Before synthetic fertilizers and chemical herbicides came to the market, clover used to be an integral part of home lawns and grass seed mixes. However, the creation of broadleaf herbicides also led to the demise of clover lawns.
Today people often debate whether having clover in your yard is a gardening fail or a delight. In this article, let’s discuss the pros and cons of micro clover lawn.
Photo Credit Micro clover lawns stay green longer than typical grass lawns.
On the one hand, micro clover lawns are inexpensive, low-maintenance, and eco-friendly than traditional grass lawns. While at the same time, they are not great for lawns with high foot traffic, and they attract quite a few insects.
So, accepting or rejecting clovers on your lawn will largely depend on your needs and preferences. So, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of having clovers on your lawn and see if planting clovers is the right move for you.
Micro Clover Overview
Photo Credit Micro clover is a miniature version of Dutch white clover.
The term micro clover refers to a small variety of white clovers with fewer flowers, smaller leaves, and a lower growth habit than other white clovers. In addition to that, micro clovers also do not make clumps as aggressively as Dutch white clovers.
Unlike other larger clover varieties, micro clover mixes with many turf grass species very well and creates a uniform-looking lawn without crowding the existing grass. Micro clover used to be and has been a popular lawn option in Europe.
However, it is only now that American lawn owners are taking a keen interest in growing micro clover as an alternative to grass. Still, a micro clover lawn or micro clovers in the lawn are not for everyone. Keep reading to find out why!
Micro Clover Quick Facts
|Scientific name||Trifolium repens var.|
|Other names||Mini clover, Microgreen Micro clover|
|Soil pH||6 to 7|
|Height||4 to 8 inches|
|Propagation||Seeds and stolons|
|Blooming Period||Spring and summer|
|Soil requirements||Prefers cool and moist soil|
|Sun requirements||At least 4 hours of sunlight per day|
|Maintenance needs||Low to moderate|
|Lifespan||Two to three years|
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Benefits Of Micro Clover
Photo Credit A micro clover lawn requires less mowing and aeration than a grass lawn.
Micro clover is a leguminous plant, and it belongs to the same family of plants as beans and peas. It means that it has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen into the ground, thus increasing the fertility of the soil. That is not it, though!
Having micro clovers in your yard can offer a number of other benefits to your grass and soil. Some of these benefits are given below:
Micro clover plants have a robust, dense, deep and interconnected network of roots. This keeps the soil in place, reducing soil erosion in case of water runoff.
Drives Out Weeds
Micro clover is very good at keeping the weeds out of the lawn. It spreads very quickly with above-ground runners and stops the lawn weeds in their tracks.
Increases Soil Fertility
Because micro clover is a leguminous plant, it has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. That results in nitrogen-rich soil, which is good for plant growth.
Acts As Living Mulch
Micro clover turf acts as a living mulch by discouraging weed infestations, improving soil fertility, reducing soil erosion, and providing an excellent ground cover.
Requires Less Mowing
Micro clover plants have a low growing habit. This means that you will not have to mow a micro clover lawn as often as a grass lawn.
Even though micro clover is less drought-resistant than other clover varieties, it still requires less water than traditional grass.
Since micro clover can fix atmospheric nitrogen and outcompetes many weeds on its own, you will not have to spend as much money on buying fertilizer and herbicide.
Requires Less Aeration
As already stated, a micro clover establishes an extensive, deep and dense root system. This automatically breaks up soil which reduces the need for frequent lawn aeration.
Compared to grass which has minimal benefits to the environment, micro clover plants are beneficial to many insects and pollinators.
Advantages Over Other White Clover Types
Photo Credit Micro clover looks cleaner & tidier than other varieties of white clover.
In addition to the above-mentioned general benefits of micro clovers, it also has some other characteristics that make it advantageous over other clover varieties.
It looks Cleaner & Tidier
If you have ever seen clovers growing in a yard, you must know that they have a habit of growing aggressively and forming clumps. These clumps can suffocate the grass underneath, and the clumps also make your lawn look unsightly and untidy.
However, as the name suggests, micro clover is naturally a smaller plant. Compared to other white clover types, it has smaller leaves, fewer flowers, and it does not form clumps as aggressively. This gives it an obvious advantage over other clover varieties.
Moreover, if you mow micro clover frequently, its leaves become even smaller, and at the same time, it starts growing more densely, which is ideal for a lawn. In fact, micro clover leaves become 33% of typical clover leaves when they are mowed.
Grows Well With Grass
Even though white clover grows nicely with many turfgrass varieties, it is still an aggressive spreader. It can form clumps that crowd or suffocate the grass and other vegetation on your lawn. If you want to avoid such a scenario, you can use a micro clover instead.
It is still excellent at smothering out weeds on the lawn, but it grows closer to the ground, and its less clumpy nature allows it to mix with turfgrasses very well.
Since micro clover grows shorter than other clover varieties, it is ideal for creating a traditional grass lawn look. Moreover, unlike other varieties of white clovers, such as the Dutch white clover, it is not damaged by a short mowing height.
Thus, micro clover is excellent at keeping your lawn looking neat and clean as it also does not form clumps and crowds out other vegetation in the yard.
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Disadvantages Of Micro Clover
Photo Credit Micro clover does not tolerate high foot traffic very well.
