Clover lawns are becoming increasingly popular amongst those looking for an eco-friendly and low-maintenance approach to lawn care. They provide a unique alternative to traditional grass because clover is much easier to maintain than weeds, such as crabgrass or dandelions.
This weed develops naturally and quickly spreads as it forms patches that can benefit your grass. Clover has its advantages, such as having deep roots that require less watering and fertilizing, but it also helps prevent common types of grass weeds, like crabgrass or dandelions, from taking over your yard.
So if you’re considering transitioning away from a more conventional kind of lawn, this article will help by introducing you to the world of micro clover and discussing the pros and cons associated with them so you can make an informed decision when deciding which turf is suitable for your home’s landscape.
Also, as a landscaper and gardening expert, I’d like to introduce you to the fascinating world of clover. Clover, a member of the legume family, is an incredibly diverse and beneficial plant species.
World Of Clover & History
♦ As a horticulturist and gardening expert, I’d like to introduce you to the fascinating world of clover. Clover, a member of the legume family, is an incredibly diverse and beneficial plant species. It has been around for centuries, and its history is filled with stories of both folklore and practical uses. According to legend, clover got its name from a Celtic goddess named Clovia, the goddess of gardens and prosperity.
♦ Until the 1950s, adding clover to one’s lawn was common to fertilize the grass and promote its health naturally. Clover is a Leguminous plant that is vital in keeping grass healthy.
♦ In addition to being a source of lore, clover has proven to be an essential part of farm, lawn, and garden maintenance. Clover is well-known for its ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into soils, providing critical nutrients to plants. It has also proven to be an essential food source for grazing animals such as cows, sheep, and goats.
♦ In recent years, clover has been used in various industrial applications due to its high levels of nitrogen fixation. For example, farmers often use clover as green manure to increase soil fertility before planting other crops. Additionally, clover can be harvested to produce feed for livestock or even brewed into a tea that can be used as a natural fertilizer.
♦ Clover is also widely admired for its beauty and versatility. There are many clover species, with some displaying vivid colors and unique patterns. These flowers can create attractive borders or as ground cover for gardens.
♦ Clover is an important part of horticulture and gardening, providing essential benefits to both people and the environment.
Types of clover
There are many types of clover, such as Trifolium repens (White Clover) and Trifolium pratense (Red Clover). In this overview, we’ll examine the characteristics of various clover species, followed by an in-depth exploration of micro clover lawns, their benefits, downsides, and the potential future for traditional yards.
Trifolium repens (White Clover)
White clover is a low-growing, perennial plant native to Europe and Asia. It has creeping stolons and forms a dense mat, making it an excellent ground cover. White clover has compound leaves with three leaflets and white, ball-shaped flowers. It is a popular lawn choice as it is drought-resistant and attractive to bees.
Trifolium pratense (Red Clover)
Red clover, also a perennial plant, grows taller than white clover and has a more upright habit. It is also native to Europe and Asia, showcasing its adaptability to various climates. Red clover features trifoliate leaves, like white clover, and distinct pinkish-red flowers. It is often utilized in pasture systems and as a green manure crop, thanks to its nitrogen-fixing properties that benefit soil health.
Clover Lawns Pros And Cons
As a professional gardener, I’ve seen many clients interested in choosing the right type of grass for their residential gardens. In this analysis, I will discuss the pros and cons of having a Clover Lawn over other grass types, such as Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Fescue, for a residential garden.
Pros of Clover Lawns
One of the main advantages of Clover Lawns is their low-maintenance nature. Clover requires infrequent mowing compared to other grass types due to its short-growth habit. This saves time and effort and reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions associated with regular mowing.
Clover Lawns are incredibly hardy and drought-resistant. These resilient plants can efficiently capture and retain moisture in their root systems, making them a water-saving option compared to other grasses that require more frequent watering.
No Need for Fertilizer
Clover is a nitrogen-fixing plant, meaning it can provide its own fertilizer by pulling nitrogen from the atmosphere and storing it in the soil. This natural process eliminates the need for additional fertilizers, making clover an eco-friendly alternative to traditional lawn grasses.
No Herbicides or Pesticides
Clover plants can grow well without the need for herbicides or pesticides, as they can help compete with weeds and naturally deter some pests. This reduces the garden’s chemical footprint and provides a safer environment for your family and pets.
Clover lawns, precisely the white clover variety, attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. This benefits the local ecosystem and can improve the pollination of your flowers and other plants in the garden.
Since it requires less maintenance, clover is an economical choice. The cost associated with fertilizers, herbicides, and overall upkeep is significantly reduced compared to other grass types.
Pet-friendly and Erosion Control
Clover lawns are resilient to pet usage and offer reasonable erosion control. They also remain green and lush even under heavy foot traffic.
Cons of Clover Lawns
While attracting pollinators offers many benefits, it may also increase the risk of insect stings for people who are sensitive or allergic. This factor is worth considering when deciding between clover and other grass types.
Despite being resilient, clover lawns may not be the best choice for areas with hefty foot traffic, as they can become worn and less aesthetically pleasing over time. You might consider mixing clover with other grass types or using a more durable grass like Bermuda for high-traffic areas.
