In the early 1940s, clovers were considered one of the most helpful standard ingredients when it comes to grass seed mixes. But through the years, and with the introduction of petrochemical-based weed killers, clovers have been dubbed as another classic “weed” that homeowners remove from their garden.
Although many people perceive clovers as bad and “invaders” on their beautiful gardens, clovers are well-known to gardeners for the many benefits they can contribute to the soil, grass, and diversity in your lawn. So, the question, “Are they bad for your garden?” the answer is no.
In this article, we will tackle the reasons why you see lots of clovers in your garden, the benefits of having clovers in your garden, the reasons why you shouldn’t kill them, how to plant clovers in your yard, and ways to control their presence in your garden.
Are Clovers Bad for Your Garden?
Having clovers in your garden is not bad since it can provide multiple benefits to your lawn and requires little to no supervision. In the sections below, we will discuss the many benefits of having clovers in your garden. With these reasons, we are quite sure that you’ll doublethink about killing all the clovers you’ll find.
In recent years, clovers have been revived because of their many charms and benefits. The ones you’ll mostly find in lawns are mixed grass-clover lawns that are best with high traffic areas and playing fields, and pure clover lawns that are best with low or moderate traffic areas.
Should I Kill the Clovers in My Lawn?
Clovers provide many benefits to your garden, which we will discuss later. Thus, the decision as to whether to kill them or not depends on your intended reason and your image of your garden, since they are not uncommon and “bad” for your lawn.
If you want your yard to look more pleasing and clean, you can opt to remove them. But if you’re not picky about your plants, then having clovers around could be good as they will not damage nor harm your garden at all.
A brown or yellowish lawn is definitely not a sight to see, some may even consider it dead. The good thing is, there are a lot of things that you can do to revive your lawn and make the grass green again. If you want to have your lush and green lawn back, here are our tips to bring dead grass back to life.
5 Reasons Why You See Lots of Clovers in Your Garden
With all the weeds that suddenly sprout in a garden, it’s natural that you get surprised to see lots of clovers in your area. Here are 5 reasons why you see lots of them in your yard.
1. The soil is deficient in nitrogen and other important nutrients
Clovers grow when the soil is nitrogen-deficient, which means that if you want to lessen the amount of clovers you see in your garden, you should spread organic spring lawn fertilizer to inject more nitrogen into your plants.
2. The soil pH is too high or too low for your lawn grass
Clovers can survive in almost all levels of pH, so whether or not your turfgrass is having a hard time growing in your yard. Thus, even if you have a xeriscape garden, expect to still see some clovers in it.
3. The grass doesn’t get enough water
If your soil is not dense enough, you’ll have stressed grass, which can leave some space for weeds and clovers to grow. To ensure that your soil is dense, try to deeply and slowly water your plants at least once or twice a week.
4. The grass has been cut too short
Crowded and tall grass has deeper and wider roots, which provide fewer chances for clovers to grow around them. To have deep-rooted plants, cut your grass at 3 1/2 inches or higher, and nothing less than that.
5. The soil is too compacted
Clovers are mostly seen in heavy and compacted soils because of their ability to absorb water at deep levels thanks to their long roots. Most turfgrass can’t survive in compact soils, so if you want to reduce the number of clovers in your yard, loosen your soil by doing core aeration.
10 Benefits of Having Clovers in Your Garden
As mentioned earlier, clovers can provide many benefits to your garden. From keeping your grass green to smelling good, as well as providing diversity, or killing other weeds, here are 10 benefits to having clover near your plants.
1. Stay green
Drought seasons can be troublesome to many homeowners. Because of the humid air and dry soil, many turfgrasses can turn brown if not properly cared for. However, clovers can stay green thanks to their deep roots and can help your plants have bright colors.
2. Act as a natural fertilizer
If you want a lush and vibrant lawn, it’s important to fertilize your garden every now and then. Clovers are considered a natural fertilizer because they can heal nitrogen-deficient soil into healthy soil. This plant type can take the nitrogen from the air and release it into the soil, making your grass healthy and green.
