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Establishing a clover lawn

Posted by liacatherine VA (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 28, 07 at 16:35

After reading about the benefits of Dutch white clover as an alternative to grass, my husband and I decided to overseed our small lawn with it.

Our objective is wall-to-wall clover, but the current lawn has different kinds of grass, some clover, a few weeds, etc.

Do we need to kill what's there now before sprinkling the clover seed? Or will the clover (once it's growing) crowd out the grasses, dandelions, etc.?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Establishing a clover lawn

My limited experience based on just having some clover in my lawn, is...

1) No, clover will not outcompete the existing grass. Grass is the defacto ground cover for a is pretty aggressive stuff. I would suggest killing the grass by smothering it or using an herbicide such as RoundUp before seeding with clover.

2) No, nothing will outcompete dandelions! Unless your neighborhood is dandelion free, you will have to pull them during the year.

I have considered overseeding my lawn with clover. My biggest concern about this is that clover is pretty aggressive about spreading into my garden beds (plus my wife would complain about the "weeds"). I have also noticed that clover does not stand up to foot traffic as well as grass and that clover looks worse than grass during the hot and dry periods of summer. I wonder how an all clover area will do in the winter. Dormant grass does a decent job of keeping the mud down.

- Brent

RE: Establishing a clover lawn

I've discovered that dandelions can be controlled with the timely application of CMG (corn meal gluten). I started using it 4 years ago: year one prevented about 90% from sprouting, years 2 through now: I see maybe one dandelion during the summer. My neighbors on 2 sides hand pull, but the others just let their lawns go golden, so it is possible to have a dandelion-free lawn even if the neighbors don't.

As for clover: I wouldn't. It spreads like mad, but doesn't grow thick enough to ever be a lawn all by itself. Unless it's gotten into your garden, in which case you will discover that it is nearly impossible to eradicate. It dies back at the first frost leaving beige stems, rhizones and a lot of bare ground. Clover not only wilts if unwatered for several weeks, it takes a while to recover from our usual summer droughts; that means that either you waste water trying to keep the clover moist, or your lawn will have major bare spots throughout most of the summer.

Check with your local nurseries, lawn-care outfits, and the extension agent to find which grasses are best suited for your area. Then purchase the best quality (read the label, why pay for weedseeds?). Most lawns are indeed a mix of grasses because different varieties are more cold-tolerant, or more heat-tolerant, or drought tolerant thus allowing one variety or another to be green regardless of the weather. Gardens Alive [among other companies] sells varieties are that are durable and slow-growing, which means less fertilizing and less mowing.

RE: Establishing a clover lawn

I guess I don't know one clover from another...and maybe I'm missing something here, lawn is largely clover. It even out competes the bermuda grass and invades everywhere I don't want it. When it flowers, bees are a major problem. I've been stung as much as 3 times a day and the kids aren't allowed to play on it for this reason...when it's flowering that is.

RE: Establishing a clover lawn

About clover to crowd out grass: I have clover in the walk-ways of my yard. It seems to prevent the grass from returning. It has not minded our trampling over it. When I do see any grass I just pull it out. My experience with clover is that it stays green in the heat of summer when everyone else's grass has turned brown. It takes care of itself. I have some myrtle at the edges of the property and an herb garden and some flowers.

I gave up grass when I learned that every time I mowed it, that lovely smell is an enzyme that aids the digestion of the animals eating it. The problem is that when grass is cut by machine, the enzymes rise into the atmosphere and eats holes in the ozone layer. It is said to be equally as bad as automobile exhaust for the environment. I also didn't like the noise from lawn mowing.

I get lots of compliments on the beautiful green of the clover. There's really no maintenance. It gets water when I water my gardens. That's it. I like it and wouldn't give it up.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

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