Before World War II, White Dutch clover was prominent in lawns. In fact, it used to be a standard ingredient in grass seed mixes. But after petrochemical-based weed killers were introduced, these products killed weeds - and clover. Since then, the lawn plant has been looked down on as a weed, when, in fact, it has many benefits for lawns. Here are five reasons why you should think twice before getting rid of clover in your lawn—the benefits of this tiny plant may surprise you.
Everyone knows that a vibrant and lush lawn has some type of fertilizer helping it out, whether it's granular fertilizer or even compost. However, many people don't know that clover has the ability to fix nitrogen in yards, giving this yard plant the ability to act as a tiny fertilizer machine. Clover often moves into areas with poor soil because it heals soil that's nitrogen-deficient; clover takes nitrogen from the air, converts it to a plant-friendly form, and releases it into the soil. Voila! Beautiful grass.
There's nothing worse than driving past a patchy brown yard in the drought of summer. It's especially disheartening for lawn mowing businesses, because if there's no grass to mow, there's also no work. That's why clover is so helpful. It stays green during even the driest spells due to its deep roots, out-performing many cool-season grasses [cool season grasses blog] and giving the visually pleasing aesthetic of a healthy lawn. Plus, it will keep the work coming for lawn maintenance professionals.
If you have never thought about the lack of diversity in grass for lawns, now is the time to do that. Ecologists often view grass as ill-suited for a habitat because it's simply not diverse. That's where clover comes in. Its nectar attracts bees and other important insects, such as parasitoid wasps (these wasps prey on harmful bugs). You might think of bees as pesky but they help sustain fruit trees, flowers, vegetables, and other plants. In turn, the variety of plants will increase the diversity of insects and their predators, keeping your lawn's insects under control. The more diverse a lawn, the better off it is.
Clover-rich lawns have a fresh and light smell that you won't mind while lawn mowing, picnicking, or barbecuing—as opposed to the more chemically-laden odor that fertilizer produces. It may seem small, but the great fragrance is one more reason you'll enjoy (instead of avoiding) your lawn.
Clover is resilient, and its strength actually smothers other weeds. If your mower is tired of picking up those pesky, hard-to-kill weeds, clover may be the way to go. Growing clover does not allow room for typical lawn weeds to thrive, meaning the lawns you mow could be weed-free and beautiful!
Those are just a few ways that clover can benefit lawn grass. Not only is the use of clover organic, inexpensive, and easy, it's also very effective. There's a reason this lawn plant is coming back in a big way and being mixed with conventional turf grasses; there are just too many benefits to clover, and you don't even need to find a four-leaf clover to make it work!