How To Get Rid Of Clover In Lawn

Last Updated on April 14, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

A clover problem is quick to invade St Augustine lawn when it’s stressed due to ground compaction, lack of nutrients, being mowed too short, or low ground pH.

Fortunately, homeowners don’t need to use harsh chemical herbicides to control or eliminate clover.

Here we’ll show you how to get rid of this perennial weed on your lawn.

Quick Tips To Eliminate Clover

Pull the clover in your lawn out by the roots or smother it with a piece of black plastic.

A 1:1 mixture of water, vinegar, and dishwashing liquid can be sprayed on weed spots as a DIY weed killer.

Target clover by treating it with organic herbicide and apply corn meal gluten to your lawn.

It’s easy to control clover on your lawn, and there are some ways you can prevent it from invading your lawn to begin with.

Use organic fertilizers for healthy, thriving grass. Organic fertilizer can overpower these weeds.

You may also be interested in some benefits this specific weed has for the environment, which might make you reconsider getting rid of the creeping stems altogether!

Identifying Clover

Clovers belong to the pea family, and other agricultural crops, like vetch and lucerne.

There are many species in the genus Trifolium.

White clover — Trifolium repens — is most commonly found growing on most lawns that are domestic.

You also get some pink and red species.

They are fast-growing perennial plants that form clumps on the lawn.

They spread among grass seed via stems that creep along the grass surface and self-seed prolifically.

With its characteristic 3-lobed round leaflets, this invader is easy to identify even before it develops its white flowers.

Each green leaf has a light C-shaped marking, and it sits on a strong and long stalk.

In spring and fall, clover root systems produce round clusters of small round white, pinkish/purple, or red flowers on lawn grasses.

It is an extremely resilient broadleaf weed which is quite tough to control. It is low-growing, fast-spreading.

Due to its low-growing nature, it can easily avoid being cut away by the blades of a lawn mower.

The Life Cycle Of White Clover Seeds

During the winter, clover plants are mainly dormant. As soon as the temperature levels start rising and reach 50 degrees, the clover begins to awaken and grows into a weed of green color.

During spring and summer, the clover starts to flower, and it’ll start spreading vigorously if not controlled timely.

The flowers start turning into seeds towards the end of summer, followed by seed germination in early fall.

Why Does Clover Invade Grass?

Clover grows on lawn grasses when the grass is stressed. This can be due to a variety of reasons, but it usually comes down to soil conditions.

The following factors weaken any grass species, causing a stressed lawn, giving different types of weeds an opportunity to invade.

Compacted Soil

When we walk or play on our lawn, over time, the ground becomes compacted. With fewer air spaces between soil particles, there is less oxygen for beneficial bacteria in the soil.

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Water cannot infiltrate the soil properly, and the grassroots and grass seeds struggle to take up nutrients. You should aerate your lawn annually using spikes or a core aerator. And be sure to water properly.

Nitrogen Level

Grass needs soil rich in nitrogen to grow vigorously and well.

Over time, nitrogen in the soil is depleted by the grass, and if you don’t feed your lawn with a slow-release nitrogen rich fertilizer, this perennial plant will start setting in.

Fun Fact 

Clovers are able to absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere and store it in their root system, so they are able to thrive on their own nitrogen, even though levels are low in the soil.

pH Level

Most grass types prefer a soil pH which ranges from 6 to 7. Soil that is too acidic causes a stressed lawn, making it more susceptible to clover taking over.

Apply dolomitic lime to your lawn annually to increase the pH of soils that are too acidic to prevent weeds from appearing.

Natural Methods to Kill Clover in a Lawn

It’s not always necessary to use harsh chemical weed killers such as triclopyr rich herbicides to get rid of clover from lawns.

Products containing active ingredients such as triclopyr can harm surrounding grass and other nearby surrounding plants.

There are a number of methods to kill clover on your lawn naturally and safely.

Vinegar & Water Solution

The first common method is to make a DIY killer spray that is non-toxic and effective against this creeper, mixing 1 cup of water, 1 cup of vinegar, and a teaspoon of dish detergent together in a spray bottle.

The soap causes the mixture to stick to the leaves, and the vinegar burns the leaves, eventually causing clover to dry out and die.

Spot treat the patches of weed carefully, avoiding the grass as much as possible.

Repeat spraying this natural weed control remedy twice a week until the invader has died.

Block Out Light And Oxygen

Depriving this perennial weed of sunlight and oxygen is another natural way to combat clover. This is a great way to treat bigger patches of unwanted weeds.

Use a piece of thick black builders plastic or simply a black garbage bag or plastic sheeting to cover the area that is infested.

Weigh the sheet down with bricks or rocks around the edges and wait a few weeks. All the clover and grass under the plastic will die.

Be careful not to use this method over longer periods of time as this may start damaging the surrounding lawn by stopping grass growth.

Organic Weed Killer Or Selective Herbicide

Environmentally friendly products such as a natural herbicide are a responsible choice and are available at any garden center, nurseries and online gardening stores.

Choose the correct herbicide products which kills clover and not grass seeds.

