Anyone Overlooked the Benefits of Clover?

greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)March 30, 2007

The pros are compelling.

Clover adds greenness to a lawn. It stays green even during dry

spells in which many cool-season grasses turn brown. If your taste

runs to green lawn all season, including clover in it will save you

the work and cost of watering and fertilizing the lawn during its mid-

summer dormancy.

Clover manufactures fertilizer for your grass by fixing nitrogen. You

don't have to buy and distribute additional fertilizer -- more

savings.

One of the strongest ecological objections to a lawn is its lack of

diversity, and due to that, its ill-suitedness as a habitat. Clover

allows your lawn to support more wildlife. Its nectar keeps the bees

around so they can perform services like pollinating your fruit trees

and vegetables. Having a variety of plants in your lawn along with

the grasses will increase the diversity of insects and their

predators, and this will keep insect populations under control.

Research and observation support the stability of a diverse lawn.

Clover attracts parasitoid wasps, which are welcomed by fruit and

vegetable growers. Robert Kourik, an expert on edible landscaping

writes that white clover (Trifolium repens) attracts "parasitic wasps

of aphids, scales, and whiteflies." But don't panic; these are not

the wasps that build nests in doorways and hover around picnics, and

most of them cannot even sting a person; they are too small.

A clover-rich lawn smells better than a chemically fertilized (or

herbicide-treated) one. It can't overpower the fumes of a charcoal

grill or city buses, but that fresh smell might reach your glad nose

every so often.

Clover has even been used as a substitute for lawn in an area that

doesn't get a lot of trampling.

As for those bees in the clover, in Clover Lawns - Alternatives to

Lawn Grass, David Beaulieu assures us that "if you are allergic to

bee stings, to be on the safe side you can simply mow more frequently

during the blooming season."

By Evelyn J. Hadden

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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Tried seeding the ENTIRE lawn last spring. I ended up with few patches. Just to show you how effective thick tall grass will work to keep weeds under control... Now that i think about it, I probably should have core aerated first before seeding...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 10:13AM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

I know, I saw your other post (not sure which forum it was on, we get around don't we? LOL). I was thinking the same thing.

Another thing occured to me, too. If you're thinking about seeding with the clover again, and you're also looking to incorporate some Myco Fungi into the soil, maybe after core aeration you could coat the clover seeds with Myco spores. That's what I'm thinking of doing as soon as it warms up a little. Also, you may be able to rent a truck at the same location as the aerator if you go to Home Depot or Menards.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 10:42AM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

greenjeans,

As you know, I'm a newbie and am very open to explore new things. :)

What are clovers? Can you please show me a picture?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 3:17PM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

Here's some:

Here is a link that might be useful: Dutch White Clover...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 5:20PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Clover video

Clover in Vogue

Lou, Dutch white clover grows much better in acidic soil. It looks pretty pitiful in most of Texas.

And to be sure we are only talking about Dutch white clover, the one with the white flowers. Other clovers grow much higher and are considered livestock forage. Black medic and oxalis have leaves shaped like clover but they are not nearly as friendly in a turf.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 6:06PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

I saw the picture. I'm sure that when I plant it and when it grows, my neighbors, my wife, will think it's a weed. My guess is that when people sees foreign plant in your lawn, they will think it's a weed.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 6:09PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

I'm very convinced after seeing the links that dchall_san_antonio posted. Now, how would I counter my wife's reaction once she sees tons of clover flowers? Like what the old man said, the BIG GUYS brainwashed us that those are weeds. Does it really look bad at all when we are close to it?

And also, since I just applied CGM, it is not a good idea to plant clovers, right? For a 9500 sqft lawn, how much pounds of clover do I need?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 6:19PM
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lawnkidd(z7MD)

vlrtu0s1ty:

Seeding Rate: 1/4 lb per 1000 square feet or 6 to 8 lbs per acre

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 10:50AM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

I was sharing what I've just learned from this thread to my officemate about an hour ago. Found out that he has clovers on his lawn too. He said that it appears in patches and he doesn't like it. He also said that it's invasive. The clovers are overpowering his grass. What if this happens to me, what can be done?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 3:44PM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

If you follow good organic practice this can't happen to you. The reason his clover is invasive is because his grass is week. He probably mows short, bags his clippings and waters for 10-15 minutes three or more times a week.