Additionally, clovers can produce fibrous and taproots, which can help improve the soil’s friability. It also protects your garden from water and wind erosion, which is beneficial when you’re in tropical climates with strong wind and rain occurrences.
3. Smell good
Clovers have a light and fresh smell that nearly everybody loves. If you think that chemical fertilizers smell bad, then maybe it’s time to keep those clovers around your garden. Over time, you’ll surely notice the great smell of clovers when you’re hanging out in your yard.
4. Bring diversity
Many ecologists see gardens as an ill-suited habitat since most of the plants don’t attract the necessary insects to help the environment. Clovers, however, can attract bees and other essential insects that help our ecosystem.
Some of the insects that are attracted to clover are parasitoid wasps, which prey on harmful bugs in a garden. Thanks to the diversity of clovers, you don’t only get rid of bugs naturally, but you also keep your flowers, fruit trees, and vegetables healthy.
5. Kill other weeds
Thanks to their large roots, clovers can kill pesky weeds. By having lots of clover in your garden, you don’t need to handpick or mow hard-to-kill weeds as the clovers can smother them before they sprout on your lawn.
6. Retain moisture
One of the best assets of clovers is their ability to absorb sun heat before it hits the soil. Still thanks to its long and large roots, clovers can retain better moisture than mulches do.
7. Edible and medicinal
White and red clovers are filled with vitamins and minerals that can support and provide nutrients for the liver, heart, and other vital organs. When mixed with other tropical ingredients, it can provide anti-inflammatory and pain relief as well. Additionally, thanks to clovers’ high anti-oxidants, they can be mixed into flavored tea and perform as a cleansing ingredient.
8. Immune to “dog patches”
For some reason, clovers are immune to the discoloration the typical plants can get from dogs’ urine. Thus, with clovers in your garden, you can rest assured that your lawn will stay green and lush, even if you have multiple dogs around.
9. Soft on bare feet
Compared to other grass, clovers feel soft, cool, and lush when walking barefoot on them. Thanks to their pleasant smell, you’d want to sit and have a picnic on them every time the sun comes up.
10. Cheaper than grass
Another good thing about clovers is that they’re way cheaper than the typical grass we see in most lawns. If you want a beautiful and lush green garden that’s not heavy on the wallet, then clovers can best benefit you.
3 Steps to Plant Clovers in Your Garden
Now that you know the many benefits of having clovers in your garden, you might wonder how to plant those in your yard in the first place. In this section, we’ll discuss the three easy steps to follow to plant clovers in your garden.
Step 1 – Get your soil ready
Like any other plant, it’s important to get your soil ready before planting clovers. There are five easy ways to do this:
1. Step 1 – Determine your soil’s pH level
Different types of clovers work best depending on the pH level of the soil. Thus, before planting any clovers in your garden, it’s important to determine the pH level of your garden. To do so, purchase a soil testing kit and use it on your soil.
If the pH level is too low, adjust it by spreading lime on your soil. If it’s too high, put some sawdust or peat moss to bring down the level. Remember that it takes up to 6 months for the pH level to adjust, so test your soil as early as you can.
Some clovers thrive between 6.0 and 7.0 pH level, while others can survive with a pH level as high as 8.5, so make sure to check the required pH level of the clover that you chose.
2. Eliminate any weed
The next thing you’d want to do is remove any unwanted plants or weeds in your area. To do so, you can either use chemical broadleaf or systematic herbicide treatments. Using these may damage your garden if you immediately put some plants on it. To be sure, make sure that you allocate at least two weeks before planting on your soil again.
Another thing worth noting is that it’s important to always read the instructions of the treatment you’re going to use. Some products can harm other plants, bees, insects, and more, which means that you have to be careful about what product to use.
3. Till the soil
You must till the soil to ensure that whatever you plant on it thrives. Tilling or raking the soil at about 8 inches deep can remove rocks, vegetation, and other debris from your garden. Some gardeners choose to till their area a month before planting so that weeds can regrow and you can remove them through their roots. Also, tilling makes it easier to adjust the pH level of your soil.
