Perennial weeds are typical trouble for homeowners but one of the worst cases by far is when they find white clover (aka Trifolium repens) on their lawn. They grow in soils with low nitrogen and a sufficient amount of sunlight. You can do everything right in creating your beautiful lawn only to have these stubborn, nasty weeds mess it up. Some homeowners like them, while others cannot stand the white flowers interrupting their green field, and we know you belong to this category.
You probably want to get rid of weeds in your garden. But there are more reasons not to like clovers. Firstly, they are unwanted plants that grow on your lawn and mess up its natural lush green beauty. Secondly, clovers can attract bees and rabbit pests that love to snack on them. So if you desire to keep these three-leaved herbaceous intruders off your landscape for good, you are in luck. Read on to discover how to do it.
What makes clovers appear in your lawn?
Clovers can sprout in your lawn for several reasons, which is usually down to the state of your soil.
Wrong Soil pH
The soil pH describes the alkalinity or acidity of the soil and for lawns, it should typically be between 6.0 and 7.0. If the soil in your lawn is too acidic, it will make it easy for clovers to grow and harder for grass. Thankfully, soil amendments like lime can be used to balance out the pH. Clovers will typically grow in soil that isn’t well kept or undernourished.
Low Nitrogen Levels
Clover does best in soil with poor nitrogen levels. Grass requires nitrogen in the soil to grow well, while clover can fix the nitrogen it needs from the air and effectively make its own fertiliser. This ability is facilitated by root inhabiting nitrogen converting bacteria. Some of the reasons for the low level of nitrogen in your soil may be due to poor soil quality, excessive irrigation, low temperature, or excessive use of fast-acting agents. While this one can accelerate grass growth, it can ultimately lower the quality of your soil. You can avoid this by applying organic ones such as manure or cornmeal instead.
Compacted soil makes it hard for your grass to get the nutrients it needs like nitrogen, air, and water. Clover can tolerate compacted soil because of its long roots that allow it to access water at levels grass cannot reach. Luckily, you can use a core or spike aerator to break up compaction.
How to get rid of clover step-by-step
Properly caring for your lawn, includes several habits like regular mowing, watering properly, and more tricks that keep clovers away. Listed below are 10 simple steps to get clover off your lawn.
1. Mowing Over It
When you are starting with getting rid of clover, the easiest method is to simply mow over it. A good reason why this option is great is that it can be used long-term since it allows you to implement clover as a natural fertiliser for your lawn grass. So if you don’t like the plant but still want to put it to good use, this is the option to go for. Because clover grows back easily, you need to use your lawn mower as regularly as possible, at least twice weekly.
If you are trying to take the flowers off the clover, then chances are, your mower blade may have been set too low to reach those flowers. This can cause more clover, which is why you need to mow higher so that when your grass grows, it blocks the sun from reaching the clover, which slows its growth or even kills it completely.
2. Pull It Out By Hand
Now to say goodbye to clover for good, a great place to start is by pulling it out by hand. If you are lucky enough to catch it early, then you eliminate your problem as soon as possible as clovers can grow and spread rapidly. While this is simple, many people don’t notice the clover until it has almost swallowed the lawn.
If you decide to pull out clover by hand, ensure you pull out all of it because there’s a likelihood that any existing clover left behind can grow back quickly, which will make all your work be for nothing. Also, in pulling clover plants from the lawn, make sure you loosen up the soil first and grab it from a point close to the ground as much as possible. This ensures you can get the roots from the clover and not just the leaves or flowers.
If you’d like to put the clover you’ve pulled up to use, you make compost out of it which can then be used as a boosting material. It may be hard work doing weed control through pulling by hand, so if this is not something you’d want to do, then the next method is something else you can try.
3. Fertilise Your Lawn
If you haven’t fertilised your lawn in a while, clover might be the first sign that it’s time to do so. Fertilisers contain nitrogen which makes the soil an uncomfortable place for clovers because it already produces its own. Ensure you fertilise your lawn for at least 4-6 weeks. It is an effective weed killer that will stop almost all of the clover and other weeds in your lawn.
However, if you live near water, it might not be a great idea to use them. The reason is that chemicals can harm wildlife and you could end up poisoning fish or other creatures. It also encourages algae growth at a high rate, which also has the potential of hurting fish and other animals.
You should fertilize your lawn early on, usually at the beginning of spring and once again in summer and fall. This is probably the easiest way to get rid of clovers, that’s why it is a great step to start with if you really want to get it out quickly.
4. Use Broadleaf Herbicides Kill Clover
Broadleaf herbicides are made with chemicals such as Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, Mecoprop, and Dicamba that are very effective at broadleaf weed control. These chemicals interrupt their growth patterns, causing the stems to crack.
