White clover is a naturally occurring legume that grows well in various types of soil. Microclover emerged from a research program and helps improve the landscape, especially lawns. According to the producer, microclover is a type of white clover. However, microclover has several differences when compared with white clover.
True to its name, microclover is smaller in size compared to the regular white clover. Even regular white clover stays small when it grows in a lawn you regularly mow. If you don't mow the lawn, white clover grows in big clusters. In contrast, microclover remains small even without regular mowing. Microclover stays low, has thin stems and small leaves. As such, it doesn't interfere with the uniform appearance of the lawn.
The regular white clover has many uses. It produces nitrogen that improves the soil for other crops, prevents weed growth, minimises erosion and serves as a food source for grazing animals. On the other hand, microclover grows where its superior aesthetic qualities matter. For example, it grows in lawns to fill in the bald patches between grass blades. It also grows in sports arenas, such as soccer fields.
Whether a plant is considered to be a weed depends on whether the gardener believes it improves the landscape. White clover may become a weed when it grows in a lawn because its texture, colour and shape may differ from the main grass type in the lawn. On the other hand, microclover improves the lawn and is not usually considered a weed. Its small size allows it to hide between blades of grass and its green colour makes the lawn appear lush.
Farmers may grow regular white clover with grasses to minimise problems, such as infertile soil and pests. It usually grows with annual ryegrass, Kikuyu-grass, pangolagrass, Dallis grass and cocksfoot. Microclover also often grows in the lawn with grasses, especially those with fine leaves and dense growth habit. Microclover grows well with perennial ryegrass, creeping red fescue, chewings fescue, smooth-stalked meadow grass and tall fescue.