On the other side of the coin, maybe he does very little. Maybe he mows once every couple of weeks and chops it down real short thinking he won't have to mow again for awhile. He may also have fescue turf that is a clumping type of grass that's grown thin due to years of improper care and lack of overseeding when needed. If this is the case it may be the clover is the only thing saving the grass he has.

Grass that's healthy and has strong roots and is well maintained won't be overrun by clover. Clover is an opportunistic plant that will gladly take up empty space in a lawn where the grass won't grow. It only becomes "invasive" when the turf is sickly and thin.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 4:12PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

Can you guys give me a reliable/trustworthy store that I can buy a genuine white clover?

Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 4:41PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

Sorry guys, I just really want to be safe since I have 4 small kids. I was looking at this link, http://njaes.rutgers.edu/weeds/weed.asp?whiteclover

What are your comments?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 4:48PM
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bpgreen(5UT)

My opinion on the reason that white clover fell from favor is that the fertilizer companies started selling the weed and feed products, which killed all broadleaf plants, including clovers.

As a result, clover started disappearing on lawns. I don't really think it had anything to do with the relative merits of clover.

If you control weeds with a weed hound or if you spot spray broadleaf weeds, I think clover can fit in nicely.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 9:50PM
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woodycrest(Ontario, Canada)

this is clover...



    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 10:48PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

Thanks for the pics. That helps me a lot. After seeing the pics, I'm afraid my wife won't like it. Your white clover is taking over your grass. How often does clover bloom its flower?

To be fair, your lawn really looks healthy!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 1:02AM
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woodycrest(Ontario, Canada)

THats organic turf at its finest!

THe clover isnt taking over the grass, it is in balance with the grass.
THe clover blooms in june and the blooms last roughly 3-4 weeks.
Outside the time the clover blooms, the grass thrives...particularly in may and late september. During a hot summer this turf goes totally brown and crunchy, but always comes back with a vengeance with the autumn rains.

It is actually a small pitch and putt golf course that has existed since the 1920s and has never had any 'servicing' besides mowing until i started using light applications of soybean meal and corn on the greens and fairways the last several years.

this pic is in august...as i said , once the clover is finished blooming the grass thrives!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 5:50AM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

In my case, in order for the lawn to be within the WAF, the clover I have to choose should have small leaves, short and still has strong N fixation features. I'm guessing that there are many clover species. Any recommendation as to what clover I should look for? Right now, I think, white clover is a generic name but I could wrong.

By the way, correct me if I am wrong, looks like you are cutting your grass really short. Doesn't it contradicts with what other folks recommends here? They say to put the highest setting in mower. Don't think that I'm bashing on your lawn. I'm a newbie on lawn care. I just want to learn how to do it right. As you can see, I'm really interested in clovers. :D

Thanks for the inputs! Awesome pic, it doesn't look like there are clovers!

Oh, does the entire area have clovers?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 8:39AM
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woodycrest(Ontario, Canada)

greens are at 3/4" fairways 1.5" roughs at 3.5"

the mowing high thing is the way to go, but i have found that chopping it short once in a while seems to invigorate the growth. I look after about 10 acres of turf in total...clearly my methods contradict the reccomended methods at times. A little experimentation never hurts.
I have scalped much of that turf down to nothing at times...it takes week or two to recover, but it always comes back.

THe clover is everywhere..and has always been there. I have not planted any clover seed.

you can bash me if you want ..i have been bashed many times before. :)

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 8:57AM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

Yeah, woody bashing is fun! ; )

Don't forget to mention you have Bentgrass. Bent and Bermuda both do much better when mowed short as compared to any other grass. When Bentgrass is allowed to grow too tall it will sinise at the base of the plant turning yellow and sickly. It's also sooo incredibly thick that it holds a lot of moisture and becomes a haven for pest and disease. I've never experienced any turf that grows as thick as this stuff does. I had to buy a special mower because my regular rotary mower could barely handle it even at tall cutting heights. It would bog down and die out even when going really slow. It took forever to mow 5k sq.ft.

