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Planting clover?

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by J.T.M., Feb 5, 2009.

  1. J.T.M.

    J.T.M. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 31

    I live in northern Michigan and have a small backyard that i would like to plant clover in this spring. the existing lawn is VERY sparce and the soil is quite sandy, also there is quite a bit of shade. My objective is to have a green back yard that doesn't need much maintenance and that looks rustic. Is there a certain method to planting clover? what kind should I plant? or is there a different type of ground cover that would be better? Thanks, J.T.M.
  2. cudaclan

    cudaclan LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Messages: 152

    Clover use to be a staple in grass seed blends from a bygone era. Later, it was considered a broad-leaf weed (by the same lawn seed providers).

    • The predominant clovers will be red (pink) or white. Both contribute in blocking/smothering out weeds that thrive in poor soil situations that turf blends can't.
    • The ability to “synthesize” nitrogen will reduce/limit fertilization.
    • Performs well in drought conditions.
    • Use sparingly as it has a tendency to spread.
    • Fragrant, red especially.
    • Do not broadcast seed by hand. It will clump and will look rather undesirable. Use a rotary hand-held broadcaster.
    • Flower heads will attract bees, good for honey production and pollination. Potential risk for allergic reactions (stings)

    If you want the conventional “estate” lawn, opt out the clover. Most find it unattractive with the round blades and flower heads amongst straight lawn fescue blades.

    It will perform well in your location.
  3. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    DO IT , lawns kill the planet, my avatar is the Persian clover we like and use for our farm, and some lawns that are impossible to grow grass in. on a good year they can "FIX" about 100 lbs of nitrogen in the soil per acre.....
  4. naughty62

    naughty62 LawnSite Senior Member
    from iowa
    Messages: 369

    If your back yard scorchs because of sand I would consider a heavy overs of turf type tall fescue/ blue grass combo.You can mix seed in a bucketand fill the hopper, stop a couple times and stir the hopper .a little white dutch clover goes a long way .After the clover establishes ,you might want to spot spray for weeds . if you broadcast liquid weed control use straight 2-4-d amine .Most 2way.3ways or other modern weed control will wipe out your clover in time.
  5. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Be careful with what they call 'red clover' - around here it is for hay, haylage, pasture and such. Can quickly grow real tall and cover a 6" patch of ground all by itself. White clover is still in my parents lawn from the "bygone era". No problem with that.

    Are you going to mix in grass seed as well?
  6. glfredrick

    glfredrick LawnSite Member
    Messages: 71

    I like the idea of white clover in difficult lawns.

    Just realize that once in place it is almost impossible to remove. You would have to burn down the entire patch for a year to have any hope. Same goes for wild violets.

    U of Kentucky Ag department now recommends that lawn care pros tell their clients to learn to love wild violets and clover. Easier that way. Sell the benefits instead of promising removal. Works for me, but a lot of people are now sold on some sort of pure turfgrass these days -- probably from their golf-course experiences (where they get to use pesticides that the rest of us just hope for).
  7. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Don't forget, there is money in those weeds... If we can kill them that is...
  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,540

    Great idea for my northern neighbor--as soon as the ice melts--you got your shanty off the lake by now right?

    Clover is a fine idea to build the soil. It supplies nitrogen, thereby enriching your poor soil.

    However, it needs full sun. It will do poorly in the shade. The shade may be the real reason for the thin grass. Give it a try. Let us know what happens. White Dutch clover is the choice for lawns. It is difficult to kill regular weeds without killing clover--use straight 2,4_D at about half the label rate to avoid killing the clover, if you need to. Clover needs regular water--it may fade out if it gets too dry. In heavy shade you may need to use a ground cover like ivy, or myrtle. Hope this helps.
  9. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,540

    Be ready to accept some white clover bloom during a few weeks in June. And furthermore, clover prefers neutral soil (not acid soil). It may need lime. You may need a soil test. You will not need nitrogen, but phosphorus and potassium could be low. And...for best results have the seed "innoculated", that is, coated with rhizobium bacteria. Faster and better growth and more nitrogen is fixed. A good seed dealer or elevator can help you with this.

    Black medic is another clover-like legume weed with tiny yellow flowers--an annual that reseeds itself. If you don't plan on mowing, then red clover, sweet pea, crown vetch and a large number of legumes are available. Deer will probably enjoy this. Take a look at neighbor's lawns to see if they can grow clover in your area.

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