Even though there are many benefits of growing clover in your yard, it is not all moonlight and roses. Micro clover can be tricky to grow in certain conditions and soils. So, make sure you read the points below before buying micro clover seeds for your lawn.
Not Very Drought Tolerant
While established micro clover lawns can survive considerably longer than traditional grass lawns, their drought resistance is considerably lower than other varieties of white clover.
The result is that in extremely dry and hot conditions, some parts of your lawn might turn brown, and you might have to reseed the area.
Does Not Tolerate Shade
Many white clover varieties, including Dutch white clover, are very shade tolerant, making them excellent for lawns covered with a thick canopy or surrounded by buildings.
However, micro clover needs at least four hours of sunlight per day, and it will not grow well under a dense shade.
It Is Expensive!
You can buy one-pound Dutch clover seeds for around one dollar, and they are enough to cover around 1,000 square feet of the ground. However, micro clover seeds are considerably more expensive, which might be a deal-breaker for many.
Can’t Tolerate High Foot Traffic
Although all clover lawns do not have excellent tolerance to high foot traffic, micro clover lawns are especially susceptible. Even a bit of carelessness can ruin your entire lawn. That is why experts always suggest mixing micro clover with grass in yards.
Susceptible To Diseases
Micro clover is prone to certain fungal conditions such as southern blight, brown patch disease and leaf spot disease. The disease situation worsens in areas with high humidity and warm temperatures. Moreover, you also cannot use chemical herbicides on clover lawns as most are designed to kill clover plants.
So, if you live in warm and humid areas, you might want to avoid a micro clover lawn. However, you can still choose other white clover varieties.
How To Plant A Micro Clover Lawn?
Photo Credit Micro clover seeds can be planted alone or with other grass seeds.
Growing a micro clover lawn is not difficult, but there is some planning involved. The first few questions you need to ask yourself before planting a micro-clover lawn are:
- Will you seed an existing lawn or overseed an existing one?
- Will you only plant micro clover or mix it with other grasses for a blended look?
Overseeding Vs. New Lawn
Many people kill all the vegetation on their lawn before starting a purely micro clover lawn. However, a lawn purely established from micro clover is not popular because micro clover seeds are pretty expensive!
To cover an area of 1,000 square feet, you will need at least two-pound seeds, which could cost you around $60. So, if you have an average-sized lawn of around 5,000 square feet, you will need to spend at least $300 to buy the micro clover seeds.
Before planting micro clover seeds in your yard, you need to prepare the top 4 to 6 inches of your lawn soil by tilling and adding compost. The clover grows best at a pH of about 6 to 7, so adjust the lawn soil pH accordingly. Then, rake the soil to ensure an even surface.
Once the soil is ready, use a seed spreader to distribute seeds on your lawn uniformly. Save some seeds for fixing the bare patches once clover germination starts. If you are overseeding an existing lawn, mow the existing grass close to the ground.
Moreover, also sow at least 25% more seeds than you would use on a new lawn to account for the seeds that will not penetrate the soil due to the existing vegetation.
Micro Clover Lawn Care
After sowing the seeds in the ground, you must make sure that the germinating seeds get plenty of water. Micro clover seeds grow best in moist soils. So, make sure that you water your lawn regularly to prevent seeds from drying out.
Then, wait for a week before fertilizing your lawn with an organic compound. This will increase seed germination and prevent weeds from taking hold of your yard.
Grasses To Grow With Micro Clover
Unlike other clover varieties, micro clover does not have exceptional drought, heat and cold resistance. So, experts always suggest that you plant micro clover with another grass to keep your lawn green all year round.
You can check with your local extension office to find out which grasses grow best in your area. Then you can buy 100% clover seeds and mix them with your grass seed or buy a pre-mixed blend. Some grasses that grow best with micro clover include Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue and dwarf perennial ryegrass.
Conclusion | Micro Clover Lawn
Having a micro clover or a traditional grass lawn is a matter of preference. Micro clover lawns are low-maintenance and more environmentally friendly than grass lawns.
However, a pure micro clover lawn is expensive to build. Therefore, many experts suggest planting micro clovers with other grasses on your lawn. That way, you can still enjoy the benefits of having clovers in your yard, and also, you won’t have to spend as much.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is white clover the same as micro clover?
Not exactly! The term micro clover is usually used to refer to a smaller variety of clovers with smaller leaves, fewer flowers, and growing low compared to other white clovers.
Is micro clover better than grass?
That depends on what you are trying to achieve. A micro clover lawn is not ideal if you want a lawn with tolerance to high foot traffic and a clean, tidy-up look.
Is micro clover toxic to dogs?
If your dog has eaten small amounts of clover plants, there is no need to worry. However, eating micro clover in large quantities can make your dog sick and cause digestive issues.
Will micro clover grow in the shade?
Micro clover needs at least four hours of sunlight per day to show its best growth. So, if a dense canopy covers your lawn, you might not want to grow micro clover.
Are micro clovers perennial?
Yes, micro clovers are perennial. This means that they can live up to many years.
Sources for Further Reading
Lawns and Micro clover – University of Maryland Extension Service
Micro clover…A New Lawn Alternative – University of Illinois Extension Service
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