots. The clover grows best with temps. between 50 and 85 degrees F but will tolerate hot and dry conditions after it is established.

I planted an all Dutch white

I planted an all Dutch white clover lawn and mowed it for the first time today!!! While it is beautiful and green, I worry about its durability. I have a 70lbs dog who has not been allowed on the clover lawn yet. Do you think it will be durable enough for her to play on? Or should I over seed with grass seed? If so is there a wild grass seed that would work well in Northern California? Thank You for your time!!

Hi Jennifer, The clover lawn

Hi Jennifer,
The clover lawn is not going to be durable enough for a 70 lb dog. Adding some grass seed would help. Centipede grass is slow growing and low maintanance. It will grow well in Northern California. Perennial rye grass is another option.

we have a very shaded

we have a very shaded around-a-bout in the consists of dirt and moss..mostly dirt..mowing is a dust mess..also in the very front..which gets quite a bit of sun..that won't grow grass..I've been researching what would work in this area..Moss has been one that is recommended For the shaded area ..but can only handle so much travel on it. My question is what type of clover would you recommend. Appreciate any input..Ty so much.

Ok - I realize you may not be

Ok - I realize you may not be able to answer me - I'm 68 - work full time - live in a trailer park - have a very small yard and have an Irish Wolfhound! When I bought this place the yard was a patchy mess. Have a huge maple tree in the small back yard. Planted sun/shade lawn seed early last Fall. Came up wonderful - had a very cold winter with not much snow cover and most of it died!!! I can get evicted if I don't have a nice looking yard. Researched clover & should have mixed it with my grass seed!!!! Question is can I just spread it in the patches and in area all new grass died?

Hi, Lucy: You can indeed

Hi, Lucy: You can indeed spread it by itself in the bare spots, but it's really advisable to start from scratch -- literally. Scratch up and rake your whole yard to get it as clean and ready as possible. Then either mix with grass seed (ask your garden center for a different type, we would suggest) or mix with a little sand to facilitate spreading. Clover is a good choice -- you'll be fine!

I overseeded my lawn last

I overseeded my lawn last year with micro clover but I am not sure what to do for spring and fall maintenance. Should you rake it? I am afraid raking will just pull up the clover. Advice please.

Hi, I really want to plant

I really want to plant clover/grass mix in my back yard (I live in NC). My concern is that the back yard seems to have some drainage issues, although I think a big part of why grass has never done well is because of all the large trees we have and that our soil is very sandy. From what I've read, clover will still grow well with a lot of trees and in sandy soil, but would the poor drainage potentially keep it from growing well? Also, I have three dogs and a 6 year old who are in and out of the back yard a lot; would I have to keep them off the lawn for a couple of weeks while the seeds are germinating?

Hi, Bethany: One of the great

Hi, Bethany: One of the great things about clover is that there is always a type that will grow under just about any condition(s), including shade and sand. You should experiment. Get some white clover seed, plus seed from two other types recommended to you by your local nursery or the NC extension service. Then set up a couple of 3x9 test plots (three 3x3 test areas for the 3 types) in different spots in your yard. Keep the tramplers off them and see what comes in best. Then plant according to directions, and you'll have clover all over!

I am strongly considering

I am strongly considering seeding a Micro-clover/grass mix. I've been trying to find out about how durable it is however. We play fetch with our dog everyday and I was wondering how well it will stand up to her running. I'm sure no lawn will be perfectly durable but is a micro clover mix a good option for us? Or something different? Also I heard that clover is invasive. Will it take over garden beds that are not guarded by a mow strip?

I have several questions. I

I have several questions. I live in Las Vegas and I went to a dog park that had a lush green lawn but it wasn't grass. I did my research and a clover lawn is what I found. So I know it can grow and thrive in this desert weather. I want to plant this in my backyard which I have an area that is just dirt, almost clay like. My first question is how would I plant this type of lawn with this hard dirt? The dog park lawn didn't look like it had any grass with it and looks as if it has never been mowed and it was real compact and low. Which clover is this? Thanks!

Hi, Raquel: Well, the odds

Hi, Raquel: Well, the odds are that you may have a challenge on your hands, but you can still come out a winner. If you have really hard-packed dirt, you are going to have to scratch it up really well with a gravel (not leaf) rake to give your seeds some "purchase." Use a broadcast seed spreader and then be prepared to protect your seeds (from birds, mainly) with a light cover of straw until they sprout. The lowest-growing, most compact clover is wild white, but others might do the trick, too. The thing to do is ask your local garden center for more specific advice.

I used dutch white clover

I used dutch white clover seed mixed in with my existing (I use the term loosely) lawn and just thought I'd mention that it isn't completely resistant to dog urine burn, the main reason I planted it. My question is, does clover need to go to seed to come back in the spring? While mine is growing well, I worry that its not growing fast enough for flowers to develop.

