If you’re like most homeowners, then you probably spend a good amount of time and money each year trying to get rid of clover in your lawn.
And if you’re like me, then you’ve probably tried just about every method out there – from herbicides to manual removal – with mixed results at best.
But what if I told you that there’s a better way? A way to get rid of clover in your lawn naturally, and fast!
I know it is tough and persistent, but if you show a little persistence of your own and are armed with good info, you can get rid of unsightly cover for good.
Even better, you can do it without a drop of store-bought, a toxic pesticide. Too good to be true?
I promise it isn’t! Keep reading and I will tell you about 6 all-natural, chemical-free ways to get rid of clover in your lawn.
Is Clover Bad for My Lawn?
Clover is usually categorized as a weed, one with tiny, round leaves and the capacity to spread quickly through grass due to its small size and high rate of growth.
While clover isn’t inherently harmful to grass, it does compete with it for nutrients, causing your turf to become thinner, weaker and less robust. Eventually, your grass will start to die off.
Clover, on the other hand, is more resilient to the same conditions that hurt grass, making it an intruder in your lawn that often appears when it isn’t properly maintained or whenever the grass is struggling.
Because of this, many homeowners regard clover to be an annoyance at best, or a threat at worst and seek to eliminate it from their lawns.
Clover is not harmful or dangerous, and plenty of people enjoy its low, ground-covering appearance- especially when compared to other weeds!
If you believe a patch or even a whole lawn of clover is fine, there’s no need to take any offensive measures.
It won’t harm you or your pets, though you will have many more bees around as they love the stuff and use it to make honey.
However, clover is tenacious and spreads quickly, meaning your small patch of clover might turn into a major problem if left to its own.
If you don’t want to go through the process of replanting your lawn from scratch in the future, you might want to nip it in the bud.
What Conditions Does Clover Thrive In?
Before we can combat the clover menace, we must first know it; what it likes, what it doesn’t, and how it thrives.
Generally, clover is an opportunistic plant that may be problematic at any time your grass is thin or failing.
Clover thrives in full light and well-drained soil. It’s resistant to heat and cold alike, as long as the temperature isn’t extreme.
It will die when frozen or become dormant in extreme heat. Clover is drought-resistant but will also grow well when water is abundant.
Clover thrives in compacted soils and grows particularly well in lawns that are regularly kept short.
When grass is short, it can’t outgrow the clover and block its access to sunlight. This allows clover to flourish and in turn outcompete the grass.
Clover is also more tolerant of acidic soils than grass, which means it can quickly take over a lawn with unmoderated soil.
Various species of clover can thrive in high and low acidity soils alike, so you won’t necessarily be in the clear just because your lawn is one or the other.
In the end, clover sort of hangs around waiting for an opportunity to move in, and then establishes itself in your lawn before quickly overtaking the delicate grass when it is struggling.
You can have a nice-looking, well-manicured lawn one week and the next it will all be clover.
6 All-Natural Methods for Getting Rid of Clover
There are all kinds of ways to get rid of clover, and many of them are all-natural, requiring no pesticides, harsh chemicals or other trickery that could adversely affect your lawn, the environment, or your health.
No matter how bad the clover outbreak in your lawn is, there is bound to be a method below that will work for you.
Keep Your Soil Aerated
Clover competes for food and water with other plants but it also has a decided advantage in its niche because it is less concerned than grasses about having loose, aerated soil.
If you keep the soil loose, clover will have a harder time getting set and will also struggle when it is established. This is a preventative measure and a method of elimination.
Aerating the soil in your lawn is an excellent method to improve drainage and help grasses compete better against the invading clover.
Don’t be concerned if you’ve never aerated your lawn before: It’s not difficult to do it over a small area, and with the right tool even your whole lawn.
But you are dealing with badly compacted soil you might want to call a lawn care company and let them bring in machines to make short work of it.
You can aerate your soil by punching holes with a spike or with an aerator tool, the latter having rows of spikes or tines help you cover more ground, quicker.
Keep in mind to aerate your grassy spots as well as any other space where you are trying to get grass to grow. We’re trying to help the grass thrive while we make things worse for the clover.
When the soil has been aerated, you may wait and let the grass take over the clover or opt to get rid of the clover immediately. We have a number of other methods at our disposal for that, just below.
Let Your Grass Grow Higher
A lot of homeowners think that a healthy lawn needs close-cut grass.
I too personally prefer the soft, neat appearance of a short lawn, but I don’t prefer having to root out all the weeds that this choice invites.
It’s true: A lawn cut short is more susceptible to weeds, and that includes clover.
Clover is a tough plant that can quickly take over a lawn if the grass is cut too short.
