Did you know that clover can revitalize your existing grass lawn? I’ve added clover to difficult areas of my own property with great success, so if you want to learn how to plant clover in existing lawn areas where traditional turfgrass struggles, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to discover my guide to planting clover on your property.
In today’s article I’ll start by talking about some of ways clover can benefit your grass lawn. You may already know some of this, but some of this information may reinforce your enthusiasm and get you excited for your project.
Next, I will discuss how to plant clover in existing lawn areas step-by-step and share tips to successfully overseed with clover and get a strong germination rate so you don’t waste any of that expensive seed.
Why Clover May Benefit Your Lawn
Clover has several potential benefits for your lawn. I’ve listed and explained each briefly below.
Clover Doesn’t Require Fertilization
Clover doesn’t need any kind of fertilization. In fact, it adds nitrogen to your lawn, effectively fertilizing the grass lawn you’re seeding it into.
I call that a win-win!
Rejuvenates the Grass
Adding clover to your lawn can rejuvenate your grass, fill in bare patches, and make the entire yard look healthier and more resilient.
More Resistant to Yellowing
If you have pets, you’re probably familiar with the dreaded pet spot. Clover is more resistant to turning yellow than grass.
Clover spreads very quickly once you plant it in your lawn. This means it can help crowd out undesirable broadleaf weeds without harming your desirable lawn grass.
Contrary to what you’ve probably heard, clover has no detrimental effect on grass. It can hold up better in overly shaded areas or areas that don’t have enough drainage for conventional grass to thrive, which is the type of locations where I use it on my property.
Clover Adds Nutrients into Your Lawn
The clover plant is a legume, and uses bacteria to pull nitrogen from the air into the soil.
That’s why having clover on your lawn acts almost as a sort of fertilizer. You may find you don’t even have to apply extra fertilization when you have lots of clover, as it delivers nitrogen from its roots to neighboring grass.
Clover is More Resilient Than Grass
Clover is able to do well even in adverse conditions. While it’s not drought-proof, you probably won’t have to worry about your clover during drought the same way you would a traditional grass lawn.
Clover will still retain its attractive green color even in the harshest parts of the summer months. Dutch white clover can look pleasant even when you don’t mow it very often as it grows pretty low.
I also just like the appearance of the tiny white flowers with this variety. These flowers can attract bees and other pollinators to your lawn and support them by providing a steady food source.
Types of Clover
The two types of clover we most commonly use on lawns are:
- Dutch clover, also known as white clover or dwarf clover. It’s a good choice for overseeding an exsiting lawn.
- Micro-clover, which is a newer variety of clover. It is the best choice to replace turfgrass, but you can seed it into an existing lawn as well.
You could also overseed with red clover, but it’s probably not as desirable as dutch white clover because it tends to grow taller and not look as dense.
I personally have had success with a grass seed/clover blend. These seeding blends have a mix of grasses and clover designed to work well together and blend seamlessly in color and growth habit.
Best Clover Blend for Overseeding
The Clover Seed Mix I Recommend
Ready to overseed your lawn with clover? I recommend Sunday’s Lucky Lawn clover and grass seed blend. It is a great quality micro clover seed mixed with fescue that blends seamlessly with most lawns.
A single 5 pound bag will overseed 2,500 square feet!
About Dutch White Clover
With white clover, you’re usually required to reseed once every two or three years. If you have white clover, it will thrive with as little as 4 to 6 hours of sun every day.
The seeding rate for white clover is approximately one pound for every 1,000 square feet.
Micro-clover is able to do quite well in shady conditions. With this kind of clover, you can mow it to a shorter length than you can with Dutch clover.
Micro-clover is better able to handle a greater amount of foot traffic than white clover. However, it has far fewer blooms.
You should be aware that micro-clover takes on a brown color during the winter when it goes dormant. The seeding rate for micro-clover is approximately one pound for every 300 to 600 square feet.
While older types of micro-clover may be relatively fragile, more recently created ones are more resilient in the face of stressors.
If you want to learn more about micro-clover, read my article on why you should consider planting a micro-clover lawn.
Steps for Overseeding a Lawn with Clover Seed
A balance of grass and clover can make your yard more beautiful, more resilient, lower maintenance, and healthier. I use Sunday’s Lucky Lawn blend of clover and grass seed in some tough areas of my property.
