Microclover is becoming the newest lawn trend nationwide, with people praising its beauty and affordability. Not only is it visually pleasing with a lush green color, but its low water requirements make it an environmentally friendly choice. But what exactly is micro clover? How thick should a piece of sod be?
When installing micro clover in your yard, there are pros and cons to consider to determine whether this unique grass variety will be right for you.
In this post, we’ll discuss the basics of micro clover and provide a comprehensive breakdown of all the benefits and drawbacks that come along with it.
What is Microclover?
Microclover is a dwarf type of Dutch white clover (Trifolium repens), growing 4 to 6 inches tall, with trifoliate leaves or three leaves resembling shamrocks. It is the smallest clover variety and is designed to grow shorter, less patchy, and with fewer flowers than standard clover associated with grass mixes. Microclover doesn’t crowd out grass and can be mowed down to 3 inches.
Types of Microclover
The most famous varieties of microclover are ‘Pirouette’ and ‘Pipolina.’ These varieties have the typical clover-leaf shape but are only 1/3 to 1/2 the size of common clover and grow more densely.
Best Microclover Options
The best micro clover variety depends on soil type, climate, and intended use. Both Pirouette and Pipolina perform well in most environments; however, micro clover struggles in sandy soils and extreme heat or shade. Therefore, a blend of micro clover and turfgrass is recommended for better results.
Microclover lawn pros and cons?
There are several benefits of micro clover lawns with some disadvantages. The most common are:
Pros of Microclover Lawns
- Low Maintenance: Micro clover requires less mowing and watering than other cover crops, thanks to its low-growing nature and drought resistance.
- Maintains Soil Moisture: Micro clover forms a dense canopy that reduces evaporation and maintains soil moisture, making it an efficient water conservation tool.
- Weed Suppression: The dense mat created by micro clover outcompetes most weeds, helping to keep fields weed-free without using herbicides.
- Nitrogen Fixation: Micro clover establishes a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that convert atmospheric nitrogen into usable nitrogen, reducing the need for nitrogen fertilizer input
- Erosion Control: The dense root system of micro clover aids in holding the soil together, reducing erosion in agricultural fields.
- Attracts Beneficial Insects: Due to its flowers, micro clover attracts beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs, promoting pollination and natural pest control.
- Grows well with grass: Micro clover can be planted with grasses, creating a dense and aesthetically pleasing lawn.
- Can grow in compacted soils: Microclover can grow in soils compacted by traffic or other sources, making it an excellent option for playgrounds and walkways.
- Reduced need to aerate: The high level of microbial activity in soils with micro clover can help to break up soil compaction and reduce the need for aerating.
- Resistant to dog urine: Microclover has higher levels of tannins which help to resist the damage caused by dog urine.
- Resistant to de-icing salts: Microclover is resistant, making it ideal for sidewalks and driveways.
- Attracts rabbits away from vegetable gardens: Since rabbits love to eat clover, planting micro clover around your vegetable garden can help keep them away from your veggies.
Cons of Microclover Lawns
- Soil Type Sensitivity: Micro clover prefers well-drained soil with a neutral pH, which might be a limitation for growing in areas with poorly drained, heavily alkaline, or acidic soils.
- Temperature Range: Micro clover thrives in temperate climates and is not well-adapted to extremely hot or cold temperatures, potentially limiting its use in areas with harsh climatic conditions.
- Not Ideal for Grazing: Although micro clover can be used as forage, it doesn’t grow as tall as other clovers, making it less suitable for heavy grazing by livestock.
- Might Create Monoculture: As micro clover is highly competitive and dominant, it can crowd out other crops and create a monoculture, reducing crop diversity.
- Rainfall Patterns: Micro clover grows best in areas with moderate rainfall, but too much water can cause it to become patchy and thin. Therefore, it
Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Microclover Lawn
- Mowing: Microclover can be mowed down to 3 inches. Regular mowing helps to encourage dense growth and prevents flowering.
- Watering: Microclover is drought-tolerant, but it needs supplemental watering during periods of intense heat or extended drought.
- Fertilizing: Micro clover can fix its nitrogen, which reduces the need for added fertilizers. However, turfgrass in the mix may still require some fertilization, albeit at a lower rate.
Is micro clover good for lawns?
Micro clover is a popular lawn choice due to its low-maintenance nature and drought resistance. It’s also known for its weed suppression, erosion control, and ability to attract beneficial insects. However, it’s essential to choose the right micro clover variety for your specific environment for the best results.
Can I mow Microclover?
Yes, you can mow Microclover down to 3 inches. Regular mowing helps to encourage dense growth and prevents flowering.
Does Microclover need to be fertilized?
No, Microclover can fix its nitrogen, which reduces the need for added fertilizers. However, turfgrass in the mix may still require some fertilization, albeit at a lower rate.
Is Microclover good for sandy soils?
No, micro clover does not do well in sandy soil. A blend of micro clover and turfgrass is recommended for best results.
Can Microclover be planted with grass?
Yes, Micro clover can be planted with grasses, creating a dense and aesthetically pleasing lawn. It also helps with weed suppression and erosion control.
What is a mini clover lawn?
Mini clover lawns are grass lawns mixed with several varieties of miniature clovers, such as ‘Pirouette’ and ‘Pipeline’. These small clover varieties are about 3 to 1/2 the size of common clover and grow more densely.
In conclusion, micro clover can be a great addition to your lawn, offering numerous benefits such as nitrogen fixation, reduced use of chemicals, and enhanced resilience. Although it can be more expensive and less adaptable than regular clover, a micro clover lawn can thrive and provide a visually appealing, environmentally friendly lawn alternative with proper care and a turfgrass blend.
Douglas Mackalie is a Founder of Mackalies Garden. He is one of the most exciting people you’ll ever meet. He has 25 years of experience in horticulture and gardening, most of which he’s spent outdoors getting his hands dirty.