Ah, the clover. A sign of good luck on Saint Patrick’s Day (and an unlucky sight for many homeowners the rest of the year), she can be a pesky weed for homeowners who don’t want a yard full of small, round, white or pink flowers (or the bees that seem to be constantly buzzing around them).
This low-growing perennial weed has many varieties; all feature three round leaflets sitting on the end of a long stalk. The most common type of clover is the white clover (Trifolium repens), a member of the legume family, which is closely related to the agricultural crops alfalfa and sweet clover. It produces its own nitrogen, which means that it will thrive in under-nourished lawns.
Although it’s pretty stubborn, clover can actually be beneficial to your lawn. The nitrogen it brings into the soil encourages grass growth when it decomposes. In fact, some grass blends even include micro-clover as a welcome addition to a lawn!
While some homeowners may like clover growing in their lawn, others may want to control it because they think it looks messy or are concerned about their children being stung by bees circling the flowers.
Should you be looking to control the clover in your lawn, there are a couple of helpful tips that we at GreenPro wanted to share with you so that you can be sure to do it right.
How to Control Clover in the Lawn
- Keep Your Lawn Well-Fed
Constantly battling clover? You may be dealing with a bigger problem. The best way to control clover is to stop it before it starts. One way is to feed your lawn regularly (four times per year), which provides grass with the nutrients it needs to grow thick and strong. Thick lawns are able to crowd out weeds like clover.
- Pull Clover Manually
If you happen to notice clover early, you can remove it from small areas by hand before it forms flowers and starts to spread. Clover spreads by seed and creeping stems that root along the ground, so be sure to pull it sooner than later. The best way? Gently loosen the soil around the base with a spade or your fingers, then pluck the clover up. Be sure you get all of the root.
- Raise Your Mower’s Height
While it may be tempting to lower your mower’s height to mow all the clover down, it’s actually more beneficial to raise it. Clover is low-growing and its roots are shallow. By raising your mowing height and letting your grass grow a little taller, you block sunlight, which helps prevent clover from growing.
- Cook it
A natural way to thwart clover is to deprive it of sunlight and oxygen. Place plastic sheeting (a garbage bag will do) on top of clover, securing the corners so it won’t blow away. This ought to kill the weed in a few weeks, but use this method only on large clover patches; otherwise, surrounding grass will probably experience collateral damage.
- Douse it
A natural remedy that many gardeners find effective is to mix vinegar with a small amount of dish soap, put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spot treat clover clumps. (Just be careful to avoid surrounding plants!)
- Kill it with corn gluten
Available for purchase online or at your local garden center, corn meal gluten can inhibit clover growth without causing ill effects to nearby plants. It releases organic dipeptides into the soil, which dry out seeds and make it more difficult for them to sprout. Spread about 20 pounds of corn gluten meal per 1,000 square feet of lawn, water well, and allow to dry naturally.
- Knock it out with Nitrogen
Generally speaking, a well-fertilized lawn keeps all weeds at bay, but ensuring proper nitrogen levels will give you an extra edge against clover. Since a lack of nitrogen allows clover to thrive, try a nitrogen-rich weed-and-feed formula. Organic fertilizers might do the trick if you have a small amount of clover, but if your lawn is becoming overrun, choose a standard fertilizer that is not slow release.
- Bring Out the Big Guns
If these more organic, DIY-style remedies don’t get rid of your clover, broadleaf herbicides can do the job. Products that contain the chemicals Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, Mecoprop, and Dicamba generally do the trick, disrupting normal growth patterns and causing the weeds to twist, the leaves to cup, and the stems to crack. While these herbicides don’t harm surrounding grass, they can hurt some garden plants and insects, so it’s wise to spot treat directly on clover rather than apply freely.
- Water Properly
If you’re going to use weed killer to kill the clover in your lawn without chemicals, you should keep your lawn properly watered. It’s best if you can water deeply (1 inch – enough to fill a tuna can) once or twice per week. The day after one of those deep waterings when the grass is not stressed out, you can apply weed killer to kill the weeds in your lawn without killing the grass. If you spray the weed killer on a lawn that isn’t getting water and is stressed out by heat and drought, you may end up killing your grass as well. So, before you kill the weeds in your lawn, make sure you’re keeping your lawn well watered.
When it comes to different types of weeds and treating them effectively, GreenPro are the specialists! Need help managing this pesky perennial? Give us a call; GreenPro will make sure your eyes are smiling all year long…Irish or not!