How to Grow a Clover Lawn
Clover is a member of the legume family that’s becoming a popular alternative to grass for front and backyard lawns, mostly because clover is affordable, easy to grow, simple to maintain, and drought-resistant. Moreover, clover also attracts pollinating insects like bees, attracts deer, requires no fertilization, grows in poor soil, and requires very little attention and no mowing. Clover can also be seeded over an existing lawn and grows well with grasses. To get the most out of your clover lawn, prepare your soil properly first and use take care of your clover while it is germinating. Make sure that your yard and climate are well suited to growing clover before you plant.
Getting the Soil Ready
Test your soil pH.Start by determining whether you have the right kind of soil to allow clover to thrive. Most varieties of clover do best in soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0, although some do well in soil with a pH as high as 8.5.Purchase a soil testing kit from your local nursery or garden center. A soil testing kit can also tell you if your soil has any nutrient or mineral deficiencies.
- If your soil pH is too low, you can adjust it by adding lime to the soil.
- Correct a soil pH that is too high by mixing in peat moss or sawdust.
- You may need to allow up to 6 months for any adjustment to take full effect, so do your testing well in advance of when you want to plant.
- Get a type of clover that works best with your soil pH. Research clover varieties online, or check with your plant nursery or garden center.
Treat the area with weed killer.Before you plant clover, you will need to get rid of any unwanted plant growth. Use a weed killer, such as Roundup, to eliminate any existing turf, weeds, or other unwanted plants.
- Some types of weed treatments, such as systemic herbicides or chemical broadleaf treatments, may require you to wait up to two weeks before planting new ground cover. Follow all label directions carefully.
Till the soil a month before planting.Clover seeds will do best if they don’t have to compete with weeds while they're getting established. To remove all vegetation, rocks, and debris from the area, till or rake the soil to a depth of about eight inches (20 cm).
- Tilling a month in advance will give any weeds time to regrow so you can remove them before planting.
- Tilling now will also make it easier to change the soil if the pH needs to be adjusted.
Water the area daily.To encourage latent weeds and vegetation to grow, provide the tilled area with a light misting of water every day. This process will help you eliminate weeds in a couple weeks, right before planting the clover seeds.
- You don’t have to worry about watering if you're getting sufficient rain during this time.
Remove weeds.A couple days before planting, use a spade or small shovel to dig up any weeds that have sprouted up since you tilled the land. This will kill competition and give the clover the best possible chance of thriving.
- You can also use a scythe to cut them out.
Planting Clover Seed
Mix the seed with sand.Clover seeds are very small and lightweight. To ensure they spread evenly, it’s best to mix them with another medium that will make them easier to distribute on the ground. You will need about 2 oz. (57 grams) of seed to cover 1000 square feet (93 sq. m.) of lawn. Before planting, mix your seeds with one of the following:
- Soil (preferably unfertilized, to discourage the growth of weeds)
Spread the seed.Use your hand to spread the seed evenly over the lawn. If you have a large lawn, you can use a broadcast spreader, which you can buy at local garden stores and home improvement stores.You can also spread seed over large areas by smoothing the seed and sand mixture over the ground with a leaf rake turned so that the tines face up.
Rake the area.Clover seeds will not grow if they are buried in the ground, but covering them with a thin layer of soil will help to keep them in place and prevent wind or predators from disturbing them. Go over the area you’ve seeded with a rake that is turned so that the tines face up, and gently mix the seeds into the top layer of soil.
- Do not rake more than a quarter-inch (6 mm) deep, otherwise the seeds won’t grow.
Keep the seeds moist until the clover is established.Water the seeds immediately after spreading them. This process will help the seeds stick in the ground and encourage germination. Provide the seeds with a light misting of water every day that it doesn’t rain until the seedlings grow leaves.
- During the spring, summer, and warmer fall months, make sure the clover gets about 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm) of water per week.
- When planted during the warmer spring or summer months, clover seeds will germinate in one to two weeks.
- Make sure that the seeds do not have a chance to dry out during the day, or the sprouts will not survive.
Skip the fertilizer.Clover can produce nitrogen all on its own, as long as it forms the proper relationship with the soil (which you encourage by adding a clover inoculant when planting). Adding in fertilizer will usually encourage grasses and weeds to grow instead of the clover.
- Use a testing kit to check whether your soil is missing any important nutrients before you plant, and adjust accordingly.