Greenjeans

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 11:54AM
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woodycrest(Ontario, Canada)

Greenjeans,
LOL. :)

Actually in this case, there is only bent on the greens..even there it is entwined with clover.
The clover wreaks havoc with the putting surface while it is blooming, so it requires frequent(every other day cutting) but after that it causes no problems.
Last spring one of the greens was torn to shreds by skunks the 'grass'was totalled, but the clover filled in rapidly. A simple tossing around some bent seed by hand then i mowed as usual. By june, you would almost never know the green was destroyed.
seed, water, and photosynthesis...could it be any simpler?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 12:53PM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

Just curious; does the bent creep off the green much? It's colonial bent, right?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 3:46PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I love woodycrest's pictures. And I love the way his golf courses look (in the pictures?!?). You would have to read and see his "before" description/pictures to get a full appreciation for the improvement he's made since he started with the organic approach. I remember him describing the greens as being so hard as to give a bounce to the ball like hitting asphalt.

He just posted a link to a bunch of his pictures if you haven't seen them.

Here is a link that might be useful: woodycrest's picture thread

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 3:46PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

So guys, after doing some google, some recommend the Dutch White Clover. Is this the one that I should buy? Are they available in local nurseries?

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 4:11PM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

I believe the Dutch White Clover to be the best for home lawns and is the one I'll be using. I'm not sure if they're available in nurseries or not. That's a very good question. I'd suggest that no matter where you get it read the label and make sure the "weed" count is less than .05% and noxious weeds are "none found". This assuming that clover seed is held to the same standards as grass seed. Does anyone here who's bought clover seed know for sure? I'm more familiar with grass seed labels thanks to DcHall from many, many months ago. Wonder what ever happended to Bestlawn? She was nice.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 1:14PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

hi greenjeans,

Everytime I see woodycrest's 2nd and 3rd picture, I get worried. I see few grass on the picture. I've been having a hard time deciding if I really should get it or not. In fact, I got a price today for the Dutch white clover, $3/lbs.

So woodycrest, when the white flowers bloom, when do you mow it? How long do you let it stay in your lawn? Do you mulch it or bag?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 11:20PM
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woodycrest(Ontario, Canada)

greenjeans,

yeah...its colonial highland bent..and it does creep.

i have found that the blooms on the clover always grow higher than the grass, so everytime i mow it chops the blooms off. After 3 or 4 weeks the clover is done blooming and its just green. THe 4th picture above shows the height of the blooms. I mow when the turf needs it..and this is not neccesarily once a week. I have mulched and side discharged..i seldom bag. The only difference between mulching and side discharge is that side dicharging leaves visible clippings.
I follow the same process for dandelions...cut the pretty yellow flowers off before they turn white.(the clover comes out soon after the dandelions are done). over a few seasons of chopping the heads off, the dandelion population is minimal. People used to complain about the dandelion seeds blowing from the golf course onto their properties, but that is no longer an issue.
watch out for black medic...the leaves look like clover but are darker green .. the flowers are yellow. its nasty stuff!!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 8:22AM
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greenjeans_il(zone5 IL)

So don't plant it. You don't HAVE to plant clover to have a healthy organic lawn. If your turf does well without clover then you won't need to worry about it. The reason I posted the article above was to show that there are ways to curb or mend problems that some people have in their lawns by incorporating clover. Not to mention the highly nutritional aspect it offers the grass plants. The same nutrition can be supplied by other means but it makes for a little more work and can sometimes be unsuccesful. If conditions in your lawn don't call for clover then you don't need it.

And in your defense; yeah woody, that's a lot of friggin' clover dude! An option may be to plant it at a half rate or quarter rate and see how it does. If your turf is thick and healthy it won't overtake it. Plant a small area at 1/8 or 1/16 of a lb. and see how it looks. Experiment in small areas. Build a little "clover garden" so to speak. Just remember that it's 1/4lb/1000sq.ft. So if you want to experiment in a small area (say an area about 100sq.ft.) you'd divide that lesser rate by 10.

