White clover (Trifolium repens), sometimes called Dutch clover, originated in Asia and Europe. Despite its name, this ground cover also produces pink flowers. The plant is a perennial that grows 8 inches tall; its seeds used to be routinely included in grass-seed mixes. White clover assimilates nitrogen from the air, adding it to the soil and reducing the need for fertilizer. It is also soft, simple to maintain and recovers well from mowing. Besides being a lawn companion, white clover serves as a nutritious legume for cattle grazing.
Things You'll Need
- Metal rake
- Lawn mower, as needed
- White clover seeds
Submit a soil sample to the county cooperative extension service for pH and nutritional analyses the fall before you plant the white clover seeds. Follow the liming instructions in the lab report to raise the pH to 6.4 if necessary. Apply phosphorous and potassium to the soil as recommended. White clover does not need nitrogen in the ground.
Break up the soil with a pickax and shovel one week before sowing clover seeds. Rake the bed to make a smooth surface. Drag the back of the rake over the ground to firm it. If grass is already growing at the site, mow it very short and scratch the soil with a metal rake.
Broadcast 2 to 8 ounces of white clover seeds per 1,000 square feet in early spring. Use the lesser amount if another grass is in the bed and you intend for the other grass to be the dominant species. Spread a high rate of white clover seeds if you want it to become the dominant ground cover. Barely bury the seeds under a thin layer of soil if no grass is growing at the site. Some seeds should remain visible.
Irrigate the white clover seeds at planting. Maintain the soil's moisture level until germination. Apply 1 inch of water to the established white clover when the plants begin to wilt.
- University of Minnesota Extension; How to Grow It/How to Eliminate It; Beth R. Jarvis; September 1998
- Colorado State University Extension Service; A Clover Lawn?; Robert Cox; Jan. 5, 2010
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service; Growing White Clover in Kentucky; M. Rasnake; February 1996
- Photo Credit Maria Teijeiro/Digital Vision/Getty Images
How to Grow Crimson Clover as a Cover Crop
Crimson clover is an annual ground cover that stores, or fixes, nitrogen. It grows easily, becoming weedy in some climates.