You can do everything correctly while pursuing a beautiful lawn, only to have it ruined by weeds. White clover (Trifolium repens) is among the most troublesome perennial weeds homeowners face. To combat this pest, you need to know how to kill clover in lawn but not grass, and then you can be on your way to get rid of clover without affecting your lawn. Before rushing out to kill clover in grass, you must understand that it benefits your lawn besides its nice white flowers.
Clover grows quickly and is invasive, yet is a useful weed for all lawns. Nitrogen permeates into the soil when clover decays, which is beneficial to your grass’s growth. Clover acts like an umbrella, so when you want to keep your lawn short at an ideal 2.5 inches long, the clover shades the ground and keeps other weed seeds at bay.
Despite the benefits, many individuals want to eliminate clover in lawn. By the end of our guide, you can learn what kills clover but not grass and how to stop clover growing more than you want. (Read Weeds That Look Like Clover)
Why Is There So Much Clover In My Lawn?
There are multiple reasons you could have clover in your lawn, most of which have to do with your soil condition and soil fertility.
- Wrong Soil pH: The alkaline or acidic soil of the soil is measured by its pH. This is usually between 6.0 and 7.0 for most lawns. If your lawn’s soil is overly acidic, grass will struggle to grow, while clover and other broadleaf weeds will thrive. Luckily, soil amendments such as lime can help to level the pH and prevent clover growth.
- Poor Nitrogen Levels: Clover is a perennial weed that thrives in low-nitrogen soils. Grass needs nitrogen from the soil to thrive, whereas clover can get its nitrogen from the air and thus its own fertilizer. You may have used too much fast-acting fertilizer, resulting in a nitrogen deficiency in your soil. While they promote quick grass growth, they might ultimately degrade the quality of your soil. You can avoid this by using organic fertilizers like manure or cornmeal.
- Compacted soil prevents your lawn from accessing the nutrients, air, and water it needs. With a core or spike aerator, you can naturally break up compaction in your lawn and help stop clover in your lawn.
Is Clover Bad for Your Lawn?
You may want to control clover, but it can benefit your lawn. Natural Fertilizer: Clover can absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere thanks to its symbiotic relationship with beneficial bacteria. In the end, it will make your lawn greener and lusher. This will keep it growing and out-competing with your grass.
Weed Prevention: Weeds, especially clover, will not thrive if your lawn is mowed high. Allowing clover to grow is a solid alternative if you prefer short, compact grass under 3 inches. Clover’s leaves shade the soil, making it difficult for other weeds to take root and thrive, causing your grass to compete. (Find the Best Riding Lawn Mower)
White clover (Trifolium repens), often known as Dutch or white clover, is one of the most popular lawn alternatives. People started using broadleaf herbicides for killing clover and other lawn weeds in the 1950s. Clover lawns have seen a resurgence in recent years because of their many advantages and charms. Pure clover lawns are best for low-to-moderate traffic areas, whereas other grass seed mixes and clover lawns are best for playing fields and other high-traffic areas.
Advantages of Clover
- Clover plants have many advantages over traditional bluegrass or Bermuda grass lawns.
- An entire clover lawn can remain green throughout summer with little or no watering. It is drought tolerant and will be green from early spring until the first frost.
- Clover doesn’t need much mowing and only grows 2–8 inches tall.
- Clover attracts helpful insects, such as bees, that help pollinate your garden. Aphids, scales, and whiteflies are all attracted to it, as are parasitoid wasps.
- Clover doesn’t need fertilizer. Clover is a nitrogen-fixing legume, which means it produces its own fertilizer and helping to fertilize neighboring plants. Grass mixed with clover is healthier, greener, and needs less maintenance.
- A selective herbicide is not required, and in fact, most herbicides are effective against it.
- Clover seed is low cost compared to many other grass seeds.
Disadvantages of Clover
- Like anything with good sides, there are disadvantages, and why gardeners want to control clover.
- Clover in your lawn stains clothing easier than grass.
- It’s not durable for playing or high-traffic areas unless mixed with grass.
- Clover is a short-lived perennial and could require reseeding every 2–3 years compared to other lawn grasses.
How to Get Rid of Clover Naturally
If you want to naturally remove clover from your lawn, you can find these tips to help. Proper Lawn Care: You can combat clover with the right mowing and watering habits, as well as a variety of smart tricks.
A well-fertilized lawn will keep all weeds at bay, but maintaining correct nitrogen levels will give you an added advantage against clover. Clover thrives because it can create its own nitrogen, giving it an advantage over a lawn that is poor in nitrogen.
Use a weed-and-feed formula that is a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to target clover. If you have a negligible amount of clover, organic fertilizers might work, but if your lawn is becoming overgrown, use a standard fertilizer that is not slow release.
Manually Remove Clover and Other Weeds
Allowing clover to spread is a bad idea. Thus, clover control is required as soon as possible by gently disturbing the soil at the root with a spade or your fingers, then plucking the clover up. Make that you have all the roots as you would with other weeds. (Read How Long Does Milorganite Take To Work On A Lawn)
Reduce Oxygen and Sunlight
Depriving clover of sunlight and oxygen is a natural way to get rid of existing clover on your lawn. Cover the clover with plastic sheeting like a garbage bag, and secure the corners. It can kill clover in your lawn within a few weeks. It will, however, kill your surrounding grass at the same time as you eliminate clover.
Use a Homemade Mixture
For homemade natural weed control, you can use vinegar with a small amount of dish soap, put the mixture in a spray bottle, spot treat clover clumps and use it as an organic weed killer. The dish soap helps the vinegar stick to the clover.
Use Corn Gluten Meal
Corn gluten meal is available for lawn care. It can prevent clover and other desirable grasses as it releases organic dipeptides into the soil, thus causing clover seeds to dry out.
Spread around 20 pounds of corn gluten meal per 1,000 square feet of lawn, water thoroughly, and let dry.
Broadleaf herbicides can eliminate clover as a very effective weed control product. While such herbicides don’t harm surrounding grass, they can harm some surrounding plants and insects, so it’s best to spot treat clover instead of spraying it all over.
Some people prefer the sight and feel of short turf, leaving your grass high to help keep clover at bay. Clover has a shallow root system, and micro clover grows low to the ground.
As a result, if you lift your mower deck and keep your lawn high to about 3 inches or taller, it will effectively block sunlight from reaching the micro clover. Clover will not grow, and your lawn will be clover free if you do this.
One key to keeping control of your clover problem is to keep the right amount of moisture in the soil. Weed seed germination thrives in wet turf, but thirsty grass is typically stressed, which welcomes weeds.
The amount of watering required depends on your soil and grass species, yet water your lawn regularly and deeply once or twice a week as a general rule.
Kill Clover in Lawn Naturally
If you want to let your grass grow without the white flowers of clover and avoid using chemical herbicides, you can look for the organic weed killer A.D.I.O.S. It is a non-toxic, odorless, selective weed killer and can be used around pets, children, and nearby plants.
It weakens and kills clover and won’t harm your grass. Spray it directly onto plants to prevent weeds from the pea family and clover taking over. (Find the Best Weed And Feed For Southern Lawns)
Seed Bare Patches
After you’ve successfully eradicated clover patches from your lawn, there may be bare areas that are much less appealing than the weeds. The solution is to right plant grass seed and cover it with a thin layer of mulch. Water the grass seed regularly to encourage fresh growth, then fertilize and maintain your lawn properly to prevent clover from returning.