growing white clover

How to Grow White Clover

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White clover (Trifolium repens) is a perennial in warm climates and an annual in cool climates. This fast-spreader, which fixes its own nitrogen from the air and adds it to the soil, is commonly grown as a grass companion, a beneficial insect attractant, or as living mulch between vegetables and fruit plants. White clover grows about 4 inches tall, is potentially invasive and develops white and pink flower heads. Native to western Asia and Europe, sow white clover in early spring, about 40 days before the last frost, within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 9.

Perform a test to determine the soil pH and the available nutrients in the soil. Amend the soil so it reaches a pH of 6.4 and a medium-to-high level of phosphorus and potassium, which is ideal for white clover. Incorporate lime into the soil to raise its pH, or add sulfur to lower it. Add phosphorus and potassium to increase their availability. Perform the soil test in the fall so there is sufficient time for the amendments to do their work before you sow the seeds.

Cultivate the soil in a sunny area of the garden about one week before sowing the seeds. Remove any weeds and rocks and pulverize clumps. Work a 4-inch layer of aged compost into the soil to help promote drainage. Level the soil surface with a rake. If you’re using white clover as a grass companion, mow the grass so it’s low to the ground.

Place the white clover seeds in a wheelbarrow or on a plastic sheet in a shady area. Evenly spray them with non-chlorinated water while turning them with a trowel. Sprinkle the right strain of rhizobia bacteria over the seeds to ensure proper nitrogen fixation. Use the trowel to turn the seeds and evenly coat them. Skip this step if you’re using pre-inoculated seeds.

Broadcast the seeds over the soil surface.

Sprinkle a 1/4-inch layer of soil over the seeds and water them in. When sown into a grass lawn, avoid covering the seeds — use a lawn roller to push the sown seeds into the soil surface.

Water the soil regularly to keep it moist — not soggy — at all times. Adjust your watering frequency after rainfall and increase it during hot summer weather.

Mow white clover down to about 2 inches to improve its appearance and to keep it thick and healthy. Additionally, this stops blossoms from maturing so the plant won’t reseed itself and spread. During frost periods, allow white clover to grow about 4 inches tall to prevent damage.

How to Grow White Clover. White clover (Trifolium repens) is a perennial in warm climates and an annual in cool climates. This fast-spreader, which fixes its own nitrogen from the air and adds it to the soil, is commonly grown as a grass companion, a beneficial insect attractant, or as living mulch between vegetables …

Grow A White Clover Lawn – Using Clover As A Grass Substitute

In today’s more environmentally conscious world, some people are looking for an alternative to the traditional grass lawn and wonder if they can use white clover as a grass substitute. It is possible to grow a white clover lawn, but there are some things to consider before you launch head first into having a white clover yard.

Let’s take a look at issues of using a white clover lawn substitute and how to replace your lawn with clover once you are aware of these issues.

Issues with Using Clover as a Grass Substitute

There are a few things you should be aware of before creating a white clover lawn.

1. Clover attracts bees – Honey bees are a wonderful thing to have in any garden as they pollinate the vegetables and flowers. But, when you have a white clover yard, the bees will be everywhere. If you have children or frequently go barefoot, there will be an increase in bee stings.

2. Clover does not hold up to REPEAT high traffic – For the most part, white clover handles heavy foot traffic pretty well. BUT if your yard is walked or played on frequently in the same general area (as with most grasses), a white clover yard can end up half dead and patchy. To remedy this, it is usually recommended to mix the clover in with high traffic grass.

3. Clover is not drought tolerant over large areas – Many people think that a clover lawn substitute solution is best because white clover seems to survive even the harshest drought. But it is only moderately drought tolerant when the different white clover plants are growing apart from each other. When they are grown close together, they compete for water and cannot support themselves in dry times.

If you are ok with the facts above about having a white clover lawn, you are ready to use clover as a grass substitute.

How to Replace Your Lawn with Clover

Clover should be planted in the spring or summer so that it has time to establish itself before cold weather comes.

First, remove all of the grass on your current lawn to eliminate the competition. If you would like, you can leave the current lawn and seed over top of the grass, but it will take longer for the clover to dominate the yard.

Second, regardless of whether you remove the grass or not, rake or scratch the surface of your yard wherever you would like to grow the clover as a grass substitute.

Third, spread the seed at about 6-8 ounces per 1,000 feet. The seeds are very small, and may be hard to spread evenly. Do the best you can. The clover will eventually fill in any spots you miss.

Fourth, water deeply after seeding. For the next several weeks, water regularly until your white clover yard has established itself.

Fifth, do not fertilize your white clover lawn. This will kill it.

After this, simply enjoy your low maintenance, white clover lawn.

Looking for an alternative to the traditional grass lawn? Consider using white clover as a grass substitute. The following article provides tips for growing a white clover lawn. Click here to learn more.