Clover: Friend or Foe?

There is some debate among those in the lawn care community as to whether clover is a weed, and should therefore be dealt with like a weed, or whether it is in fact beneficial to the overall health of the lawn.

The simple answer is yes, generally speaking clover is a weed, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t have potential benefits either.

Like most weeds clover becomes a nuisance when it takes over an area of grass and starves the life out of it. Once well-established it can be difficult to remove, and your options at this point are either to accept it, or dig up affected areas of turf and replace with fresh healthy grass.

If the problem is less severe you might have some success with a 2,4-D based weed killer before it really takes hold in late spring and early summer. Be careful to avoid damaging other plants as you apply this or you could end up in an even more frustrating situation than you started.

Benefits of clover

If you’re less fussy about the overall appearance of you lawn, and the odd clover here and there isn’t something you’re worried about then it will bring some benefits to the overall health of your lawn, chiefly:

  • It maintains a healthy level of nitrogen in the soil
  • It attracts nematodes, that keep the lawn free of parasitic grubs

More interestingly if you were to be completely relaxed about the presence of clover on your lawn, to the point at which you entire lawn was composed of the stuff, then you would find it has many great benefits that no grass species can possibly compete with, this includes:

  • It is drought resilient and will stay green far longer than any grass starved of water
  • It naturally aerates the soil
  • It doesn’t need to be treated with either fertiliser or weed killer
  • It doesn’t require frequent mowing!

Now whilst most people are unlikely to choose a lawn made of clover this does demonstrate both the strength of the plant, and why grass can struggle to compete with it. None the less, it would be interesting to see good quality examples of clover based lawns just to see if the idea has any potential to catch on! If anyone knows of any examples, we’d love to see them!

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