What I don't recomend is if you're not sure you want it, don't plant all over because it's REALLY hard to get rid of. You could do a complete kill (of turf and all) and start over but you'd still find clover poppin' up in some places. The seeds are hard to kill and can live forever in the soil until conditions are right for germination. Because of this fact, there's no guarantee you won't wind up with clover anyway! I've never even seen a clover seed much less planted one and I've got several small patches of it in my lawn. I was at first concerned about it but after learning about its many benefits I've decided it to be a good thing. You could say I've adopted the old "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality. : )

Greenjeans

P.S. Biodiversity is not a bad thing! Change your thinking and it will change your feeling. You'll worry less.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 8:27AM
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macbirch(ACT Aust)

Lovely pictures Woodycrest.

I didn't know that having clover in a lawn is unusual until I found GW. Here in Australia it's very common. Or it was. The drought has made dead lawns fashionable. Even the clover finally succumbed. Wonder if it will come back. There are some new drought-hardy grasses on the market but I don't know if they are being grown with clover. We're not thinking about what to do until next spring. The preferred clover here has been strawberry clover as it flowers less. We used to cut quite high and it took care of the few flowers that did come up. The nitrogen thing and the greenness that Greenjeans talked about are the reasons Aussies have liked clover in their lawns. So don't be afraid to try it (well, in a small bed first if you prefer).

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 12:17PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

macbirch, the clover should come back from seed once the rains returns to Oz.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 10:15AM
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macbirch(ACT Aust)

Thanks. We've had a bit of rain this autumn (fall) but the situation is still uncertain. Of course the weeds seem to get started quickly with only the lightest drizzle. Don't mind the minor amount of handweeding when the lawn's growing lushly but it's a real pain in drought. Now I'll go rest my eyes on Woodycrest's pictures again.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 10:12AM
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woodycrest(Ontario, Canada)

glad you enjoyed the pics macbirch :)

things are finally feeling like spring around here,and things are greening up... so i should be posting some updated pics soon.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 12:59PM
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mamimo(Sunset 16)

How do we control the spread of clover? We like the idea of clover lawn and think we can deal with the bees and strange looks from neighbors. But I think the neighbors would be furious if our clover starts encroaching into their carefully manicured lawns.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 2:55PM
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tarheel23

I'm interested in micro clover. If I can get some of that, I may mix it in with my seed this Fall.

www.microclover.com

    Bookmark   May 20, 2007 at 3:58PM
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kelleynelson

I thought the microclover was interesting as well - I wish I knew what the actual species of clover was so I wouldn't be forced to buy it from the company that just happens to market the clover under that name.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 4:29PM
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tarheel23

Kelly,

If you look at the website, you can see the difference in the size of the clover leaves. I don't think it's regular white clover.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 8:26PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

How high are these microclovers? Does it also flower? Is the vendor telling the truth that it will prevent weeds?

Does our lawn really benefit from clovers? It's because, I have seen areas before with clovers but it tends to prevent grass from surviving in the area where the clovers are. However, I don't know if it was the good clover though.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 10:11PM
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v1rtu0s1ty(5a)

and also, are clovers invasive?

I'm trying to really convince my self with the facts they wrote on their website. They have picture too. So guys, will clover really continually feed our blades making it green all year?

Few more and I'll become a clover convert! Hahaha! Oh, for my 25 lbs kentucky bluegrass seed, how much pounds of these microclovers should it be? I don't want it to dominate the lawn since I want the KBG's intense dark green color to dominate.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 10:32PM
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gbig2(6)

I hesitate to post to such an old thread but I'm going to because I found the post, started by greenjeans, fascinating. A couple questions:
Greenjeans, did you seed with clover and how are the results? Do you regret doing it? Did you overseed with a clover/grass mixture or just clover, etc.?

For anyone that missed it, the link provided by dchall to safelawns.org, is a must see web site. Lots of great videos and info.

