How to make a clover lawn

Written by emma watkins | 13/05/2017
How to make a clover lawn
Clover lawns attract pollinators when in flower. (Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The seeds of white clover, also called Dutch clover (Trifolium repens), used to be routinely added to grass seed mixes. In the 1950s, the plant began to lose popularity. Nowadays, some homeowners consider clover a weed. Although the plant invades poorly kept lawns, it also offers benefits -- white clover absorbs nitrogen from the air and adds it to the soil, reducing the need for lawn fertiliser. As a drought-tolerant species, white clover also lets you keep a lawn while conserving water. Clover, however, does poorly under heavy traffic. Plant it in combination with grass, just as it used to be done.

Clear the planting area of debris and weeds. If standard grass is already growing on the site, mow it short so the clover seeds can reach the ground when you broadcast them. If the bed is bare, collect a total 450 g (2 cups) soil from different locations in the planting area from a depth of 15 cm (6 inches). Mix all the soil in a plastic bag. Take it to a Forestry Commision office or a local university for pH and nutrition analyses. Clover does not require nitrogen added to the ground, but it might need phosphorous and potassium, as well as lime if the soil pH is below 6.4.

Till the ground to a depth of 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches). If grass is in place, scratch the surface hard with a metal rake to loosen the soil.

Broadcast fertilisers and any lime recommended as a result of the soil test. Water the amendments in if a lawn is growing. Incorporate the lime and the fertiliser into the ground with a shovel if no grass is present. Rake a bare surface to smooth it out and push a lawn roller over it to remove air pockets.

Sow 56.7 to 227 g (2 to 8 oz) of white clover seeds per 93 square m (1,000 square feet) in early spring. Broadcast them at the highest rates to make clover the dominant species in your lawn. Mix grass seeds with the clover seeds if a lawn does not yet exist. Rake lightly to superficially cover the seeds if the ground is bare. Do not bury them completely underground. If grass is present, brush the lawn lightly with the rake to push the clover seeds down to the soil surface.

Irrigate the seeds and maintain the area moist until the plants become established. From that point, water the clover lawn with 2.5 cm (1 inch) moisture whenever the plants wilt. Do not apply nitrogen unless a soil test determines it is necessary. Mow a clover lawn as you mow a standard lawn, observing the height requirement of the grass species.

Things you need

  • Hoe
  • Lawnmower
  • Shovel
  • Plastic bag
  • Metal rake
  • Fertiliser, per soil test
  • Lime, per soil test
  • Broadcaster
  • Lawn roller
  • Clover seeds
  • Grass seeds, as needed

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