Comparison to other Grass Types
Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Fescue are popular traditional lawn grasses. While they may create lusher, denser lawns, they require more maintenance, water, and chemical treatment than clover. Additionally, they do not possess the nitrogen-fixing properties of the clover, making the latter an environmentally-friendly choice.
What is Microclover?
Microclover, a dwarf variety of the typical Dutch white clover (Trifolium repens), has been making a name for itself due to its exceptional ability to coexist with turfgrass lawns. This versatile ground cover has been a popular choice for European yards for many years. It is gaining popularity in the United States thanks to its low-maintenance and eco-friendly qualities.
Featuring two popular varieties – Pirouette and Pipolina – micro clover exhibits a growth height of 4-6 inches. It adjusts well to mowing as low as 3 inches, setting it apart from other white and red clover varieties.
Differences Between Microclover and Regular Clover
Size and Growth Pattern: Microclover differs from their regular clover counterparts by their size and growth pattern. Sporting smaller leaves and lower growing habits (4-6 inches tall), micro clover provides a neat appearance, blending effortlessly with turfgrass lawns.
Tolerance to Mowing: Unlike common white and red clover varieties, which can be harmed or struggle with close mowing, micro clover stands out due to its ability to withstand mowing to lengths as short as 3 inches. This makes it an ideal choice for homeowners seeking a low-maintenance lawn.
Appearance: Microclover distinguishes itself with a denser, uniform green carpet-like growth, creating a visually appealing, velvety lawn texture.
Microclover Benefits: A Greener, Friendlier Lawn
Below are some micro clover lawn pros and cons to consider when choosing a grass type for your residential garden:
Natural Fertilizer Powerhouse
Microclover, like other clover varieties, is a legume that can fix nitrogen into the soil. This means less need for synthetic fertilizers and a greener, healthier lawn overall. With micro clover in the mix, you’ll use less fertilizer and enjoy a more sustainable landscape.
More Drought Tolerant
Microclover is known for being more drought-tolerant than traditional lawn grasses. This means reduced water usage and a greener lawn during those hot summers, making it a more environmentally friendly choice.
A Haven for Pollinators
Microclover attracts bees and other pollinators, promoting healthy ecosystems and garden biodiversity. If you’re looking to give a helping hand to our bee friends, micro clover is an intelligent choice.
A Low-Maintenance Option: Growing and Appearance Benefits
Unlike white clover, microclover has a slower growth habit, so it won’t crowd out as many plants. It can also be planted with more grass and ground cover varieties due to its less aggressive nature. Its shorter height and tolerance to close mowing make micro clover an excellent option for a traditional lawn look while maintaining its ecological benefits.
Microclover Disadvantages: What to Consider Before Planting
Drought, Heat, and Shade Tolerance
While micro clover is more drought tolerant than traditional lawn grasses, it does not tolerate drought or heat as well as white clover. Similarly, it needs to handle shade more effectively. If your landscape experiences extreme heat or heavy shade, micro clover might not be ideal.
Expensive and Increased Planting Costs
Due to its relatively new presence in the market, micro clover seeds can be pricey. Be prepared for higher upfront costs when deciding to plant micro clover.
Traffic and Disease Concerns
Microclover is less able to withstand foot traffic than white clover, which might concern highly frequented lawns. Also, micro clover is susceptible to southern blight, a soil-borne disease that can harm micro clover and other plants in your garden.
Tips for Growing and Caring for Microclover
To properly care for and maintain micro clover, follow these simple guidelines:
- Mow regularly, but avoid cutting the micro clover too short. This will help keep its healthy appearance and prevent unnecessary stress.
- Water consistently, focusing on deep watering during hot and dry periods.
- If you notice any signs of disease, remove the affected plants immediately and treat the area as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Clover Lawn
Which clover is best for lawns?
White clover (Trifolium repens), or Dutch clover, is the best lawn choice. It is low-growing, drought-tolerant, and has nitrogen-fixing properties to help create a healthy lawn. Additionally, it is more tolerant of foot traffic compared to red clover.
Is clover good for the environment?
Yes, clover is beneficial for the environment due to its nitrogen-fixing properties. It helps keep soils healthy and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers. Additionally, it helps attract pollinators such as bees to your garden, promoting healthy ecosystems and biodiversity.
What kills clover in the grass?
Vinegar mixture, a natural weed killer, can kill clover in the grass. Additionally, herbicides containing 2,4-D effectively kill micro clover and white clover. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label when using any herbicide.
Is micro clover safe for dogs?
Yes, micro clover is considered safe for dogs. It does not contain any toxic chemicals that can harm pets. However, as with any grass variety, watch your pet for any signs of irritation or allergies after playing in the lawn.
How long does Clover last?
Clover is a perennial plant that will return year after year, provided the favorable conditions. It can last up to five years if properly cared for.
In conclusion, clover yard pros and cons should be considered when deciding which grass type is right for your lawn. Microclover’s greater drought tolerance and nitrogen-fixing properties make it a great alternative to traditional lawn grasses.
While micro clover may come with challenges, such as increased planting costs, additional maintenance requirements, and susceptibility to diseases, understanding these factors will help you decide if micro clover is the right choice for your landscape.
With proper care and maintenance, micro clover can be a great way to create a healthier, greener lawn that will last for years. So why not give it a try? Let us know how it works out.
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.