Most lawn keepers love the uniform, green, aesthetically appealing turfgrasses on their yards. Sometimes, clover invades and destroys the aesthetic of the lawn. Therefore, you need to get rid of invasive clover to maintain a proper lawn.
You can get rid of clover in your lawn by removing it by hand if it covers a small area. However, more extensive clover patches might need organic measures. These include
- Smothering with a plastic bag
- Applying a vinegar and dish soap solution
- Using organic herbicides
Ultimately, the best method to permanently eliminate clover is to prevent its growth.
Here are the reasons I discovered why clover is growing on my lawn, how to remove it without destroying your turfgrass, and the best practices to prevent it from regrowing on your property.
Is Clover Bad for Lawns?
Clover is not always bad for the lawns. However, some people find it unattractive when it grows in desired turfgrass. When you grow it intentionally, Clover remains evergreen, adds more nitrogen to the soil, and all for minimal maintenance. Also, it is eco-friendly.
However, clover sometimes doesn’t blend with desired grass. It attracts bees, deer, and rabbits to the lawn. The last thing you want on your residential lawn is wild animals making it a common spot. Furthermore, its white or red flowers might destroy the green aesthetic of the property.
How to kill clover in the lawn without killing grass
If you don’t entertain bees and want an entirely green lawn, you probably dislike clover in your yard. Below are the best ways to remove this weed without killing your lush green grass.
1. Pull them by hands
If you have a young, unestablished clover plant that’s yet to before they bloom and produce flowers, the quickest way to get rid of them is by pulling them manually. However, manual removal is only practical if you’re removing the clover from a small area.
Loosen the soil surrounding the clover roots using a shovel or your hands, and pull the plant’s roots. Clover has shallow roots and comes out quickly. Clover is perennial. Therefore, ensure you remove the whole root system to prevent them from regrowing in the next season.
2. Cover it with plastic sheeting
A large plastic sheet is a helpful and readily-available tool that can get rid of clover. All plants require oxygen and sunlight to grow; they suffocate and die if you cut off both essential elements.
Covering clover with plastic sheeting is suitable if clover has covered a large section of the lawn. However, ensure there’s no grass-covered. If you cover the surrounding grass with plastic sheeting, it will die too.
Place a plastic sheeting to cover the areas of the lawn infested with clover. Secure the edges of the plastic sheeting with stones to prevent wind from blowing it away.
Uncover and reseed the area with new grass seeds. Plastic sheeting takes a few weeks to kill clover.
3. Mow the grass high
Clover is fast-growing and has creeping stems that lie just above the ground. It mainly thrives on a low-mowed lawn. Tallgrass blocks and prevents sunlight from reaching the clover. Sun deprivation kills the clover.
Raise the mower deck higher than 3 inches when cutting grass.
4. Apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers
Clover thrives in soil with low nitrogen soil, unlike turfgrasses. Clover is a legume and has bacteria in its roots’ nodules that fix the free nitrogen in the air to nitrate in the soil.
While it adds nitrogen to the soil, clover doesn’t survive in nitrogen-rich soil. To discourage it from growing, apply nitrogen-rich fertilizers to increase the nitrogen content. A fast-release fertilizer bombards soil with high nitrogen concentrations.
5. Apply organic weed killers
Organic weed killers are the best bet when killing most pesky weeds on your lawn without killing your grass. A.D.I.O.S (Advanced Development in Organic Solutions) is an organic weed killer that not only spares your grass but also is eco-friendly, odorless, and harmless to kids and pets.
A.D.I.O.S weakens and kills clover, removing it from the lawn. A.D.I.O.S is available in online stores or garden centers. Put the product in a spray bottle and spot spray the leaves and stems of the clovers to kill them and plant new grass seeds on the area.
6. Spray corn gluten meal on the clovers
Corn gluten meal acts as a pre-emergent herbicide. It has organic peptides that dry and prevents clover seeds from germinating and sprouting on the lawn.
