How to get rid of clover in your lawn

We discuss the various options for controlling your white clover problem.

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Clover is a wildflower that originates from Europe and Asia. It has shamrock-like foliage, and its flowers are white, pink, or purple.

Clover is considered a weed because it can quickly spread in lawns and some areas of the garden where you may not want it to grow.

Here’s how to control clover in your lawn:

The basics of clover control

Clover is a common weed that can appear in various locations around your lawn.

If you’re seeing an abundance of clover in your lawn, it’s important to know how to get rid of it so that you can keep your beautiful green lawn thriving.

There are three main options for treating clover:

  1. Increasing nitrogen levels in the soil
  2. Removing by hand
  3. Applying a weed killer

Clover thrives in low-nitrogen environments, so increasing nitrogen levels is usually the first port of call.

This will increase the fertility of your soil and promote better growth for grasses over weeds like clover.

We’ll dive deeper into each of the tree options later in this article.

Why is clover growing on your lawn?

Clover is a perennial weed that grows on lawn grass. If you have clover in your lawn, it’s likely because there isn’t enough nitrogen in the soil for your grass to thrive.

Clover thrives when there is not enough nitrogen available because these plants can produce their own nitrogen through a process called nitrogen fixation.

This means that if you want to get rid of clover in your lawn, you need to feed your lawn with more fertiliser containing nitrogen.

Should you remove clover from your lawn?

Clover has many benefits, so you may want to think about whether you should remove it at all.

Clover helps maintain soil moisture, suppresses other weeds and attracts beneficial insects like bees.

It also helps reduce the need for artificial fertilisers.

What’s more, clover is unlikely to completely take over your lawn. If you improve the health of your lawn, clover is unlikely to cause you much of a problem.

What is clover?

Clover is a perennial, which means it continues to grow year after year. The most common types of clover are red clover (Trifolium pratense) and white clover (Trifolium repens).

The plant functions as a stolon which means that it has underground stems that spread out through the soil and new plants grow from these stems.

This type of growth allows white clover to establish itself quickly in areas where it has not been previously cultivated. The leaves form a shamrock shape when they unfurl after germination.

Clovers are legumes. Legumes are nitrogen fixers, which means that they take nitrogen from the air and convert it into nutrients for themselves and other plants through a process called nitrogen fixation or rhizobialism.

Clover identification

White clover grows low to the ground. The leaves are trifoliolate, smooth with light or dark markings, and form the shape of a shamrock.

The heads of white flowers sit at the end of and have 7-centimetre stems. They are generally 1.5–2 centimetres wide and are often visited by bumblebees and honey bees.

How to get rid of clover

Option 1: Increase nitrogen levels in your lawn

If you want to get rid of clover in your lawn, there is no better way than by increasing the nitrogen levels in it. Clover doesn’t like high nitrogen levels and will be forced out by them.

Look for fertilisers that have a high “N” number in the NPK ratio.

Recommended lawn fertilisers:

Tip: Increase your mower height

Mowing your lawn short won’t kill clover but it may have a negative impact on your lawn’s health.

Instead, mow regularly at a high setting to give your lawn the best chance to grow stronger and fight off the clover naturally.

Option 2: Remove by hand

When you have a small amount of clover, it’s best to remove it by hand. Clover is easy to pull out by hand if it’s young and not yet well established in your lawn.

Grass seedlings do not compete well with clover, so they should be removed before they grow large enough to take over the area.

You may need to pull out any grass that has been damaged by the clover or weeds before reseeding in order for your new seedlings to grow quickly and effectively.

Option 3: Weed killer

If you choose to use a weed killer, it is important to understand that clover is a broadleaf weed. This means that its leaves are flat and wide, which helps determine which weed killers will be appropriate.

Aside from general broadleaf weed killers, there are also specific products for killing clover that contain chemicals such as Bromoxynil, MCPA, triclopyr and triethylamine salt.

These chemicals can be effective but may also harm other plants, so be sure to read the label carefully before applying them.

Recommended weed killers for clover:

Tip: Use Surfactant

Surfactants reduce surface tension on the leaf, which in turn breaks up clumps of weed spray liquid and coats the leaf better. So if you want to get rid of clover, try mixing a surfactant with your weed killer.

RELATED: How to get rid of bindii

Conclusion

Clover is an excellent forage for animals (and can help fix nitrogen in the soil), but if it’s too invasive, you can use a few tricks to control it in your lawn.

Clover FAQ

Will clover choke out grass?

Clover is not considered particularly invasive and is more likely to only grow in areas of your lawn that are thinning. It usually won’t take over the lawn and can actually provide a lot of benefit to the lawn and garden.

Is white clover good for a lawn

White clover is a perennial plant that can fix nitrogen in the soil. It also suppresses other weeds, and attracts beneficial insects like bees. This makes it a great addition to your lawn if you’d like an organic, low-maintenance option.

Does clover come back every year?

Clover is a perennial and will come back every year. However, it can also be beneficial to your lawn.

How does clover spread?

Clover is an invasive perennial that spreads by stolons—the underground stems that grow horizontally under the surface of the soil. These stems can root and sprout new plants wherever they touch the soil.

Photo of author

Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY, and is always up for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking delicious meals from fresh produce picked from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.