4. Water your garden daily
To remove any unwanted plants and weeds from your garden, lightly misting your garden every day can encourage dormant weeds to grow, then you can remove them before you plant your clover. Although, if there’s enough rain in your area, there’s obviously no need to water your garden.
5. Remove weeds
Since you’re watering your garden daily and are encouraging weeds to show themselves, it’s important to remove them before you plant your clovers. You can use a scythe, a small shovel, or a spade to cut them to ensure that all weeds and their roots are taken out properly.
Step 2 – Picking the right place and time to plant
Before planting, it’s important to choose what type of seed you want to plant and the best time and place to do so. Below are some key elements to keep in mind.
1. Purchase the clover seed
You’ll find lots of clover seeds online, at garden stores, and in hardware stores. 1,000 square feet of the area would only need at least 2 ounces of clover seeds to cover it beautifully. The two most popular types of clovers are micro clovers and Dutch White.
Dutch White clovers are known for their long perennial stems that can go up to 8 inches. Meanwhile, micro clovers have short stems, small leaves, and are durable enough to withstand mowing and any climate.
Also, some inoculated clover seeds are becoming popular. These seeds are covered with a nitrogen-fixing bacterium that covers these nitrogen-fixers with more nitrogen.
2. Consider the weather and seasons when planting
Most clovers thrive in hot areas because of their drought-resistance abilities. The best time to plant these seeds is during the summer or spring, or mid-March and mid-August. If you plan to grow some clovers during the spring, you must let the last frost occur before doing so and ensure the temperature stays above 40°F at night.
If you’re in a warm area, the best time to plant clovers is between September and October, or at least 6 months before the first frosts start. However, if you live in a warm area where there is little to no winter, you can choose to plant your clovers at any time of the year.
3. Choose a sunny area
Like mentioned earlier, clovers can even grow during a drought, which means they can withstand lots of sunlight, about 4 to 6 hours per day. This signifies that you should put your clover seeds where trees, fences, or bushes won’t cover them during the day.
Step 3 – Planting clover seed
Now that you’ve done the two most important steps, it’s time to plant your chosen clover seeds. Since there are multiple types of clovers, it’s essential to pick the kind that will best suit your soil and the overall look of your garden.
1. Mix your clover seeds with sand
Clover seeds are lightweight and very small, thus, when planting them, it’s ideal to mix them with another ingredient so that they can be spread out properly. You can choose to use sawdust, sand, and unfertilized soil to ensure that no weeds are growing at the same time.
2. Spread the mixed seeds
The next thing you want to do is spread your mixed seeds all over your lawn. If you have a small to medium-sized lawn, you can choose to spread them by hand. But if you have a large yard, you can use items like a broadcast spreader or a leaf rake that’s turned face up.
3. Rake the area
Rake the part of your yard where you wish to plant the clovers to avoid your planted seeds from being taken by predators or being blown away. Of course, you also don’t want to rake anything deeper than 6 mm as you’ll end up with no clover plants at all. To do this properly, gently rake over your seeded area to mix the seeds with a thin layer of soil.
4. Keep your garden moist
After planting the seeds and raking the area, immediately water your garden to provide the clovers with the needed moisture and encourage germination. This will also allow hallow seeds to stick to the ground.
Then, provide light misting every day if it’s not raining in your area. During warm seasons, ensure that the clovers get at least 1.5 to 2 inches of water every week. If you plant them in the summer, you’ll see them germinate about one to two weeks after planting them.
If it’s too hot in your area, make sure your seeds are not left dry to ensure that the sprouts do not die.
5. Do not mow during the summer
If you want your clovers to bloom and flower, do not mow during the summer so that they can grow to their full capacity.
6. Do not fertilize
Since clovers can produce nitrogen if they have proper soil composition, you won’t be needing any fertilizer. Also, using fertilizer in your moist garden will only lead to the growth of unnecessary weeds and grass.
To ensure that your clover has the right relationship with your soil, use a testing kit to know the missing nutrients of your soil.