After seeing the video on clover I'm re-evaluating my overseeding plans. I'm considering overseeding my KBG/rye/fescue lawn, exclusively with dutch white clover or this microclover (if it's available in the USA). My 3 year old, thin, patchy, acre lot is %70 grass, %5 clover, %25 weeds. I was going to overseed with a ryegrass mix from Lesco and pay about $200 on seed. But for $30 I can overseed with clover. Plus the money I save by not having to fertilize as much or at all, and all the other benefits of clover.

I can live with the white flowers for 3 weeks out of the year if it means my lawn is greener and healthy the other 49 weeks out of the year.
Any feedback would be appreciated. I'm still on the fence as to whether to overseed with just clover or mix clover in with grass seed.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 1:05PM
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chelydra(z6a MA)

Just found this thread, and would appreciate advice. I go for a semi-natural lawn: turf grass, but with some wildflowers encouraged.

I'm a convert to white clover. It has taken years to get the stuff established in my lawn, which is in thin topsoil over a deep layer of glacial sand - very dry! It's finally spreading in some areas, and I'm hoping will fill in the barest places where grass just won't grow. (I mulch-mow, but don't water as a rule.)

I've been mowing a couple of times in the spring, then waiting to cut again until about July. This lets my favorite wildflowers go to seed; then I have a mostly-grass lawn again through autumn.

Clover seed is expensive. It also seems that letting it naturalize should encourage the hardiest strains for this plot. So here's the questions: how long after flowering do I have to wait for seeds I've never actually seen seed on the plants; I guess it falls/blows out as soon as it's ripe.

I've read that the flowers die as soon as they've been fertilized. Is there some fixed number of days from when the flowers start to wilt until I can mow without losing all the seed?

Thanks-

Chelydra

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 8:59AM
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gbig2(6)

Good questions Chelydra, I wish I had answers for you. I do have more questions though for you or anyone:
You say you encourage wildflowers? How so? I've been looking into wildflowers. Since I'm aerating this fall anyway, could I choose part of the lawn to overseed with wildflowers? All my research into wildflower lawns seems to involve ripping up turf, making sure all the weeds are gone, etc. But I think I could live with having turf and wildflowers together. Can I just very heavily aerate then throw wildflower seeds around?

One more question for Chelydra or anyone; overseeding this fall with a mix of grass seed and clover, does this mean that I shouldn't use corn gluten meal next spring? I want to encourage clover to spread, and clover spreads by seed so I'd be a fool to use CGM in the spring? Can I ever use CGM in the future if I'm trying to encourage clover? So basically, can CGM be used in a turf/clover lawn?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 11:37AM
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chris_ont(5a Ont)

If you overseed in the fall then you'll be okay to use CGM in the spring. As long as the seeds sprouted in the fall and got themselves established, anyway. If you are putting down clover as a winter-sowing process, then CGM in the spring will cause trouble.

I did this last fall, after hand-pulling an incredible crabgrass invasion, and then used CGM as fertilizer and germination prevention in the Spring. Worked very well for me.
I plan to overseed with clover in the fall to fill the last of the gaps/thin spots.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 2:39PM
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chelydra(z6a MA)

[gbig] ... You say you encourage wildflowers? How so? ... Can I just very heavily aerate then throw wildflower seeds around?

I used to buy wildflower seed. Now I just wait to see what blows in. A few times each season, I top or pull the plants I don't like; after a few years, it's mostly stuff I do like that dominates.

Back on topic: clover grows much more densely than gress, at least where I am. So while wildflowers fill in former lawn pretty quickly, clover seems like an effective weed/wildflower suppressant.

-Chelydra

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 9:35AM
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tewitt1949

I just reseaded my lawn with whit clover. We like clover, looking for 4 leaf clovers. My grand kids love looking. Finding 4 leaf, 5 and ocasionally a 6 leaf clover.

Farm and home in Sparta mich has white clover.
Family Farm & Home112 1/2 N State St,
Sparta, MI 49345
(616) 205-5470

They have 2 clovers. One for about $3.50 lb but the one you want is about $4.50 lb. The seed is very small and goes a long way. Its very easy to over seed. But I'd rather do that.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 11:07PM
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CPTK

You replied to a 7 year old thread. Regardless, clover really should be a part of any organic lawn program.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 8:49PM
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