However, even if they cannot harm your lawn, they may damage some garden plants as well as insects, so should be used with caution. Don’t apply freely to your landscape if you are using the broad-leaf herbicide for spot treatment.
When using a broadleaf herbicide, it is important to water properly a day before application, as this lowers the chance of killing your grass along with the clover.
5. Kill Clover Naturally
If going the chemical herbicide route seems to be too stressful for you, then can you use an organic weed killer called A.D.I.O.S. (Advanced Development in Organic Solutions). This weed killer is an all-natural, odourless, and non-toxic material that is safe to use.
It weakens and kills only clover and micro clover, without harming healthy grass. You can also spray it all over other lawn weeds like dandelion, yellow mustard, ground ivy, ragweed, buckthorn, bittersweet and other invasive species.
6. Make Your Own Spray
If you have fertilised your lawn but still have clover somehow making its way out, then you can go directly at it by spraying it. As you might already know, it is unsafe to use sprays that contain harmful chemicals as they are bad on anything that they touch. There are safer alternatives that don’t have those harmful chemicals available in stores today.
However, there is a much simpler, cheaper option. All you need is a few ingredients that are probably lying around somewhere in your home. If you want to try out this DIY project making your own spray, here is what you need:
- 1/2 Gallon of white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons of liquid dish soap
- 1/4 Cup of salt
This is a simple mixture that can get the job done. In addition, you spend less compared to buying at the store. Simply spray areas with clover, dandelions, and other weeds, especially around the perimeter just to ensure you reach everything.
The vinegar will dry out the weed leaves and dish soap will ensure it sticks. However, keep in mind that you may have to spray daily for some weeks before you see the results. Also, you have to spray carefully as this solution can damage the surrounding grass.
7. Block The Sunlight
Clover is just like any other plant, it needs water, CO2, and sunlight for photosynthesis. A natural way to get rid of clover on your lawn is to deprive it of these essential things.
While it is not possible to completely get rid of CO2 or water, one thing you can do is obstruct the process by blocking them from receiving any sunlight. However, keep in mind that this can also kill any grass underneath so this is not something you should do for large patches of clover.
One way to block the sunlight is to cover up your lawn, and a great way to go about it is by using a black garbage bag or a plastic sheet to cover the clover spots. You can keep the bag in place so it doesn’t blow off by hammering in some small yard steaks. This usually takes about a week or so to start happening.
8. Burn With Ammonia
If you choose to go with this method, you should ensure you are doing it properly so that your ammonia is not wasted. Ammonia is best applied after a rainy day. However, if you don’t want to sit waiting for the rain, then you can water your grass and apply ammonia the next day. Avoid using household ammonia, purchase ammonium sulphate instead, as it is made specifically for lawns. Apply according to instructions and do this once a month.
9. Kill Clover with Corn Gluten
Corn gluten meal is formulated in a way that helps to inhibit the growth of clover without causing any damage to nearby plants. It can be purchased online or at your local garden store. Corn gluten works by releasing organic dipeptides into the soil, which causes clover seeds to dry out, making it difficult for them to sprout. To apply, spread it around the lawn, water appropriately, and leave it to dry naturally.
10. Reduce Soil Disturbance
There are thousands of tiny seeds in the clover flower that eventually spread on the lawn. The clover seeds on the topsoil of your lawn are more likely to grow as they access more water and sunlight. When you disturb the soil through digging or tilling, this brings the clover seeds that lay underground on the upper surface, thus increasing the probability of developing into a full-grown plant.
When doing lawn care, it may be necessary to till for some specific plants, however, avoid tilling until it is necessary. You can avoid digging out by using a sharp gardening tool to sever clover from its root instead.
Are there any reasons to keep the clover on my lawn?
While clover on your lawn is not something you want, it may offer some benefits:
Clover has a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen converting bacteria that lets it absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere, and doesn’t need to use the nutrient from the ground. Eventually, this boosts the lawn and makes it lusher. Also, by making a mixture of clover for additional fertilisation of your lawn, you will help your grass grow greener without any need for chemicals.
When you cut your lawn high, this helps to slow or eliminate the growth of weeds, including clover, however, letting clover flourish can be a great way to keep the grass short. Clover leaves cast a shade over the soil, which makes it hard for other weeds to take root, grow and overpower your grass.
Another good reason to keep clover is because of the lovely bright-coloured flowers they produce, which can add to the beauty of your entire lawn. They tend to stay green through periods of drought, because of their ability to thrive in any weather, and finally, they also give off a lovely aroma.
The last thing you want to find on your lawn is clover. They compete for soil, sunlight, and water with the grass, create unsightly patches, and attract bees and other insects. Armed with the 10 solid steps mentioned in this article, you can get to work to easily destroy this weed, and get your green healthy lawn area back.