7. Occasionally test your soil.
Clovers are low-maintenance plants that can thrive on their own once they’re fully grown. To ensure that your soil has the right nutrients, you should test your soil at least once a year so that you can provide the necessary adjustments.
When you test it during the fall, in the first year, it is ideal to test it again in the following spring.
If you want your lawn to be green and beautiful, you need to maintain it properly. Aside from regular watering and mowing, there are other steps that you can do to keep your lawn healthy, such as overseeding. If this is your first time hearing about this process, read our article to know what overseeding is and why you should do it.
3 Disadvantages of Having Clovers in Your Garden
Although clovers provide multiple benefits, they are still bound to having some disadvantages. Here are some of them that are worth taking note of.
- It’s a short-lived perennial. This means that you may need to reseed your entire lawn after 2-3 years if you want to maintain beautiful and lush clovers.
- They stain clothes faster than grass. Compared to turfgrass, clover can easily stain clothes, so be careful if you’re planning to lay down on them.
- They are not durable enough for high-traffic areas. Clovers alone cannot survive in high-traffic areas, so it’s important to mix them with other types of grass if you want them to thrive.
5 Ways to Control the Clovers in Your Garden
Despite all the benefits we’ve previously mentioned, it’s still important to ensure that your clovers don’t overcrowd and overtake your entire garden. In this section, we’ll discuss the ways to control their spreading in your garden.
1. Deprive them with sunlight and oxygen
One of the easiest ways to kill clovers in an area where you don’t want them to be is by taking either a garbage bag or plastic sheeting and covering the clovers with it. By doing so, you deprive the clovers of their needed sunlight and oxygen. Take a couple of rocks and place them on the corner and sides of the plastic bag to ensure that it won’t fly off.
After a few weeks, open up the plastic and you’ll notice that the clovers inside will be dead. Although, it’s important to note that doing this method will also kill the plants and grass alongside them.
2. Pull them out by hand
The most traditional, although not always the easiest method, is to pull the clovers by hand. This is most effective when you’re dealing with small patches of clovers in your garden. By using a tug and shovel, you can pull out the clover with your hand. Although, you should remember to pull the clover up until their roots to ensure that they don’t grow back.
3. Apply organic herbicide
A.D.I.O.S. is an organic herbicide that can kill different types of clovers and keep your surrounding grass unharmed. To use it, simply spray the herbicide on the selected area of clovers, and in a couple of hours, the weed will weaken and die.
4. Spray a vinegar solution
Vinegar is known for its ability to kill clovers. By using this ingredient, you can make a natural home remedy clover killer. Simply mix one cup of vinegar with a drop of soap and a cup of water. Spray the mixed solution to the clovers and wait until it dries out.
Make sure to continuously spray the solution on the clover for a couple of weeks to ensure that the weeds get killed. Like other harmful pesticides, this home remedy can kill other grass and plants, so spray it carefully.
5. Use corn meal gluten
Cornmeal gluten tends to release organic peptides into the soil that can prevent clovers to grow. If you’re worried about any clovers that might pop up in your garden, you can use this method as prevention. Although, this doesn’t work with existing clovers and can harden your lawn if you’ve recently reseeded.
Grass vs. Clovers: Which is Better?
In all honesty, having both grass and clovers in your yard will strengthen your soil and further beautify your lawn. Grass can benefit from clovers since the latter provide the necessary nitrogen for your grass to prosper. Besides, clovers can benefit from grass as well since grass can cover and protect them in high-traffic areas.
Clovers are not bad for any garden as long as you control their spread and growth. Even though they are considered as weeds by most homeowners, the benefits that clovers provide to your lawn and garden are clear indicators that they are not on the same level as weeds.
If you want your grass and other plants to grow beautifully and your soil to become healthy, then adding a few clover seeds to your lawn will do the trick. In addition to this, their rich color will improve the overall look of your lawn and their fragrant smell is also an added bonus.
Clovers are an excellent addition to your lawn and garden because in addition to improving your soil and the aesthetics of your lawn, they are also very easy to grow and maintain. After reading this article, we hope that you will view clovers in a better light and welcome them as the newest addition to your garden and lawn.