How to Kill Clover Without Chemicals
by Alec McClennan, on June 1, 2013
Does your lawn look like the lawn pictured below? Are you seeing a lot of white flowers in your lawn and don't like the look of them? Maybe you're concerned about the clover attracting bees and making it more likely for your kids to get stung? If this is your lawn and you'd like to get some more grass and less clover, keep reading, we'll get there...
Why You Might Want to Keep Your Clover
But, before we talk about How to Eliminate Clover without using chemicals, let's spend a second looking at the benefits of clover and perhaps convince you that you'd like to keep the clover after all.
Reason 1: Clover Fertilizes Your Lawn
Clover has a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that attach themselves to its roots. These bacteria can absorb nitrogen (the main nutrient that gives grass its green color) from the atmosphere, meaning that it doesn't need to be fertilized. Even better, if you have a good mix of clover (or microclover) you shouldn't need to fertilize your lawn much. Contrary to poplular belief, clover won't take over your lawn, it will help your lawn. Notice how the side of the soccer field below that is planted with microclover is greener than the side to the right - clover can keep your lawn greener with less fertilizer!
Reason 2: Clover Prevents Weeds
We talk about mowing your lawn high to help prevent weeds. Mowing High helps prevent weeds because the taller the grass, the more it shades the surface of the soil and makes it difficult for weeds to establish. Clover, with its umbrella like leaves, shades the soil better than blades of grass do, so it shades the soil very well. If you have clover in your lawn, you can even mow at a more normal mowing height (2.5 inches). So, if you like mowing your lawn short, clover can help you avoid having a million other weeds. See how the section of grass that has microclover in it below has far fewer dandelions than the non clover section?
Reason 3: Microclover Provides Clover Benefits without Drawbacks
Over the years many people have called us wondering how to eliminate the clover in their lawns without using chemicals. Once they understand the benefits of clover they're often to leave the clover and even consider purchasing additional microclover to help make the lawn more uniformily clover covered!
The image above is of a lawn seeded with our Microclover which flowers much less prolifically than standard white clover and is aggressive enough to spread evenly through a lawn. We've found that lawns planted with microclover stay greener, healthier, and have fewer weeds than lawns with no clover. In addition, they need less fertilizer and water. So, if you have convinced yourself that if you can't "beat clover, join clover" then you might want to learn a little more about microclover by visiting our website at www.whygoodnature.com/microclover or purchasing it in our online store by visiting store.whygoodnature.com/microgreen-microclover.
How to Eliminate Clover Without Chemicals
Ok, if you're still determined to eliminate clover that's no problem, let's do it with out chemicals!
Step 1: Fertilize Your Lawn
Clover thrives in underfertilized grass because it has the advantage - it can make its own fertilizer and grass really can't. So, if you fertilize your grass with a good organic fertilizer in the spring and fall then you will give the grass the advantage.
Step 2: Mow High
Clover has no problem being mowed nice and short, but your grasses don't love it. When you cut your lawn under 3 inches tall, the clover will appreciate it and the grass will get a little stressed. So, mow high to give your grass an advantage over the clover.
Step 3: Kill the Clover - Organically
There is an exciting new organic weed killer on the market for killing weeds in your lawn without killing the grass. If you spray this new organic weed killer (Adios) on the clover in the grass, it will weaken the clover without harming the grass and give your grass the advantage it needs to outcompete the clover. Adios is the product and I've had some great success with it killing clover in our trials.
Step 4: Water Properly
If you're going to use Adios to kill the clover in your lawn without chemicals, you should keep your lawn properly watered. It's best if you can water deeply (1 inch - enough to fill a tuna can) once or twice per week. The day after one of those deep waterings when the grass is not stressed out, you can apply adios to kill the weeds in your lawn without killing the grass. If you spray the Adios on a lawn that isn't getting water and is stressed out by heat and drought, you may end up killing your grass as well. So, before you spray Adios to kill the weeds in your lawn organically, make sure you're keeping your lawn well watered.
The Clover we're referring to is White Clover, a perennial weed. There are other annual weeds that people often call Yellow Clover - typically Black Medic, and Oxalis get called Yellow Clover. You can use Adios to kill these "yellow clover" plants as well but don't need to because they are annuals and will die at the end of the season anyway. The best way to fight the yellow clovers is by using organic fertilizers, mowing high, and watering properly.