Clover is a low-growing, drought-tolerant perennial plant. White clover is best mixed into turfgrass and lawns. A variety of low growing white clover called microclover can provide all the benefits of clover, while producing fewer flowers and remaining somewhat hidden below the grass.
- provides your lawn with enough nitrogen to eliminate any need for ecologically hazardous synthetic fertilizers,
- acts as an important food source for declining pollinator populations,
- attracts earthworms and other beneficial soil microorganisms,
- remains green year-round,
- resists drought and
- helps your lawn resist disease.
Bringing clover back into our lawns requires a change in perception about what constitutes an aesthetically pleasing landscape. Contrary to the perception that clover is an eyesore, it helps the lawn remain verdant green during the growing season.
As a member of the legume family, clover “fixes” (accumulates) nitrogen from the air through beneficial soil bacteria living in nodules on its roots. Clippings left on a lawn after a mixed grass-clover turf is mowed can provide a significant source of cost-free nitrogen. For many soils and grass types, this is enough to eliminate the need for any additional nitrogen fertilizer applications over the course of the year.
Recent research finds that clover acts as a food source for a wide range of important pollinator species. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Insect Conservation on species richness in mixed grass-clover lawns in the Lexington, Kentucky metro area documented over 200 pollinator species over the course of spring sampling, including approximately 21 different species of bees. On average, each lawn contained between 2-12 different pollinator species.
Dutch White clover is the traditional option to add to turf grass, but you can also have poppies and clover as a cover crop. Many garden centers and hardware stores now carry clover seed, and it can also be purchased online HERE or HERE, or check out our pollinator-friendly seed list. DFL organics and EarthTurf are two companies which specialize in grass-microclover seed mixes.