A Clover Lawn Can Save Time, the Environment
What if you could have a beautiful lawn that you mow only once or twice a year, that reduces your yard maintenance costs significantly and helps the environment? Clover, mixed into your traditional lawn or grown by itself, can do that.
“My background is in science, so I was eager to look into clover for my lawn,” explained Toledoan Carol Cribbs. “Clover replaces much of the nutrients we’ve taken out of the soil for all these years. So, when our small front lawn needed to be replaced, it was natural to try clover.”
She worked with Neville Landscape and Tree Service, Holland, to design and install the clover lawn at her Old West End home. Just days after it had been sown, and with only three days of initial watering, the clover had sprouted.
“This is my second clover lawn installation in this area in the past six months,” said Neville Landscape Manager Tom Kistner. Clover is a good choice in many situations, because it’s a quick germinator with a compact, even growth. Clover lawns are green throughout the year, are soft to the touch (or foot) and are a sustainable choice. “Although there are more than 200 varieties, white and dwarf clovers are most preferred for lawns, because they don’t grow much taller than five to six inches,” he said. He used a dwarf White Dutch Clover in Carol Cribbs’ lawn.
The pros for replacing grass with clover
The arguments for selecting clover over traditional grass are compelling:
- Clover fertilizes itself and the areas around it. Clover is a nitrogen fixator. It takes nitrogen from the air and deposits it in the ground as an absorbable fertilizer.
- Clover can be grown in hot or cool, wet or dry conditions. Clover is extremely drought resistant and will keep its green color even during the hottest and driest parts of summer. It performs well in sunny and part shade areas and can be used in heavier shade when spread in more concentrated mixtures.
- Clover is a good value. Seed costs are low (about $4.00 per 4,000 square feet), it requires no fertilizer or pesticide, and water and labor costs are lower. Clover needs very little mowing, if at all, and can go for two to three years without re-seeding.
- Clover’s flowers are an effective pollinator for bees, but homeowners who don’t want the bees around can simply mow when flowers appear.
Clover can also be overseeded into an existing lawn. It grows well in areas where grass is difficult to grow, and it remains green when the rest of the lawn is dormant. Its nitrogen fixating will improve the health of the surrounding plantings and may reduce the amount of fertilizer needed. Amy Stone, Extension Educator at the Ohio State University Lucas County Extension, said that clover could be a good addition to your lawn, especially for areas without a lot of foot traffic. “I promote diversity and not a monoculture, even with lawns,” she said. “I always suggest a mix of different species, so if something fails, there is something else to compensate.”
Cribbs says that her new clover lawn is a “beautiful canvas to work with.” She’ll balance the area with herbal ground covers around the lawn. “We all need balance, that’s what I tell people,” she said.