For every 1000 square feet of lawn, you will need 20 pounds of corn gluten meal. Cover the yard with corn gluten meal, water in, and let the clover seeds dry.
Don’t apply corn gluten meal after overseeding with grass seeds because it will dry them. Corn gluten meal is available in garden or online stores.
7. Spot spray the clovers with a homemade solution.
A homemade mixture of vinegar and dish soap can kill unwanted clovers on the lawn. Vinegar works like a post-emergent herbicide and dries the clover, thus preventing it from growing. The dish soap sticks the vinegar on the clover.
Vinegar solution is simple to prepare and is readily available in your kitchen.
Here is the procedure to get rid of clovers using vinegar;
- Mix vinegar with dish soap in a spray bottle and shake.
- Spot spray the solution on the clovers, taking care not to spread on the surrounding grass. Vinegar is non-selective and will kill the grass if it lands on them.
- Wait for about 45 minutes for the clover to dry and turn brown, then loosen the soil and pluck the whole plant from the ground.
Why do I have so much clover on my lawn?
Clover growing on the lawn signifies poor yard maintenance. Low nitrogen content in soil, overwatering, mowing the grass short, and low soil pH are the reasons clover is overtaking your lawn.
Low nitrogen content
Clover thrives in low-nitrogen soils. They are nitrogen-fixing plants, meaning they add nitrogen to the ground. Clover has bacteria in their root nodules that convert free nitrogen in the air to nitrates and utilize it to grow green and healthy.
If you see clover growing on your lawn, test for nitrogen content in your soil. The soil might be nitrogen-deficient.
Overwatering the lawn
Clovers thrive in moist soils. Overwatering might be because of too much rain, bad irrigation systems, or incorrect watering cycles. Waterlogged soils are nitrogen-deficient, the perfect grounds for clover as a weed.
Mowing grass too short
Clovers have creeping stems that lie just above the ground. They tolerate low mowing heights less than 3 inches. You allow clover to thrive on your lawn if you usually mow your grass shorter than 3 inches.
Low soil pH
Most grasses grow in soils with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Lower or higher pHs make the grasses suffer as they cannot get the essential minerals. However, clover is opportunistic, and they thrive rather than deteriorate in low soil pH.
Tips to prevent clover taking over your lawn
Clover is a perennial plant that regrows yearly if not controlled. After removing the clover, take preventive measures to hinder regrowth. Here are the best practices to keep clover at bay from your lawn.
Apply nitrogen fertilizers
While grass species have different nitrogen requirements, they all require nitrogen supplements to grow green and healthy. However, clovers don’t need nitrogen fertilizers.
Apply slow-release commercial and organic fertilizers to favor your grass and discourage clovers from growing. Apply a maximum of 4 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet annually twice or thrice in the growing season. Commercial slow-release fertilizers are available online or in garden stores.
Phosphorus-rich bone meal, gutano, sawdust, and nitrogen-rich blood meal qualify as superior alternatives for organic fertilizer.
Mow the grass higher than 3 inches
Mowing grass too short allows clover to grow on the lawn. Always set your mower deck higher than 3 inches to make the grass taller, thus blocking sunlight and preventing clovers from overtaking your lawn.
Water the lawn once or twice weekly.
Overwatering waterlogs the soil and encourages clover to grow on the lawn.
To ensure your grass gets only enough moisture, water the lawn once or twice per week, depending on the type of soil and grass in your yard. Check if the grass blades leave dry footmarks when walking to know when to water your lawn.
Correct low soil pH
Low soil pH makes essential minerals and nutrients unavailable for grass to grow but allows clovers to thrive.
Perform a soil test to determine the pH. Take soil samples from different sections of your lawn to a garden lab or nearby university extension for testing. Apply lime to raise soil pH lower than the required level.
- Lowa State University: How do I control white clover in my lawn?
- UMass Amherst: White Clover in Lawns.