If you’re looking for a lawn alternative to traditional grass, you may want to consider a Dutch white clover lawn. Whether you prefer the look of a grass lawn and want to keep your lawn looking neat and simple or want to take landscaping to another level, Dutch clover can be a nice addition to your lawn or garden.
A lush and healthy lawn can make your property the talk of the town, but keeping your lawn properly maintained can also be a struggle, both physically and financially.
The cost of fertilizers, seed for overseeding, compost, and herbicides can really add up fast. So for some people, choosing low-maintenance alternatives that support pollinators and still look beautiful can help make large yard areas that you don’t use much a more manageable undertaking.
While seeding a lawn with clover isn’t for everyone, there are some benefits, so let’s dive in and learn more about this option!
What is Dutch White Clover?
Dutch clover, or Dutch white clover, is a slow-growing perennial plant that belongs to the legume family.
It prefers cool and moist climates, but it also grows well in sunny areas or places where there is little rainfall.
At its maturity, Dutch white clover usually grows three to five inches tall, making it a beautiful height to view from afar on large lot areas you don’t use frequently and may not want to constantly mow.
Another clover variation used in lawn maintenance is micro-clover, which is a smaller version of Dutch white clover.
What are the Benefits of a Dutch White Clover Lawn?
For years we’ve been told we should remove clover from our lawns, but lately quite a few lawn enthusiasts are switching to clover lawns, and it is easy to understand why.
Here are some of the advantages of having a clover lawn.
Less Water Consumption
Unlike grass that needs at least half an inch of water every week, Dutch clover is drought-tolerant and requires a small amount of water to survive.
It can keep its green color during summer, even when there is partial or no shade.
A Dutch clover lawn requires little to no mowing to look tidy and presentable. I’ve found it will usually grow up to 4” high and blooms little white flowers if left uncut.
Just like other legumes, clover takes nitrogen from the air and converts it to natural fertilizer when deposited in the ground. This means that it provides a constant source of fertilizer to itself and surrounding grasses and plants, reducing or eliminating the need for regular fertilization.
This ability also makes Dutch clover as an ideal ground cover substitute in low fertility soils.
Clover blooms are not just pleasant to the human eye, but they will also attract pollinator insects, such as honeybees. Clover also attracts parasitoid wasps, which are tiny insects that are harmless to humans but feed on pests like aphids and whiteflies that can wreak havoc to your garden plants.
While there are certainly benefits to supporting pollinators (after all, they make all of our food possible), if you have kids you may not be keen on having them roll around in a field full of bees.
If you don’t want any insects buzzing around your lawn, you can mow your lawn once a week or when you see the clover is starting to bloom. For me, I like clover for large fields that you don’t want to grow up high, but don’t use much and don’t want to mow often.
Great for Pets
Dutch clover can withstand heavy foot traffic, especially when mixed with grass. It is also resistant to pet urine.
If you’re a dog owner with lawn issues, you don’t have to worry about the dreaded brown patch from animal urine.
Clover leaves are tough and will stand up to your pets or kids playing or lounging on your lawn.
Recommended Dutch White Clover Seed
Here are a few of the most popular options you can check out if you’re shopping for Dutch White Clover seed:
- Outside Pride (Amazon link)
- SeedRanch (Amazon link)
- Nature’s Seed (Amazon link)
- West Coast Seeds (their Website)
When buying clover seed you’ll want to purchase and spread a minimum of 1 pound per 1,000 square feet (use one of these free tools to quickly measure your lawn size).
How Do You Plant a Dutch White Clover Lawn?
When creating your Dutch white clover lawn, it is best to plant the seeds during late spring or early summer. This gives them a chance to grow before the cold season arrives.
You can plant Dutch white clover on a new lawn. However, if you want it to grow faster, overseeding clover on your existing lawn may be a better option.
Here are the steps to follow if you’re establishing a new clover lawn:
1. Test the pH level of your soil.
Most clover varieties work well in soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0, but there are some which also thrive in soil with a pH level as high as 8.5. You can buy a soil testing kit online or at a local garden shop. I buy this one from Amazon and use it each spring.
