properties and care » The horticulturist

More and more people are choosing to replace their lawns with plants that are easier to manage and require less maintenance. Not only does grass require regular mowing, but if you want it to be vibrant green all year round, you’ll likely need to feed it, aerate it, dethatch it, and water it thoroughly. Not to mention, some people also go the toxic route of spraying their lawns with herbicides to get rid of dandelions, for example.

Clover is one of those plants that requires less care than grass and also helps pollinators. It also requires little to no fertilization and is completely drought tolerant.

First, we need to discuss the difference between clover and micro clover, as there is quite a bit of confusion between the species!

Clover to replace the lawn: properties and care

Contents

What is the micro clover?

Micro clover is an extra-small version of white clover (Trifolium repens) that has been around for decades in Europe. It can be used to create a pure or mixed clover lawn that is shorter than the standard white Dutch clover seen in parks.

Micro clover is basically a dwarf version of white clover, and it doesn’t grow taller than 6 inches, even if you never cut it. If cut occasionally, it will reach about 4 inches in height. Micro clover leaves are half the size of white clover leaves, and if you mow the lawn, the leaves grow back even smaller! It also doesn’t bloom as much or as often as standard white clover, and if cut occasionally it won’t bloom at all.

The most widely available variety of microclover is Pipolina. It’s harder to find at local garden centers, so buying micro clover online seems like the best option.

Although micro clover was designed for mixed grass/clover purposes, that doesn’t mean you can’t sow a pure micro clover lawn. In fact, many people have tried a micro clover with great success.

Clover to replace the lawn: properties and care

Pros and Cons of Micro Clover Grass

What we have found is that micro clover is a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly option than grass. This is especially true with so many droughts occurring today.

So, without further ado, here are some reasons why you may (or may not) want to grow a micro clover lawn.

Why Micro Clover Lawns Are Better Than Grass

Clover to replace the lawn: properties and care

First, let’s start with the fact that clover fixes nitrogen in the soil (an extremely important process that helps other plants (and gardens) nearby thrive.

1. Nitrogen Fixer: Clovers are actually legumes that improve soil fertility and health. By extracting nitrogen compounds from the atmosphere and injecting them back into the soil, clover acts as an excellent natural fertilizer. Grass mixed with clover will be healthier and greener, due to this aspect of nitrogen fixation.

2. Less fertilizer: Due to its nitrogen fixing abilities, clover does not need to be fertilized. It acts as its own natural fertilizer!

3. Drought Resistant – With its deep roots, micro clover is much more drought tolerant than most grasses and will stay green even when the rest of the lawn turns brown. Clover will also stay green during the warmer months of the year when the rest of your lawn can turn brown. It also turns green very early in the season and stays green until frost begins to set in.

4. No Mowing Required – As mentioned above, micro clover doesn’t require mowing, and if you choose to mow, it doesn’t have to be as frequent as a lawn. At full height, the micro clover will reach approximately 6 inches uncut and 4 inches if cut occasionally.

5. Requires No Aeration: Unlike grass, clover doesn’t need aeration to stay lush and green (grass does). Clover tolerates compacted soil better than grasses, and even tends to reduce compaction (so aeration is unnecessary). This means more money in your pocket as you save spending on lawn care companies to aerate your lawn.

6. No herbicide required: Clover is a broadleaf plant, so applying herbicide will kill the plant. This means less chemical toxicity in your home and better health for the planet.

7. Cover the ground: Clover is a great filler material for patches of dead grass or that just need a little filling. It is also perfect for planting between cobblestones and looks great too.

8. Beneficial for pollinators and wildlife: Clover flowers are an important source of nectar for insects like bees. If you don’t cut the clover very often, the plants will start to produce little white flowers that not only look super cute, but also help insects. Increasing nectar sources for pollinating insects like bees will improve our overall ecosystem.

9. Repels Pests and Weeds: Clover helps discourage pests, most of which prefer grasses. It is also resistant to lawn weeds (like dandelion, although dandelion is a very beneficial medicine), and can even choke them to death.

10. Sun or Shade: Clover grows well in both sun and shade. Although the shaded parts grow at a slower rate than the rest of the grass, they won’t perform as badly as grass when they don’t get enough light.

Disadvantages of clover as a lawn

Clover has a few drawbacks:

Stains clothes more easily than grass Not durable enough for playgrounds or high traffic areas unless mixed with grass Short lived perennial and may require reseeding every 2-3 years to maintain an even position in pure clover turfs. In mixed clover lawns, the clover will be seeded correctly to maintain a consistent presence.

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