How to Kill Clover Without Chemicals
by Alec McClennan, on April 28, 2020
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 have more grass and less Clover, keep reading to learn more.
Why You Might Want to Keep Your Clover
Before we talk about how to eliminate Clover without using chemicals, let's spend a minute discussing 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 beneficial bacteria, which attach themselves to its roots. These bacteria can absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere, the main nutrient that gives grass its green color. Even better, if you have a good mix of Clover (or Microclover) your lawn won't need to be fertilized to look lush and green. Contrary to popular belief, Clover won't take over your lawn, it will help your lawn. Notice how the the Microclover sections of this lawn are thick and green, while the grass only sections are brown from the Summer heat. Clover can keep your lawn looking great when other grass types gets stressed.
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, creating a less optimal environment for weeds. 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 grass in the playing field of Microclover below has far fewer dandelions than the perimeter grass without Clover?
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 often leave the Clover and even consider purchasing additional Microclover to help make the lawn more uniformly 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're now of the mindset that if you can't "beat clover, join clover" then you might want to learn a little more about it by visiting our Microclover page. You can also purchase Microclover at our online store.
How to Eliminate Clover Without Chemicals
Ok, if you're still determined to eliminate Clover, we understand. Let's get the job done without chemicals!
Step 1: Fertilize Your Lawn
Clover thrives when grass is not fertilized 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 your grass the growing 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. Learn about more ways to help your lawn thrive here.
Step 3: Kill the Clover Organically
There is a great organic weed killer on the market that kills weeds in your lawn, without killing the grass. If you spray this organic weed killer on Clover, it will weaken the Clover without harming the surrounding lawn, giving your grass the advantage it needs to outcompete the Clover. Weed Beater Fe is the name of the product and we've had great success using it to eliminate Clover and help grass thrive.
Step 4: Water Properly
If you're going to use Weed Beater Fe 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 or 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 Weed Beater Fe to kill the weeds in your lawn without killing the grass. If you spray Weed Beater Fe 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 Weed Beater Fe 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. You can use Weed Beater Fe to kill these "Yellow Clover" plants as well. However, since they are annual weeds, you may not need to apply any product since they will die at the end of the season anyway. The best way to fight any of these weeds is by using organic fertilizers, mowing high, and watering properly.