That is why I recommend overseeding your existing grass lawn with clover or a grass/clover mix every few years if you don’t mind the appearance of some clover in your yard (some people consider it a weed and want nothing but grass).
You’ll need to follow certain steps when overseeding your lawn with clover if you want to ensure a good germination rate (and do something other than feed the birds).
When deciding how much clover to use when using this plant for overseeding your lawn, you should consult with the manufacturer and/or ask lawn care professionals in your area to find out what would best suit your soil and climate conditions.
Preparing Your Lawn to Overseed
Before you overseed your existing grass lawn with clover seed, cut your lawn with the shortest setting of your lawn mower.
After that, use a quality dethatcher or thatch rake to get rid of any thatch and thin out the lawn. This is necessary so that the clover you’re planting has the room it needs to get established, and it helps to ensure good seed-to-soil contact when you spread your seed.
The Dethatcher I Use & Recommend
For lawns up to a half acre there’s one clear choice when it comes to dethatching tools. I recommend The Greenworks 27022 10AMP Electric Dethatcher.
It works really well and will pay for itself after a few uses when compared to renting a power rake.
Core aeration can also help to prepare your lawn for overseeding with clover seed. If you don’t have a core aerator, you can rent one at Home Depot or elsewhere. I have a guide on renting lawn equipment which may be helpful.
Aeration will help with compacted soil. When soil is compacted, it is extremely difficult for seed to grow within it.
Spread Clover Seed
Once you’ve mechanically loosened your soil, you must spread out the clover seed on your lawn. For small areas, just do this by hand, doing each small area individually.
For the larger spaces, using a broadcast spreader will help you get even coverage.
If you choose to use pure clover seed instead of a mix of clover seed and grass seed, it will probably help to mix some compost or sand as you spread it.
TIP: Once the seed is down, I like to use the back side of a leaf rake to work the seed down through the grass canopy and ensure it’s in good even contact with the soil to improve germination rate. Using the back side of the rake allows you to pass over the seed you’ve spread and maintain its placement so you don’t just rake the seed out of place and end up with a patchy seeding job.
It’s best to plant clover seeds after the weather begins to warm up in spring because soil needs to be warm enough for the seed to germinate.
If you plant clover at the end of the year, do so a minimum of two months prior to the first frost of the year.
Germination times for clover typically range from 10-15 days when soil temperatures are between 50 and 60 degrees.
I don’t recommend covering clover seed with more than 1/4 inch of screened compost or peat moss. Bury it too deeply and it won’t germinate.
If you’re seeding into an existing lawn, you may not need to cover the seed at all, but you may find that you lose more to birds if you don’t cover it, so that’s really a judgment call.
Top-dressing your lawn after seeding with a thin layer of organic matter will get you great results, but it’s a lot of work if you’re seeding a large area.
How to Ensure Good Germination of Your Clover Lawn
Keep your soil moist to ensure proper germination after spreading the clover seed. You’ll usually need to water daily for the first couple of weeks.
You can cut down on this a bit if there is plenty of rain. However, your clover will need more water if the weather is hot.
Under optimal conditions, you can expect to see the clover seeds sprouting within about a week to 10 days. In cooler temperatures or sub-optimal conditions, it can take about 15 days, so don’t worry if you don’t see anything by day 10.
As mentioned earlier, clover needs minimal maintenance. It doesn’t need to be cut as often as grass, and it never needs fertilizer.
However, you’ll have to be careful not to use any kind of herbicide on your lawn. If you do, it will probably kill the clover, as many people in the lawn care industry consider clover to be a weed.
Good Luck with Your Clover Seeding Project
Clearly, there are plenty of advantages to making clover part of your lawn.
If you’re a busy person like me, you’ll love how it’s a low-maintenance option for troublesome areas that can provide extra fertilization for your grass.
I also love to see the local bee population enjoying the nectar.
If you haven’t chosen a seed for your project yet, I do recommend the Lucky Lawn grass and clover blend I mentioned earlier. It’s a nice blend of grass and clover seed that work well together. And it has a natural limestone coating (no harsh chemicals) to help keep the seed moist and improve germination rate to help you establish a great clover lawn.