Clover is an easy plant to spot if it grows in your yard because it looks different from other plants. Trifolium is the formal name for this beautiful flower. Since “tri” means “three” and “folium” means “leaves,” “Trifolium” means “three leaves.” And that’s exactly what you can see on clover plants. Each leaf has three lobes, and based on their shape, I think the “clubs” suit in a deck of cards got its name from them.
The flowers are round and have a lot of small petals on each one. They attract bees like crazy because they are full of nectar and have pollen that is high in protein. Which, it turns out, is a great thing for bee larvae to eat.
There are different kinds of clover. Trifolium repens has white flowers, Trifolium pratense has red or pink flowers, Trifolium arvense is a cute little plant with fluffy flowers, and Trifolium dubium, or yellow suckling clover, has, you got it, yellow flowers.
Most clovers grow slowly and don’t mind being mowed. Agricultural types, on the other hand, can grow to almost knee height and are very strong.
Clover is a type of plant called a legume. Peas, beans, and vetches are also grown. All of the plants in that family are able to fix nitrogen from the air and add it to the soil where they are growing. Because of this, they are very valuable and useful plants to have in a crop cycle.
If a yard doesn’t have a secret way for clover to get in, it won’t grow there. Let’s find out how it is sneaking onto your lawn.
When the soil is packed down, the roots of grass can’t get the water, air, and nutrients they need to grow healthy. Clover’s thick, linked roots help it grow well in poor, compacted soil where grass dies and loses its color. Clover can take over patches of your lawn where the grass is getting thin or has died.
Fix: Aerating your yard on a regular basis loosens the soil and gives the grass roots room to breathe and nutrients to grow. If the grass grows well, there won’t be any empty spots where clover can grow. Your aeration schedule will rely on where you live and what kind of soil you have, but most people should do it once a year.
Since clover is a legume, it takes nitrogen from the air and turns it into a form that plants can use. This is not an option for turfgrass. In places with little nitrogen, grass has a hard time staying alive, but clover grows well. In fact, it’s a sign that the land doesn’t have enough nitrogen.
Use a nitrogen-rich fertilizer on your yard to fix it. Nitrogen fertilizer will give your grass the energy it needs to fight off clover. Grass will grow faster and stronger, but clover won’t notice a difference because it already fixes nitrogen on its own. In fact, nitrogen can stop legumes from growing.
You can choose a synthetic, fast-release fertilizer to make plants grow quickly, or you can choose an organic, slow-release fertilizer for its long-term benefits.
Some excellent organic fertilizer options include:
Synthetic fertilizer that works quickly is a quick fix, but it will hurt your soil and the earth over time. Organic fertilizer will take longer to do its job, but it will make the earth healthier and help the grass grow for a longer time.
Grass grows best when the pH is between 6 and 7. Clover can help when your soil is too acidic or too alkaline (basic).
Even though most types of clover like pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0, they can handle pH levels that grass can’t. Alsike clover can grow in soils with a pH as low as 5.5, red clover can grow in soils with a pH over 7.0, and strawberry clover can grow in soils with a pH between 5.3 and 8.2.
Fix: Check your lawn’s dirt and make any changes that are needed. First, find out how to test your soil by calling your local cooperative extension office.
Once you know the pH of your soil, you can change it to make it better for grass. Add lime or wood ash to dirt that is too acidic. If the soil is too acidic, add waste or sulfur.
You might think that mowing close to the ground would hurt clover, but all it does is stress your grass. When you cut at a height of 3 inches or more, the grass wins: The tall grass stops the sunlight from reaching the lower-growing clover. Without sunlight, clover can’t grow and thrive.
Fix: The fix is to turn your mower’s deck up to the highest setting and mow your yard higher than 3 inches. This will make your grass grow taller and make clover less likely to grow there. Follow the “one-third rule” to keep your yard from getting stressed: don’t cut more than one-third of the grass height at one time.
Too little of a good thing or too much of it is… Well, you know the saying, and it’s true that you should water your yard when it’s dry. If you don’t water your grass enough, it will get brown and wilt, and it won’t be able to compete with clover, which can handle weather better than turfgrasses.