Test your soil occasionally after your lawn is planted.Once your clover lawn is established, take soil samples at least every 2-3 years. Check your soil nutrient and mineral levels, and make adjustments as needed.
- Try taking samples in spring one year, and in fall the next year. This will help give you an idea of which nutrients are most needed during different parts of the growing cycle.
Picking the Right Time and Place to Plant
Buy clover seed.You can purchase clover seeds at garden stores, at most home and hardware stores, and online. You'll need roughly 2 ounces (57 g) of clover seeds per 1,000 square feet (93 square meters) of lawn.
- The most popular types of clovers for lawns are Dutch White (a perennial that grows to 8 inches, or 20 centimeters) and Microclover (a durable clover that has small leaves and short stems).
- Inoculated clover seeds of any variety are also popular, because it means you don’t have to inoculate them yourself. Inoculation is the process of coating the seeds with a nitrogen-fixing bacterium that allows the clover to produce its own nitrogen. Be sure to store these seeds in a cool, dark place.
Plant according to the season and weather.The best time to plant clover is in spring or summer. To plant in spring, make sure the last frost has occurred, and that nighttime temperatures are staying above 40° F (4° C). The best time to seed clover is between mid-March and mid-August.
- In warmer areas, you can plant clover in September and October, but plant it at least six weeks before the first frost.
- In the warmest areas where winters are mild and there's rarely snow or freezing temperatures in winter, you can plant clover all year round.
Choose a sunny location.Depending on the size of your lawn, you may have conditions that vary greatly from one area to another, so some areas may not be ideal for clover. Clover is very hardy and will even grow in partial shade, but it will do best when it gets between four and six hours of sunlight per day.
- Where possible, prune and trim trees, hedges, and brush to ensure the clover gets enough light.
QuestionI live in a city, but in a rural part of it. Can I let the clover stay wild without having a garden that looks unsightly for my neighbors?
Professional LandscaperProfessional LandscaperExpert AnswerIt only grows 4 to about 8 inches high at most so it will look like a natural groundcover if left natural looking.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I get rid of a clover lawn?
Professional LandscaperProfessional LandscaperExpert AnswerYou can attempt natural killing of it by covering with black plastic, cardboard etc. to block sun light, use a chemical vegetation killer and then by either method till up the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches, rake out and remove debris and re-plant.Thanks!
QuestionCan I mow a clover lawn?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can mow it just like a regular lawn. If you mow it too early, however, you may not see the flowers.Thanks!
QuestionWill the clover spread to my neighbor's lawn?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes! Clover will spread to any areas that it comes in contact with. The roots grow deep.Thanks!
QuestionI overseeded big time. How big of a problem do I have?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo worries, just give it some time and plenty of water. Let nature do the rest. Only half will sprout because of overcrowding, but you don't need to do anything about it.Thanks!
QuestionShould I use fertilizer?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Clover likes poor soil. Do not feed the weeds and grass if trying for a clover lawn.Thanks!
QuestionHow often should I water a clover lawn?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should water it daily for the first 7 to 10 days after seeding. After that, watering is typically unnecessary. Clover is very hearty and drought tolerant.Thanks!
QuestionCan clover be planted like grass, by spreading the seed directly onto the ground and then lightly covering it with 1/4" of soil?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat is the best way to do it. Just make sure to keep the soil moist for the first week.Thanks!
QuestionI do not want bees at all! What clover seed do I buy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBees love all kinds of clover. The biggest reason to plant clover is for the bees. If you really don't want any bees, just keep your clover mowed so it won't flower.Thanks!
QuestionHow much water does the clover need?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTwice daily water is needed for the first week/week and a half. Enough water to keep the ground damp/moist but not soaked. For the rest of the month, decrease the watering to once a day, then every other day, then every third day, then once a week at most. Choose drought tolerant so it doesn't need much water.Thanks!
How much sand do I need per ounce of seed?
How do I know if I can plant clover in my region?
What can I use to kill weeds in my clover lawn?
Do you have any advice on mixing dichondra and clover?
Will it creep into my neighbor's lawn? IF so, how can I prevent it from spreading into their yards?
- To encourage a patch of clover already growing in your yard, mow your lawn to 1.5 to 2 inches (3.8-5 cm). This height is more favorable to clover than to grasses.
- Aerating occasionally in early spring can be very beneficial to a clover lawn.
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of How to Grow a Clover Lawn was reviewed by on September 29, 2019.
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