How to Sow Clover Seeds

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Clover roots are tiny nitrogen factories that feed the soil they grow in.
Clover roots are tiny nitrogen factories that feed the soil they grow in. (Image: grass and clover image by Janet Wall from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>)

Growing clover adds an old-fashioned touch to a lawn or other grassy area. Considered an invasive plant, wild clover sends out roots that spread quickly and eventually produces new plants over a wide area. Its nitrogen-rich properties make it a valuable soil booster for other plants. Sowing clover is as simple as sowing grass seed and can be done when establishing a new lawn or filling in bare spots in an old lawn. The best time to do this is in the spring so that the roots will have time to develop before the cold sets in. Be sure the soil has a pH of 6 or 6.5. Test your soil or have it tested before you sow the clover seed.

Things You'll Need

  • White clover seed
  • Hand-held seed spreader
  • Lime
  • Garden hose
  • Water

Method

Add lime to the soil to adjust the pH level to between 6 and 6.5. Lime brings an acidic soil to a more neutral pH level that clover prefers. Buy a test kit from a garden center or send a soil sample to your state's extension service for testing to determine its pH level. Rake the area to be sown if it is bare ground, or mow the grass and rake away the clippings on an existing lawn.

Set the seed spreader at the lowest setting for the smallest seeds, which is the first setting on most small spreaders. Fill the spreader with seed according to the directions that came with the spreader.

Spread the seed across the entire area to be seeded, moving in a criss-cross fashion to distribute the seed as evenly as possible. Add either soil or fine sand to the clover seed in the spreader if is being broadcast too thickly.

Tamp the newly seeded areas down by either walking on them or using a roller. Water the area thoroughly and then every day for 10 ten days.

Mow the lawn at a low setting after sowing, and then again after the first clover seedlings appear to allow more light to reach them. Mow at a higher setting once the clover plants are established.

Tips & Warnings

  • While beautiful and aromatic, red clover does not do well in lawns because it is destroyed by frequent mowing. It's best used to establish a meadowlike lawn that will not be mowed or will be mowed only occasionally.
  • Clover seed needs full sunlight to grow but can tolerate some shade. Shade-tolerant varieties are available.
  • Clover seeds can be sown while the ground is still partially frozen, because the seeds will sink into cracks as the soil thaws. Early spring is the best time to plant them, because they won't get any competition from grass or other plants.
  • Hand-held spreaders are available at many hardware stores and garden centers or online. Clover seed can also be sown by hand if a spreader isn't available. Buy an inexpensive condiment shaker similar to those used in pizza parlors for grated cheese to spread seed on small areas.

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