The advantages of planting white clover (Trifolium repens) in our lawns are becoming clearer than ever. Long considered a weed, this plant makes grass more resistant to drought and pests while reducing the need for fertilizer.
In fact, clover and the grasses that make up your lawn complement each other well. The clover brings extra nitrogen, which favours the growth of ray grass and bluegrass, which are both found in most lawns. Meanwhile, the grass provides cover in the spring and fall — times of year when the clover is less active. During periods of drought, clover picks up the slack as grass goes dormant. However, since clover is not long-lasting and is less resistant to trampling than ray grass and bluegrass, it cannot be used on its own to form a lawn.
Sow in early spring
It is best to sow clover before the grass begins to grow in the spring. The young plantlets will benefit from the cool, damp weather and be subjected to less competition from grass and weeds. It is possible to sow the clover as soon as the snow is melted, using 50–75 g of seed per 100 m2 of lawn. Because clover seeds are small, it is difficult to distribute them uniformly over a large area. You will get the best results by mixing the seeds with coarse sand (about one part seeds per thirty parts sand) and using the spreader’s smallest opening. To encourage the young plantlets’ growth, we suggest keeping the grass at about 4–5 cm high until the clover is well established.
A lawn containing clover is more drought-resistant, making it possible to maintain ground cover of 5–6 cm. After mowing leave the clippings on the lawn, as they will provide a good dose of nitrogen once decomposed. Remember that clover requires a lot of sunlight; in shaded areas, it is better to plant a mix of grasses for shade. Overall, the result works very well: a lawn that can be used just like a traditional one. Far from a carpet of weeds, clover mixes uniformly with the grass to form a textured surface.
Do you have questions about this blog?
Visit our Green Pages Or, go to the Horticultural information counter at the Jardin botanique for personalized service. One of our experts will be happy to give you more information.