If this sounds like a dream come true, you should consider growing a clover lawn. However, you'll want to understand the basics of the plant before you walk out the door and start buying seeds. First, it's important to note that there are various kinds of clover: some notable ones are white (also called “Dutch clover"), red, and crimson. Crimson clover is an annual plant that boasts colorful blooms and can grow up to three feet tall. Farmers use it to replenish nutrients in the soil. Red clover is biennial and grows two to three feet in height. White clover, unlike the others, is a perennial plant that can be over-seeded or reseeded every few years. It can be mowed and is tolerant of heat and sun, much like regular grass.
Advantages of Growing a Clover Lawn
As alluded to earlier, there are several benefits of growing a clover lawn. For instance, clover can naturally aerate the soil by pulling nitrogen from the air. Clover's roots also extend deep underground, which gives it access to water supplies that most other plants can't reach. Naturally, this makes the plant less dependent on regular watering. With stems that reach a maximum height of about six inches, clover won't require much mowing either. You'll be glad to learn that mature clover aggressively competes for resources with neighboring plants and consequently does a great job of keeping invasive weeds off of your lawn. Lastly, clover flowers attract honeybees: insects with their own set of gardening and environmental perks.
Drawbacks of Clover
There are a few potential deterrents to consider before deciding on clover. If, for example, a lot of people tend to walk directly on your lawn, it's important to know that clover can not withstand high foot traffic as well as grass can. Many people choose to install stepping-stones or gravel paths in their yards to avoid unnecessary trampling. While you may not want anyone stepping on your lawn, you definitely don't want them doing so barefoot—it's easier to unknowingly step on a bee in clover lawns. Choosing to grow several white clover plants in the same area can also create problems, as they can sometimes start to compete against each other for water.
Basic Steps for Growing a Clover Lawn
Having weighed the accompanying pros and cons, you're ready to start growing some clover. Get yourself off to a strong start by investing in some quality white clover seeds. Your best bet is to go for high yielding, disease-resistant varieties that are well-suited to your particular climate. A fourth to a half-pound of clover seed will cover about 1,000 square feet of soil, so you probably won't need to buy much.
After buying seeds, rake the soil you're going to be planting them in until it as flat as possible. Using a wheelbarrow for a bowl, mix the clover seed in with some soil until it looks like you have about four seeds per square inch. Spread this mixture evenly across your lawn. Cover the entire area with a quarter-inch layer of soil or straw to keep the ground moist as the seeds start to germinate.
Avoid walking on the newly seeded area for at least a week. Remember to maintain soil moisture with light, regular watering. Clover sprouts should appear on your lawn within two weeks. From this point on, you can start watering less. In fact, after your lawn matures, you shouldn’t water it more than once a week. Just be sure to water deeply when you do, as it encourages the roots to reach further down into the soil.