Clover is a common issue in lawns, and there are multiple reasons why it might be thriving. Let’s take a look at some of the things that might be causing clover to flourish in your lawn and whether or not that’s a bad thing.
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What is Clover?
Clover is a perennial weed, which means that it’s likely to keep coming back. It’s very common across the U.S. and is easily recognizable by its small white or pink round flowers. Bees love clover, but whether or not you want it in your lawn is another story.
Why is a Clover Taking Over My Yard?
There are many reasons why clover might be thriving in your lawn. Here are just a few of them:
1. Your lawn is too dry
When your lawn doesn’t have enough water, the grass will slowly die off. When your grass is dying or unhealthy, weeds and other advantageous plants like clover do not have any competition. This makes it really easy for the clover to thrive and slowly take over your lawn.
Making sure that your grass gets enough water is an easy way to prevent clover from covering your lawn.
2. Your lawn is too wet
As we just mentioned, your lawn needs water. But it needs the right amount of water.
When you overwater your lawn, you’re essentially giving it more than it needs. The grass cannot soak up all the water, which leads to runoff, leaching away many of the things your lawn needs to grow, including nitrogen.
Overwatering ultimately creates an environment where clover thrives and grass does not.
3. Your soil is lacking nutrients
Every plant needs nutrients to survive, including clover. But clover is a lot more hardy than grass, and it has a better chance of surviving in nutrient-deficient soil.
Why? Because clover can use minerals from the air. This plant has special bacteria that live in the roots that help it survive in even the harshest conditions.
When your soil lacks nutrients, your grass won’t be able to flourish, giving the clover an opportunity to multiply across your lawn.
4. You’re mowing your lawn too short
Most homeowners have a tendency to mow their lawns too short, whether it’s because they don’t want to have to mow it as often or they just like the way it looks. But cutting your lawn too short gives clover an opportunity to spread.
When you leave your grass a little longer, it grows stronger and can effectively compete with clover and other weeds for nutrients in the soil.
5. The soil’s pH is off
Most grass prefers soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Clover, on the other hand, will grow in just about any pH. So, if the soil is too acidic or too basic to support a healthy lawn, your grass will suffer and clover will quickly spread.
Correctly soil pH is not difficult, but you have to know what you’re starting with. The only way to know what kind of amendments to add to your soil to correct the pH is to test your soil first.
6. The weather is too cool
While there’s not too much you can do about it, sometimes clover thrives because it takes advantage of cool weather, getting a head start on the grass. Why? Because grass relies on soil microbes breaking down nutrients to make them easier to absorb. Clover doesn’t have to do this.
How to Get Rid of Clover in Your Lawn?
If you have a lot of clover on your lawn and you want to get rid of it, there are many things you can try. They include:
Remember that clover thrives in environments where there is a nitrogen deficiency. So, it makes sense that correcting this type of deficiency will prevent clover from thriving. For best results, use a combination of fertilizer and weed killer that contains a lot of nitrogen.
2. Smother it
Like all plants, clover needs sunlight and oxygen to grow. If you have large patches of clover, cover them with a garbage bag or plastic sheet. After a few weeks without light and air, the clover will die. Be careful not to cover any grass as this method will kill your lawn as well.
3. Chemical weed killer
If you’re up for it, try a broadleaf herbicide that contains Dicamba or Mecoprop. These chemicals will kill the clover without damaging the surrounding lawn, though they can be harmful to other plants. Spot treat carefully to avoid killing anything unintentionally.
4. Pull it out
This approach is a little tedious but quite effective. Get down on your hands and knees and remove the clover manually. If you catch small clumps before the spread, you can likely keep the clover from spreading out of control.
5. Use natural weed control
An easy homemade weed killer is vinegar mixed with dish soap. Add it to a spray bottle and cover the clover with the mixture. With a few applications, the clover should start to die back.
6. Corn gluten
Corn gluten is a natural way to kill clover. You can usually find it at your local garden center. Just spread a thick layer over the clover, water it well, and allow it to dry.
Corn gluten releases dipeptides, which dries out the seeds of clover hidden under the surface and prevents them from germinating.
7. Long grass
As mentioned, clover has a hard time growing when the grass is kept long. By letting your grass grow to about three inches tall, it blocks the sunlight from getting to the soil and prevents the clover from germinating.
8. Treat bald patches
If your lawn has bald spots, plant new grass seed right away. Any open spot is a welcome home for clover. The faster you can get grass established in bare patches, the less likely it is that clover will pop up.
9. Water appropriately
Remember, too much and too little water can create an environment where clover can thrive. Take into account the natural rainfall and type of soil you’re working with, making sure your lawn gets enough water without fostering runoff.
Do You Have to Get Rid of Clover?
Some people hate the look of clover and want to remove it from their lawns, but you don’t really have to eliminate it. In fact, clover has a few benefits, like:
It can correct nitrogen imbalances naturally. Clover often grows in areas where the soil is low in nitrogen. It then pulls nitrogen in from the air and releases it into the soil, naturally correcting any nitrogen deficiencies.
Clover attracts bees and other insects. Not only does this encourage pollination of nearby plants, but it also attracts predator insects to your lawn that can kill off any pests.
Some people think it’s pretty. Clover stays green, and some people like the look of its small white flowers. Plus, it smells good!
It can eliminate other weeds. Clover essentially smothers other weeds that are trying to take over your lawn. Because it grows so aggressively, clover often prevents other weeds from growing.
There are many reasons that clover is taking over your lawn, and some are easier to correct than others.
Do you need to eliminate clover from your lawn? Not necessarily. It does have its benefits. But, if you don’t like the look of it or if it’s preventing your lawn from thriving, you now know multiple ways to get rid of it, once and for all.
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