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.
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.