Clover there! Clover there!Clover there! Clover there!Bryan PopePope
The early onset of spring was brought to my attention this year not by the fields of bluebonnets and ​Indian paintbrush, nor by the unseasonably warm temperatures that settled in by mid-February.

No, this year it was thanks to my buddy's tirade against clover, which for several weeks now has been assaulting his yard. Over the years, this fight has escalated into all-out war involving vigorous and regular applications of weed-and-feed that has damaged his grass.

Ever the pacifist, I attempted to point out some of clover's more positive attributes. For example, from an aesthetic standpoint, there's​ its lovely, dark green color and velvety feel (take off your shoes and revel in its coolness). From an environmental standpoint, it's great for bees (on second thought, better leave your shoes on). And surely you've tasted delicous clover honey.

My friend wasn't buying it.

Okay, then let's be practical about it. It's good ground cover that's easy to maintain.

Nope, still not buying it.

Fine. Then, as in any war, the b​est way to defeat one's enemy is to understand one's enemy.

​​​​To that end, an article​ on Todayshomeowner.com digs into the science behind what makes clover flourish and what you can do about it. Here's what they said:
  • Poor soil. Do a soil test to determine levels of nitrogen and other nutrients (editor's note: click here to find out how ​Texas A&M AgriLife Extension can help). Improve your soil quality by aerating and top-dressing with good-quality compost mix. You may need to repeat this for a few years until the soil is in better shape. Be sure to test different areas of soil, since the clover patch may be different from the rest of the yard.
  • Low nutrients. Feed your lawn with an organic slow-release fertilizer that will improve your soil as it breaks down. Chemical fertilizers quickly leach away and eventually make the problem worse.
  • Over irrigation. Water leaches nitrogen away, so heavy rains, overwatering, and overlapping sprinkler patterns can create inviting spots for clover.
  • Cool temperatures. If spring weather has been cool, soil microbes might not be active enough to mo​ve available nitrogen into your lawn grass, giving clover a head start in the growing season.​​​​​
If, like my friend, you feel that ​chemical warfare is your only path to victory, here's what the Texas Agrilife Extension Service says:

"The best thing to get rid of clover in St. Augustine is a 'clover killer' such as Ortho Weed and Clover Killer or any contact herbicide, which has label instructions for use on St. Augustine grass. If label instructions are followed, the herbicide cannot and will not kill the turf.

"Remember that clover is a reseeding winter annual and will not and cannot reseed and compete in a healthy, thick turf. Granted, if clover is allowed to grow and cover a turf area it can shade-out the desired grass. Clover can also damage and delay bermuda grass green-up in the spring if allowed to cover.

"If you are worried about herbicide damage to the area, regular mowing will remove the clover and avoid the damaging competition. Mow often enough to avoid clover seed formation, especially in the spring.​​​​"

 Search Blog Posts