The simplest way to get rid of clover (and prevent it from taking hold) is to let the grass grow a little taller.
Grass, as a plant, thrives when it has matured (read: tall enough) to overpower other ground-covering plants in the area. If you cut it too short, you give the clover opportunity.
When you keep your grass on the longer side, it crowds out the shorter clover plants and shades their petals so they can’t photosynthesize as well.
No sun, no photosynthesis! The clover won’t die immediately, but it will have a harder time spreading and growing, and will eventually perish as the grass thrives.
If you’re having trouble with clover in your grass, give the grass extra time to grow before mowing, and then raise the cutting height on your lawnmower.
It is definitely the most elegant way to rid your yard of this weed while also taking the very least amount of effort.
Pull the Clover by Hand
The best method to get rid of clover right away happens to be the most direct: pulling it out by hand.
This is definitely a minor chore but it does not have to be a time-consuming one. With some proper preparation, clover will pop out easily.
To remove clover from your lawn, start by soaking it in water for at least 30 minutes. This will aid in the loosening of the soil and make removing the roots intact simple and easy.
Set up a sprinkler near the spot to handle this unless you want to water it with a hose yourself. Then, with a trowel or weeding tool, carefully loosen the dirt around the base of the clover.
If the grass is still present in the affected area be careful not to harm its roots if you can. With a little luck, there won’t be a blemish on your lawn to deal with if you have grass left behind.
After it has been loosened, grab the clover plant at the base with both hands and pull it out of the dirt. The entire plant should come out easily, including the roots, if done correctly.
Hand-pulling may be the surest method for controlling clover in your lawn if you keep an eye on young infestations.
Smother it with Plastic Sheeting
Clover is difficult to get rid of in neglected lawns, particularly when it grows in places where the grass is only just surviving.
In any case where clover is well established but you still have grass to consider, covering it with opaque plastic sheeting is one method that works well.
For maximum effectiveness, the edges of the sheet should completely cover the clover patch and the edges should be weighted down with rocks, dirt or something else.
Clover, like most plants, dies when it receives insufficient light or air. The plastic wrap prevents both. Over time, the clover will die off from a lack of sunlight, usually, as a result.
This is an easy and minimally invasive approach to get rid of undesirable clover without investing a ton of effort or relying on harsher methods that might harm the rest of your grass or other plants.
The main disadvantage is that any grass beneath the plastic will die along with the clover, and you’ll almost certainly have to replant if you don’t want a bald spot in your lawn.
Given a little time, this plastic wrap approach will easily eliminate an aggravating and mature clover patch.
Sprinkle Corn Gluten Ahead of Season
Corn gluten is one all-natural treatment that works to destroy clover without harming the grass. It is a by-product of the corn and wheat milling process, and it contains a natural herbicide called glyphosate.
Corn gluten will halt the expansion of existing clove plants while preventing new ones from sprouting when used on your lawn.
It is critical to note that corn gluten must be applied before the clover plants begin to grow in the spring, so preparation is essential.
It works because it disrupts the plant’s growth cycle, and it is considerably less efficient at eradicating mature clover that is already doing well.
The good news is that it will not harm your grass even when directly applied. On the contrary, it will help to nourish your lawn as the corn gluten decomposes, usually adding nitrogen.
Corn gluten is one of the most efficient and least harmful additives for combating clover on your lawn, and it’s completely safe for most other plant life, and totally safe for people and pets.
DIY Vinegar Herbicide
While there are numerous herbicide treatments available in stores that promise to remove clover from your lawn, they are frequently costly or have negative side effects.
Killing grass and other plants, health effects, harmful effects on pollinators, you name it!
For those seeking a less destructive direct approach to eliminating clover, I recommend soaking the area with a solution of water, vinegar, and dish soap.
Simply combine equal parts vinegar and water, and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle and shake it up.
The dish soap helps because it allows it to stick better to the plants it is attacking. Apply liberally to your overgrown clover patch and wait.
The vinegar will dry out the clover and alter the plant’s pH balance, killing it swiftly and surely, though you might need a few applications.
You will see the clover dying off soon enough.
This solution is completely safe for people and pets, but be warned that it will also kill or harm other plants, including grass, so be cautious not to get it on anything you don’t want to destroy.
After using this approach to remove a large area of clover, you may expect a dead patch on your lawn, so be prepared for replanting of grass.
Keep Your Lawn Free of Clover with These Tips
Clover can be difficult to get rid of, but with the proper knowledge and approach, you can do it.
From simply pulling it out to hitting it with an eco-friendly vinegar herbicide, you now have options for reclaiming your lawn from this persistent pest of a plant.
With some diligence and effort, you can soon have a lawn free of clover.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
Find out more about the team here.