How To: Get Rid of Clover
Try some of these simple DIY solutions to eradicate this common lawn invader.
Stubborn weeds are the bane of a beautiful lawn. Yet, although it’s pretty stubborn, clover (aka Trifolium repens) is actually beneficial. It brings nitrogen into the soil and encourages grass growth when it decomposes. In fact, some grass blends even include micro-clover as a welcome addition to a lawn.
Still, many homeowners simply don’t appreciate all those small white clover flowers interrupting their field of green. (It can also attract rabbit pests, which love to snack on clover as well as nearby garden plants.) Mowing it over is only a temporary fix, as clover always grows back, and fast. So if you’re adamant about keeping this herbaceous three-leaved intruder off your landscape, you’re in luck! Read on for easy DIY remedies for how to get rid of clover for good.
10 Easy-to-Follow Remedies to Remove Clover in Your Lawn
Proper lawn care—including the right mowing and watering habits—plus an assortment of clever hacks can send clover packing. Get started with one or more of the following tried-and-true solutions.
Remedy 1: Knock it out with nitrogen.
Generally speaking, a well-fertilized lawn keeps all weeds at bay, but ensuring proper nitrogen levels will give you an extra edge against clover. It’s a lack of nitrogen that allows this weed to thrive, because clover can produce its own nitrogen—so it’s got a leg-up on a lawn that’s low in nitrogen. Try a nitrogen-rich weed-and-feed formula. Organic fertilizers might do the trick if you have a small amount of clover, but if your lawn is becoming overrun, choose a standard fertilizer that is not slow release.
Remedy 2: Remove it manually.
Don’t give clover a chance to spread. Get rid of small clumps as soon as you notice them by gently loosening the soil around the base with a spade or your fingers, then plucking the clover up. Be sure you get all of the roots.
Remedy 3: Deprive it of oxygen and sunlight.
A natural way to eliminate clover in your lawn is to deprive it of sunlight and oxygen. Place plastic sheeting (a garbage bag will do) on top of clover, securing the corners so it won’t blow away. This ought to kill the weed in a few weeks, but use this method only on large clover patches; otherwise, surrounding grass will probably experience collateral damage.
Remedy 4: Douse it with a homemade mixture.
Here’s a natural weed control remedy many gardeners find effective: Mix vinegar with a small amount of dish soap, put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spot treat clover clumps. Just take care to avoid surrounding plants.
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Remedy 5: Kill it with corn gluten.
Available for purchase online and at your local garden center, corn gluten meal can inhibit clover growth without damaging any nearby plants. It releases organic dipeptides into the soil, which dry out clover seeds and make it more difficult for them to sprout. Spread about 20 pounds of corn gluten meal per 1,000 square feet of lawn, water well, and allow to dry naturally.
Remedy 6: Hit back with herbicide.
If you’ve got to pull out the big guns to get rid of clover, broadleaf herbicides can do the job. These weed control products generally contain the chemicals Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, Mecoprop, and Dicamba, which disrupt normal plant growth patterns and cause the weeds to twist, the leaves to cup, and the stems to crack. While these herbicides don’t harm surrounding grass, they can hurt some garden plants and insects, so it’s wise to spot treat directly on clover rather than apply freely.
Remedy 7: Mow grass higher than 3 inches.
While some folks really like the look and feel of short turf, leaving your lawn a little bit longer can keep a clover problem in check. Clover grows low to the ground and has a shallow root system. So if you raise your mower deck and keep grass 3 or more inches high, your taller grass can effectively block sunlight exposure to the clover. This helps prevent clover from growing and spreading throughout your lawn.
Remedy 8: Water properly.
Maintaining the ideal moisture level is one secret to discouraging clover. Too-wet turf is the perfect habitat for weed seed germination, but thirsty grass is typically stressed out—and that invites weeds as well. While the right amount of watering will depend on your soil and grass species, gardening pros recommend monitoring your lawn rather than taking a set-it-and-forget it approach to an irrigation system. Water deeply once or twice a week is a rule of thumb, but temper that by remembering to water only when the lawn starts to look dry, or growth seems stalled.
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Remedy 9: Kill clover naturally.
Those who’d rather avoid using chemical herbicides may want to check out the organic weed killer A.D.I.O.S. (the name stands for Advanced Development in Organic Solutions). This non-toxic, odorless, and all-natural selective weed killer is safe to use around pets, livestock, children, crops, and bodies of water. It not only weakens and kills clover, it won’t harm healthy grass. Spray it directly on clover as well as other unwanted weeds, such as dandelion, ground ivy, lambquaters, and yellow mustard. It may also be effective against poison ivy, sumac, buckthorn, bettersweet, ragweed, and other noxious and invasive species.
Remedy 10: Seed those bald spots.
After you’ve successfully killed patches of clover, there may be bare areas on your lawn that are even less attractive than the weeds were. The solution is to lay down grass seed right away, and cover with a thin layer of mulch. Water the grass seed regularly to promote new growth, and follow proper lawn care for fertilizing and mowing to keep clover from coming back.
RELATED: How to Make Mulch from Scratch
If you want more info about the three-leaf, white-flowered weed that can bully your beautiful lawn, read on for answers to some common questions.
What’s Causing Clover in My Lawn?
Clover typically flourishes in lawns that are underfed, overwatered, and mown too short. Practice proper lawn care with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, water only when grass begins to feel dry, and maintain a turf height of 3 inches or more for clover control.
What will Kill Clover but Not Grass?
A selective herbicide can target clover and other weeds while leaving grass unharmed. Avoid using non-selective herbicides, which can damage any plants they come in contact with. Even with a selective herbicide, it’s wise to spot treat rather than broadcast chemical weed killers.
Should I Get Rid of Clover in My Lawn?
If your idea of a gorgeous lawn is an uninterrupted carpet of uniform grass blades, then you will probably want to get rid of clover. There are, however, good reasons to invite clover: It has a lovely aroma, tends to stay green during periods of drought, attracts bees and other beneficial insects, and can even smother other weeds.
Why is Clover Taking Over My Lawn?
Clover can flourish on your lawn when growing conditions favor the weed more than the grass. If your lawn is low on nitrogen, for instance, clover is likely to thrive. And because clover is a perennial, if it is present during one growing season it will probably come back the next.
Armed with 10 solid ways to combat clover, you should be able to deter the weed and pull up the well. But understanding the positive aspects of clover may help you see it as more friend than foe.