Ever wonder why clover seems to grow better in your lawn than the grass does?
Why Clover Is Taking Over Your Lawn
There are probably several reasons for this, including the following:
The soil pH is too low or too high for lawn grass – Clover grows well in almost any pH so it'll be happy no matter what the soil pH is.
The soil is deficient in important nutrients, especially nitrogen – Clover thrives in nitrogen-deficient soil. In fact, white Dutch clover is an indicator plant for low nitrogen - meaning that if you see it growing in your lawn, it probably means the soil is low in nitrogen. A well-time application of organic spring lawn fertilizer can help.
The grass has been cut too short – Longer grass shades and crowds out other plants, such as clover. Keep your mower blade at 3 1/2 inches or higher to encourage taller grass and deeper roots. To keep your grass in tip-top shape, check out our Organic Lawn Care Tips.
The grass doesn’t get enough water – Stressed grass is less dense, leaving room for clover and other weeds. Try watering slowly and deeply (the soil should be moist all the way down to 4-6″ below the surface) once or twice a week during dry periods versus frequent, shallow watering. Watering in the morning prevents disease.
The soil is compacted (usually due to lack of organic matter) – Clover tolerates compacted soil better than lawn grass and has longer roots, enabling it to access water at deeper levels that your grass can.
Controlling Lawn Clover
So, what can you do about it? The best, organic, way to control clover in the lawn is to properly care for the lawn - mow high, water regularly so strong, thick, healthy growth is maintained, and feed the lawn properly with an organic lawn treatment.
For more details on how to get rid of clover in the lawn, check out our article on Cultural Practices to Reduce Lawn Weeds.
Benefits of Clover in the Lawn
However, you may want to consider leaving the clover alone. It wasn’t until recently, when herbicides became popular, that clover was considered a weed. In fact, lawn seed mixes used to deliberately include clover (such as white Dutch clover) – something that some seed providers are now starting to do again.
Because clover takes nitrogen out of the air and soil and makes it available to your lawn, it helps the lawn grow healthier and more pest-resistant, and reduces the amount of fertilizer required. It also requires less frequent mowing, attracts honeybees and other pollinators (although that may not be a positive if you're allergic to bee stings), and breaks up compacted soil. The one drawback is that it doesn’t stand up to heavy foot traffic quite as well as lawn grass.
So perhaps it's time to reconsider what a healthy lawn should look like. Maybe you'd be happy with a lovely swath of green – with beautiful white clover flowers throughout…