All you need to do is spray it on the clover. Use surfactant along with broadleaf herbicides for better effect in spot treating.

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There are different herbicides that should be used on different occasions.

Post-Emergent Herbicide

Post-emergent, lawn safe herbicides are used to maintain a healthy lawn or to kill the occasional clover growth. If you have a small weed problem, use the Ortho Weed B Gone Plus Crabgrass Control, (amazon link).

This herbicide mixture is easy to use and comes in a pre – mixed solution.

If however, the problem is larger and consists mainly of clover or chickweed, the Ortho Weed B Gone Chickweed, Clover, Oxalis Killer (amazon link), is a better option to use.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergents will, unfortunately, not kill clover that have already developed. This product, however, helps prevent clover from spreading, stopping the seeds from germinating further.

This product is quite important to add to your lawn care routine.

Pre-emergent herbicides aid in preventing the development of a great variety of broadleaf weeds.

Manual Removal

The best way to get rid of lawn clover in lawns permanently, is to pull out the entire clover plant, root system, and all, before it has flowered and set to seed.

Loosen the soil around a patch of clover to remove it easily by grabbing hold of it at the base of the plant.

It is crucial to get the entire clover root. Any remaining roots will cause the nuisance weed to regrow.

This process may take longer than other methods, and it may also be quite a difficult method requiring more effort from the gardener, but it has been shown to be the best way.

Your efforts will be worth it in the end.

Prevent Infestations Of Clover in Your Lawn

Professional lawn care specialists have a few recommendations when it comes to lawncare and preventing clover growth on your grass. Following these reduces the likelihood of clover overtaking.

Mowing My Lawn

Mow grass to the correct height to prevent the emergence of lawn clover.

Mowing grass blades shorter than 2.5 inches stresses it, making it easier for clover seeds to germinate on the soil surface.

To keep your grass healthy so that it can overpower the clover patch, mow the lawn high. It should be at a height of at least 3 inches or longer.

Due to the shallow root system of a clover, the taller grass around them will create a shadier environment for the clovers.

Mowing high will deprive them of sunlight, prevent further seed germination and eventually kill them.

Plant Food For My Lawn & Soil Fertility

Soil fertility is of importance, so feed the entire lawn with organic lawn fertilizer every couple of weeks.

A healthy green lawn growing from grass seed on healthy soil will minimize the chances of clover growing.

In early spring, you can apply different fertilizing materials such as earthworm castings, bone meal, liquid seaweed fertilizer, guano, or cow manure to your lawn to boost its growth.

This enables the grass to suppress the weeds.

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Any standard fertilizer also contains some nitrogen. As mentioned earlier, nitrogen will aid in reducing the growth and spreading of clover.

If weed invasions are small, organic slow-release lawn fertilizer, should be beneficial.

If, however, the problem is bigger, standard quick-release fertilizer is the way to go.

Corn Gluten

Use cornmeal to prevent weed seeds from germinating. It doesn’t kill existing clover clumps but stops them from spreading by releasing organic peptides that prevent seeds from growing.

Corn gluten meal is also a great source of nitrogen.

Don’t use cornmeal gluten when the weather conditions are too wet or on a wet turf.

Remember that this product only has its effect on weeds for about 4-6 weeks. Don’t forget when you apply the gluten as you don’t want to miss the next application window.

Benefits of Clover Weeds

Some people enjoy the look and soft feel of clover lawns, while others can’t stand the sight of clover on their turf. Many homeowners with young children may not want clover in their grass, as it attracts bees.

Is this type of weed beneficial?

The answer: Yes, some aspects of clover may be of importance and, interestingly enough, weed seeds were mixed into grass seeds back in the days of World War II and long after that.

Great Plant Companion

As briefly mentioned, clovers are able to make their own fertilizer by fixing nitrogen from the air and releasing it into the soil for other plants to benefit from.

The symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria forms nodules on its roots. Most legumes actually do this. Agriculturally, clover is used as a cover crop or “green manure”.

Clover Suppresses Other Weeds

The large leaves of clover create shade over the soil surface, preventing other weeds from germinating. Keep your lawn mowed shorter than 3 inches, and clovers will thrive and overpower other weeds.

Do It For The Bees

Bees and other pollinators flock to the advertisement of clover flowers. The growth of clover in your lawn helps these insects by providing advertisement for an important source of nectar.

Conclusion

This legume that regularly invades lawns, grows fast and spreads via its roots and stems that creep along the soil. Let’s recap on how to get rid of clover in your lawn:

1. DIY weed killer spray with water, vinegar, and dish soap.

2.  An organic herbicide product would be an excellent choice.

3.  Cover with black plastic to block air and light.

4.  Pulling the clover out and removing dead spots.

Keep your lawn healthy by feeding it in early spring, applying cornmeal gluten to suppress weeds from germinating, water deeply and mowing it at a height greater than 3 inches. Good lawn care and healthy grass will not attract white clover to lawns.

Remember, clover is beneficial to the environment and other garden plants. Consider this before you get rid of clover. The insects will thank you!

References:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/njb.01723

https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/wq252