If the soil’s pH level is too low, adding lime will help sweeten your soil and correct it. If the pH levels is too high, adjust the pH level by mixing peat or sawdust to the soil (you can use sulfur as well, but I find that these natural options work well and provide some nutrients to your soil at the same time.
Adjustments may take up to 6 months to take full effect, so it is ideal to do pH testing in advance before you start planting.
2. Get rid of unwanted plant growth.
Clover seeds can grow faster if there are no competing weeds or plant growth in the area. You may treat the area with weed treatments to remove any existing turf or weeds on your lawn.
Keep in mind that some treatments require up to two weeks of waiting time before you can plant new seeds. Otherwise, the weed treatment will prevent your clover seeds from germinating as well, so you could always consider solarizing your lawn.
3. Till and water the soil regularly.
Tilling the soil to a depth of about eight inches and watering it regularly will allow any weeds to regrow.
At that point you can remove them right before planting. You can use a spade or a small shovel to remove weed regrowth.
4. Plant the clover seeds.
Clover seeds are small and lightweight, so it is ideal to mix them with either unfertilized soil, sand, or sawdust so you can evenly distribute them across the ground. About one pound of clover seeds are needed per 1,000 square feet of ground, and you can calculate your square footage accurately with one of these online tools. This way you can be sure you’re ordering the right amount of seeds for your project.
Use a spreader, then work the clover seeds into your lawn soil using the back side of a leaf rake (with the tines facing up instead of down).
Make sure that that the seeds are not buried deep in the ground but are still covered with a thin layer of soil to keep the seeds in place (and the birds away). One quarter of an inch deep is plenty.
5. Water the seeds immediately.
Watering the seeds right after planting them will make them stick to the ground better and start the germination process.
When planting grass seed I usually recommend using a starter fertilizer, but you can skip the fertilizer with clover.
That’s because clover seeds can naturally produce fertilizer. Adding fertilizer to the soil will only encourage competing weeds and grasses to grow, instead of the clover.
6. Prevent foot and pet traffic.
Limit lawn activities and allow at least four weeks after planting to give the clover seeds enough time to establish a healthy root system.
At that point your new stand of clover can tolerate heavy foot traffic without issue.
7. Mow the ground occasionally.
Clover is low-growing and seldom requires any mowing. However, if you want to prevent bees from hanging around your lawn, then mowing once a month will help keep things look need and tidy.
If you wait a month you’ll get some flowers and seed heads and mowing and leaving the clippings will help spread that seed around to thicken up your new field of clover.
Overseeding a Dutch White Clover Lawn
Adding clover to an established lawn (also called overseeding) is the approach most people take when planting a Dutch clover lawn.
Overseeding Dutch white clover is basically the same as overseeding a lawn with grass, but there are a few tips to take note of.
- Overseeding doesn’t require you to start from scratch, but you have to cut and thin your lawn to allow room for clover to establish and grow.
- If you’re seeding with clover, use one pound of seeds per 300-600 square feet of lawn. This is a little more seed than if you’re starting from scratch, because you want your clover to replace your grass over time.
- Aerate your lawn or perforate it with small holes to allow air, water, and other nutrients to penetrate the soil.
- If you are seeding a wide area, you can use a broadcast spreader instead of spreading the seeds by hand.
- It is recommended to water the soil every day for two weeks to promote germination. Dutch White Clover should germinate within 7-10 days in an existing lawn.
- Cut back on nitrogen-based fertilizers and use ones with a ratio that favors phosphorous and/or potassium. You can also skip fertilizing when seeding clover if you want to – you’ll still have great results.
Is a Dutch White Clover Lawn Right for You?
If you’re thinking of taking part or all of your yard in a sustainable and eco-friendly direction, then creating a clover lawn may be for you.
A clover lawn closely mimics a traditional lawn. It is green and it covers the same ground area with low-growing vegetation.
But more importantly (and why many people choose clover), a clover lawn is easier to maintain and requires little resources like water, compost, or weeding.
With the above information, you can start planting and soon you will enjoy the beauty of a low-maintenance and self-fertilizing Dutch white clover lawn.