Dutch White Clover Lawn

How (and why) to Plant a Dutch White Clover Lawn

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.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

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.

Mowing, fertilizing, and treating weeds on your lawn by yourself can take up a lot of time and money, especially if you have a large yard.

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!

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What is Dutch White Clover?

Dutch clover, or Dutch white clover, is a slow-growing perennial plant that belongs to the legume family.

Dutch White Clover
Trifolium repens (Dutch White Clover)

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 four to eight 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.

Benefits of a Dutch White Clover Lawn

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.

Low Maintenance

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.

Attracts Pollinators

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. 

Dutch White Clover is Good for Pollinators

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.

Reasons to Plant a Dutch White Clover Lawn

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:

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.

According to Dr. Dennis Hancock, a Forage Extension Specialist in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Georgia, “White clover is well-suited for use as a companion to tall fescue or orchardgrass.” He explains that you can plant this clover “along with cool season perennial grasses in new plantings or can be established into existing grass stands.” 

When it comes to planting recommendations, Dennis advises that “clover seeding rates should be reduced by 25% when used in new plantings with a cool season perennial grass. In most cases, it is best to interseed the legumes after the grass stand is well-established.” 

Here are the steps I recommend you 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.

You May Have to Test Your Soil and Adjust the pH for Dutch White Clover

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.

Dutch White Clover Seed

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.

Outside Pride sells a quality Dutch White Clover seed (Amazon link) and West Coast Seeds does also (direct link to their seeds).

Expert Tips for Success

Dr. Dennis Hancock recommends that you use a seeding rate of “2 [to] 3 lbs of white clover per acre.” If you’re seeding the clover “into tall fescue sods in the fall, closely graze or clip the grass before planting. On thick sods, some seedbed preparation … may be needed to thin the sod and to improve the vigor of the clovers during establishment.” 

I find that core aeration or dethatching prior to overseeding clover works well.

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.

Clover Seedlings

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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Aerate your lawn or perforate it with small holes to allow air, water, and other nutrients to penetrate the soil.
  4. If you are seeding a wide area, you can use a broadcast spreader instead of spreading the seeds by hand.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Is a Dutch Clover or Dutch White Clover Lawn Right 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.

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Additional Resources
  • White Clover by Millie Davenport, Clemson University Cooperative Extension HGIC (link)
  • White Clover by Dr. Dennis Hancock, University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences (link)
  • Dutch White Clover: Alternative Lawns – Ground Cover Species by Iowa State University Extension (link)


Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

6 thoughts on “How (and why) to Plant a Dutch White Clover Lawn

  1. Matthew Buckley

    Hi Sarah. Will Dutch White clover over seeded in an existing lawn eventually overtake and eliminate established areas of crabgrass? Thanks, Matt

    • Hey, Matthew!

      Great question. The answer is yes (sort of).

      Over time Dutch White Clover will create a nice dense ground cover, that prevents annual crabgrass seeds from germinating by blocking the sunlight they need to grow. If you have established areas of crabgrass and spread dutch white clover in that area it certainly won’t be able to push out an existing stand, but within a few years, it should fill in nicely.

      If you’re opposed to using harsh chemicals to knock out your crabgrass and give your clover a head-start, you can try Corn Gluten Meal as an organic pre-emergent. Once your clover stand is planted, treat areas that are plagued by crabgrass by spreading corn-gluten meal in the spring before soil temperatures reach 50 degrees. This natural pre-emergent will block the annual crabgrass seeds from germinating until your clover is flourishing and filling in. This method will help accelerate your timeline for the clover to overtake and crowd out crabgrass.

      Just remember that pre-emergent applications will block most seeds from germinating, including clover … so you’ll want to do this the spring after you’ve established your clover stand in the area, which will buy it time to fill in during the spring when you delay that season’s crabgrass germination.

      I’ve used Espoma’s (Amazon link) with good results.

      Hope this helps!

  2. A Schiebout

    My lawn’s first crop is dandelions, which I mow about three times. The clover is up and growing now, but should I mow the clover when it gets a certain height? The white blossoms are on and it looks a bit brown on the edges, not that I care.

    • Yes, you can definitely mow if you want to!

      Dutch White Clover will typically stay pretty low-growing, but if you have a different variety or simply want to provide a fresh flush of blooms for pollinators mowing it will take care of that – your clover will quickly produce more blooms and fill in with fresh growth.

  3. Carissa

    I have a very large area of sandy/rocky soil that I would like to get a clover lawn established on. What do I need to do to prepare the soil other than screen out the rocks?

    • Hey, Carissa!

      Clover is pretty forgiving, so beyond the steps outlined in this article I’d just be sure that you:

      1. loosen the soil before you broadcast the seeds (this helps those young roots penetrate – if you’re raking larger rocks you’re probably covered),
      2. use the back side of a leaf rake to run over the seeds to ensure even distribution and good soil contact,
      3. add a thin 1/4″ layer of compost, peat moss, or topsoil to help keep the seeds moist and protect them from hungry birds, and
      4. sow at a slightly higher rate than the seed company recommends. There’s always some bare areas with incomplete germination, and sowing a little more helps to hedge against that.

      As I said, clover is really forgiving, the biggest thing is ensuring good soil contact and keeping the seeds moist in the early going. I’d water lightly (to prevent run-off) 2-3 times daily for the first week, then start to water less frequently and more deeply once germination occurs and those seedlings start to grow. That will force them to “reach” down into the soil with deeper roots to seek out that moisture. Try 2-3x daily prior to germination, 2x daily post germination, daily/deeply once they are 2″ tall, and then start to decrease the frequency over the next few weeks, continuing to water deeply.

      This guide to watering seedlings may help (it’s for grass, but the same rules apply here).

      Good luck!

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