When you water grass too much, it gets fungus, diseases, shallow roots, and the earth gets packed down. All of these things make it hard for grass to grow and make it easy for clover and a lot of other plant weeds to get in.
Fix: Water your yard often, but don’t water it too shallowly or too often. You can water your yard 1-1.5 inches once a week, or you can do it twice a week. Water should go 6 to 8 inches deep into the dirt to reach your roots. So, grass roots will grow deep and be able to stand up to dryness.
Tip: Water your grass in the morning before 10 a.m. Don’t water your grass at night. It will get sick if you do.
Clover grows best in places that are cool and wet. Grass? Well, it depends. Depending on where you live, you need either cool-season grass, warm-season grass, or both. If you put the wrong grass for your area, it will have a hard time adjusting to the weather and may get sick, wilt, and die. That makes clover the perfect “in” to your lawn.
Most clover grows in the north and middle of the United States, where cool-season grasses do well. If your lawn has warm-season grasses like Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermudagrass, it’s easy for clover to take over.
Fix: Make sure you put grass that grows well in your area. Check out our complete guide to find out what kind of grass you have and which grass seeds will help it grow.
If you aren’t sure which grass is best for your area, you can get seeding help from your cooperative extension service.
Most lawn plants like the sun, and clover does too. Clover won’t grow in your yard just because it’s sunny. However, if your lawn has other problems, like compacted soil or too much grass cutting, clover can start to grow there.
Fix: Make sure your lawn stays as healthy as possible. If you know that clover will grow in your yard, you should give it as few reasons as possible to do so. Your yard can stay free of clover if you overseed, fertilize, aerate, and water it right.
You can stop clover from growing in your yard in a number of ways.
Using organic fertilizer that releases nitrogen slowly will make clover less likely to grow in your yard. Some residents like traditional, fast-release fertilizer because it grows grass quickly and costs less. But in the long run, plants that use organic fertilizer will grow better. Cow manure, guano, blood meal, bone meal, earthworm casts, and liquid kelp are all examples of organic fertilizers that are often used.
Organic peptides from the corn meal gluten get into the earth and stop the clover from growing. This won’t kill current clover, but it will stop new seeds from growing. It will do this for all seeds, though, so don’t use it if you just reseeded your lawn.
Luckily, this won’t hurt the grass that’s already there. You can buy corn gluten meal at a yard store near you or on the Internet.
The best grass for clover is grass that is less than 3 inches tall. This height makes your grass work harder, which makes it easier for clover to grow. If you let your grass grow long, it has an edge over the clover, making it easier for the grass to win.
Clover could grow in your garden for a number of reasons, most of which have to do with the soil.
You might not like the way clover looks, but it can help your lawn.
Not everything is bad about having clover in your yard. Some people even plant it. Before the 1950s, clover was a favorite of homes. Clover covered the ground when nothing else would because it is hardy and can grow in poor soil that doesn’t hold water well. But over time, pure turf grass became the usual way to take care of a lawn.
Clover is still a low-maintenance plant that you don’t have to mow as often as other greens, even though tastes change. It can also grow in hard conditions and keep your lawn green during dry times. Plus, clover gives bees and other insects a way to get food. Clover seeds are used by many farmers and gardeners because the plant feeds and improves the soil.
Read on for answers to some common questions about the weed with three leaves and white flowers that can take over your beautiful yard.
Clover and other weeds can be killed by a selective pesticide, but grass will not be hurt. Avoid using herbicides that can hurt any plant they come into touch with. Even if you use a selective pesticide, it’s best to treat weeds one at a time instead of spraying them with chemicals.
If your idea of a beautiful yard is a smooth carpet of grass blades that are all the same length, you may want to get rid of clover. There are good reasons, however, to invite clover: It smells great, stays green even when it’s dry, attracts bees and other helpful bugs, and can even cover other weeds.
When it’s easier for the weed to grow than the grass, clover can take over your yard. For example, if your lawn doesn’t have enough nitrogen, clover is likely to grow well. Clover is a perennial plant, which means that if it is there during one growing season, it will probably be there again the next.