Clover, including red clover, adds nutrients to soil, which is why farmers use it as a cover crop during the off season. However, red clover spreads rapidly and can overtake gardens or lawns. As with all weed removal, the best results come from removing red clover early, while it's young and before it's gone to seed. Hand-pulling is the best method for removing clover from turf, although careful application of herbicide is appropriate for large areas.
Water the lawn lightly the night before. This makes hand-pulling easier. Alternatively, choose a day after some rainfall.
Grasp the stem of the clover, close to the earth.
Continue until all the red clover is removed. If roots are left behind or if fresh red clover seeds germinate, hand-pulling throughout most of the season may be necessary before the clover is completely eradicated.
Purchase an herbicide containing 2,4-D and dicamba. This chemical combination has the greatest success rate for killing red clover, according to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Common weed killers like glyphosate aren't nearly as effective on red clover.
Shield the turf as thoroughly as possible by laying down pieces of cardboard or heavy plastic, leaving open only those places where the red clover grows.
Apply the herbicide according to the manufacturer's directions on a wind-free, warm day. Remember the herbicide will kill most plants it touches, including grass.
Reapply the herbicide as needed, waiting at least two weeks for the previously treated red clover to turn brown and shrivel up.
Reseed patches of bare ground where the red clover once was, if necessary. Wait at least two weeks before reseeding.
You can add hand-pulled red clover to a compost pile or pick it up from the turf and lay it down in the garden bed. It's an effective natural fertiliser, boosting the soil's level of nitrogen. Avoid adding plants treated with herbicide to the compost bin.
Tips and warnings
- You can add hand-pulled red clover to a compost pile or pick it up from the turf and lay it down in the garden bed. It's an effective natural fertiliser, boosting the soil's level of nitrogen. Avoid adding plants treated with herbicide to the compost bin.