Tag Archives: lawn substitute. nitrogen fixer

The Beauty and the Benefits of Clover

Trifolium repens (Dutch White Clover) in bloom

Trifolium repens (Dutch White Clover) in bloom

Once upon a time, clover was an acceptable part of a lawn mixture… but then came the era of the “Perfect Lawn”. Though many of us are still stuck in this mode, we’re also torn because we know that perfect turf lawns are expensive to maintain, time consuming and bad for the environment. But what to do??

I’ll share my story with you:

When I moved into my house, the front yard was basically just a gopher mangled lawn and and a few half-dead shrubs. I tore all this out and planted a variety of fairly drought-tolerant plants that are all doing fine 3 1/2 yrs later. Included in the new design was a very small (aprx. 10′ x 12′) lawn area. My front garden is west-facing, so I thought we might want to sit out there in the afternoons. It turns out the only sitting we do out there is on the porch or steps, or while pulling weeds! The lawn isn’t much more than a pretty swath surrounding the path to the side gate, though I still spend time mowing and watering and feeling guilty when I don’t. So… I thought I’d try something new this year. This spring I’m going to over-seed my lawn with white Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens) seed, and this is why I think you should too:

– Clover is a nitrogen fixer- meaning it takes nitrogen from the atmosphere and collects it in nodes on it’s roots and passes it into the soil- meaning once the clover is established in your lawn, you don’t need to fertilize it any more. Yep.

– It grows fine in poor soil and is drought tolerant, Also, it stays green through the summer. All of which adds up to a lot less watering your lawn. Uh huh.

– No more using broadleaf herbicide. (because it will kill the clover, but don’t worry, the clover will crowd out other “weeds”) This is starting to sound better and better.

– Bees love it! We all know they need all the help they can get right now. (one caveat; be careful if you’re allergic to bee stings- this may not be the right choice for you) Go bees.

– Clover tolerates low-mowing (you’ll just have less flowers) and, get this; doesn’t turn yellow when your doggy friends use it as a potty. Wow.


– It’s pretty! Who doesn’t like beauty? (I mean besides Oscar the Grouch) You can enjoy this beauty close-up while making flower necklaces and crowns, and searching for 4-leaf clovers!

What does all this mean?? It means you get to have a nice, green lawn without using chemicals or lots of water. Selfishly, this adds up to less maintenance time for you and unselfishly, you get to be an earth-saving hero! Yay you.

You can get the seed on-line at groworganic.com. Make sure you get white Dutch Clover. There are many kinds of clover and some aren’t appropriate for home lawns.
Mix the seed with compost or soil mix and distribute evenly, following instructions, over freshly raked and weeded lawn. Water regularly (if no rain) for a few weeks. It may be necessary to reseed in 2-3 years to make sure the clover gets firmly established.

Let’s let go of our need for the “Perfect Lawn” and go with more of what nature intended… the imperfectly perfect lawn!


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