Hi, Jennifer: Dutch clover is

Hi, Jennifer: Dutch clover is a perennial, so it should come back at least somewhat, even without self-seeding for new growth. Thanks for asking!

I recently found out from a

I recently found out from a friend who deals in herbal/ayurvedic medicine that clover grass has beneficial medicinal properties such as purifying blood. Leaf has a likeable light sour taste.

I'm so glad you are talking

I'm so glad you are talking about clover lawns. This is something that I am doing at Urban Seedling in Montreal, my vegetable gardening and edible landscaping company.

We have white clover in our own backyard and I love seeing the insects coming around to pollinate my vegetable gardens!

Could I sow clover seed in

Could I sow clover seed in the fall and expect it to come up in the spring? Can I sow it anytime during spring, summer, and fall as long as the seed is in soil and receiving regular watering?

I planted red clover last

I planted red clover last fall (October)and it came up in the following spring. I live in Southeast Tn. We even had had a very cold, snowy winter.

Is there a non flowering

Is there a non flowering clover? as we want the benefits of the ground cover, but not the bees that are attracted to the flowering clover.

Our search has not turned up

Our search has not turned up a non flowering clover; the plant in its various forms/varieties reproduces with seeds from the flower, so the flowers are key to its survival.
We have a few other options at
Hope this helps!

Honey bees will bother you. I

Honey bees will bother you. I used to extremely afraid of bees on general, but after talking to a beekeeper and botanist and they explained that bees really only attack if absolutely necessary. They will usually just *head bump* you if you get annoying. ONce I learned that little fact, I am all good around their kind.

Also, the heck with yellow jackets, they are not bees and need to die a fiery horrible death. They are jerks in the insect world

we want to grow clover that

we want to grow clover that will be used by our local wildlife rehab center. We'll need bags of it on a regular basis. Any suggestions as to harvesting it without ruining the plot or making the harvest unusable?

hi, Would white clover do

Would white clover do well for over-seeding a Phoenix summer lawn combined with Bermuda do you think? We have full sun and shade areas and the Bermuda does really poorly in the shade, the fescue we tried didn't do well in shade either-maybe it was the heat. I was hoping to fill the bald spots in full sun and the shade spots with clover...thanks!
Lisa in Phoenix, AZ

White clover can do well in

White clover can do well in Phoenix lawns with the proper care. White clover has shallow roots, but does better in lawns than other types of clover, such as strawberry or red; it needs moisture when germinating but after that it can handle drier conditions.
White clover alone is good for low to moderate foot traffic. When mixed with grass seed, it can be used in high-traffic areas and can also tolerate drought better than when alone. You can seed the clover into an existing lawn or sow in bare spots; the clover will not need fertilizer.
Good luck!

thank you!

thank you!

Three young men lived in the

Three young men lived in the house before I bought it. They did not water the lawn, so consists of clumps of grass interspersed with bare ground and weeds. It is impossible to mow. I am hoping to put it all in clover except for a flower bed. I hate mowing and get asthmatic from the grass. My parents had clover and they didn't worry about mowing because it doesn't get as tall as grass. I want that.

Just a note to say:I live in

Just a note to say:I live in the south and had a problem with grass not growing under my trees so, I planted white clover under my trees and was very pleased with the coverage!!! Hey no mowing that is even better.

Does anyone know if cover is

Does anyone know if cover is poisonous to dogs. I would love to plant some in our dog area.

Hi Ives, Everyday clover is

Hi Ives, Everyday clover is not listed as being poisonous to dogs on the ASPCA site.
On vet sites, we see that "red clover" can both help certain medical conditions but also is unfriendly and possibly toxic in large quantities. Perhaps it's OK if your dog doesn't start ingesting lots of clover and simply plays (and pees) in it. To be safest, for your particular dog and its medical condition, we’d recommend that you ask your vet. Or, just not plant clover.
And of course, stay away from pesticides if the dog eats plants in the lawn.

One of the benefits of white

One of the benefits of white clover is that it doesn't turn yellow or burn when a female dog urinates on it. I have not found any info indicating that white clover is unsafe for animals. I am overseeding my lawn with it in the spring.

Clover isn't poisonous to

Clover isn't poisonous to dogs, or just about anything. The only issue is if it dies and spoils, it can be slightly poisonous to grazing animals.

Anti-clotting + temperature question

Yes, have read that anti-clotting drugs were developed after it was found that harvested red clover hay, as it broke down, was causing cattle to bleed internally.

What effect do the varieties (running buffalo, white/Dutch/repens, red, crimson) have on soil and surface temperatures? While growing and after cuttung?