Clover control – Get it before it gets you

Clover spreads across our lawns every year. Spores blow in on the wind. We bring them home on our shoes and in our clothes. Our friends and neighbours are nice enough to plant it for us when they come to visit. Be as meticulous as you like in your efforts to control clover in your lawns. But you’ll still find it manages to find it’s way in.

Fortunately, clover is relatively easy to control if you remain vigilant. The key is not to let it get out of control and take over. What catches most of us out is that clover starts to appear early in winter when we aren’t really paying so much attention to our lawns. In St Clair, where I live and work, I noticed it starting to appear around late May which is slightly early but not unusual for the area.

The lawns tend to go dormant as the night time temperatures fall below 10 degrees. Because the grass is not taking the nutrients from the soil it provides an excellent environment for clover and other weeds, which can withstand lower temperatures, to prosper. Throw a bit of rain and winter sunshine into the mix and you have ideal conditions for weeds such as clover.

If left unchecked, clover really flourishes in late winter to early spring when the winds pick up and spread it like wildfire.

Bees also help it to thrive. And although bees are great for the environment, we really don’t want them around our lawns where our kids play. If, like me, you are allergic to bee stings, clover can quite literally be a death trap.

So what can we do about it?

You might be surprised how simple it really is. Sure you can spray it with a selective broadleaf herbicide which is something I do personally because it controls a number of other weeds including bindii. But the 2 most effective long term methods of control for clover in you lawns are:

  1. Pull it out before it spreads

  2. Like all plants, clover starts small. And it’s really easy to pull out. So as soon as you see a small clover plant, pull it out. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds. And it can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

  3. Keep mowing it

  4. If you have a larger area or the clover is already established, just keep mowing it. Use a catcher and make sure you mow it at a height that is just low enough to take off most of the flower heads. Without the flowers it will eventually die off. Combine regular mowing with seasonal herbicide applications and your lawn will have minimal issues with clover and other weeds.