If you’re here, you probably already know that a white or red clover lawn can be a good replacement for a traditional grass lawn. It’s a cost-effective, easier-to-manage alternative to standard grass and you still get an attractive green space to enjoy. I have experience with red clover, so I’ll share what I know here.
In this article, I’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of having a red clover lawn instead of a turfgrass lawn, as well as tips for planting and caring for this kind of lawn.
I’ll also go over what homeowners can expect when it comes to maintaining a red clover lawn compared to a traditional grass turf lawn.
Why Consider a Red Clover Lawn
Red clover is just one of the types of clover that homeowners can choose from when seeding clover into an existing lawn.
Red clover tends to grow a bit taller than white clover and, unlike the white flowers that white clover varieties produce, red clover grows purple flowers.
Red clover also has larger seeds. This means that seeding red clover into an existing grass lawn can be easier to get right when compared to micro-clover or dutch white clover.
Advantages of a Red Clover Lawn
You never have to fertilize red clover, or any kind of clover, for that matter. This is because clover is a legume, or a “nitrogen fixer.”
This means that it extracts nitrogen from the air and brings it into the ground. This fertilizes the soil and the surrounding vegetation.
Red clover seed is much cheaper than grass seed. You can often purchase red clover seed for as little as $4 for every 4,000 square feet.
It also requires a lower long-term expenditure from you in terms of maintenance, products, and water.
Here are a few more of the benefits you’ll enjoy when you plant and maintain a red clover lawn:
Resistance to Drought
Red clover, like other kinds of clover, is resistant to drought. You won’t have to worry about watering it as often as a regular grass lawn.
Clover is resilient against the threat of pests. It is also able to grow and flourish even in poor-quality soil.
Helps Prevent Weed Growth
Clover will help stop unwanted weeds from growing in your lawn. It will out-compete all types of broadleaf weeds.
Less Frequent Mowing
You won’t have to mow clover very often. In fact, you may find you can mow as infrequently as twice per season.
Disadvantages of a Red Clover Lawn
Of course, red clover also has some disadvantages. Let’s take a look at the drawbacks of having a red clover lawn.
May Need Annual Replanting
If you live in a colder region, red clover may function is an annual. This means that you may have to replant it every year.
You May Dislike Purple
You may not like the look of the purple flowers that red clover grows.
Blooming Flowers Attract Bees
Like with other kinds of clover, the flowers on clover attract bees if you let them bloom. You can stop them blooming by mowing the lawn often enough.
Not Suitable for All Growing Conditions
While red clover is drought resistant, it’s important to point out that it can be difficult to grow red clover if you live in a region without a decent amount of rainfall. It’s not a drought-proof lawn alternative.
Prone to Fungal Diseases
Red clover is more prone than other kinds of clover to fungal diseases. The diseases that it can develop are quite easy to treat, but it can be an extra hassle, which is why many people choose dutch white clover instead.
Clover Will Need to be Replanted Regularly
Like red clover, white clover only lives about two years. This means that you will need to overseed your yard and re-plant it periodically.
As mentioned earlier, in some climates, such as those in the southern states of the United States, you will need to re-plant clover every year.
Tips for Planting and Caring for a Red Clover Lawn
In many regions, red clover does best when planted in either spring or autumn. If you’re in the northeastern regions of the United States, it’s probably best to plant red clover in the spring.
If you live in the southern United States, you should plant red clover in the fall.
It’s most common to plant red clover together with a grass, such as cool-season grasses like tall fescue.
If you live further south and use a warm-season grass, you may combine your red clover with it in an area that tends to get adequate moisture for most of the growing season.
Why You Might Want White Clover Instead of Red Clover
White clover does better than red clover in wet climates and conditions.
If you live in a region with a lot of rain, you may want to consider going with white clover instead.
Both White and Red Clover are Planted with Grass
Like red clover, white clover is most often planted together with traditional grass. It’s becoming quite common to find grass and clover mixtures that you can plant.
Some people use clover for overseeding their traditional grass lawns, to help make their lawns more resilient and lower maintenance.
Why White Clover is More Resilient than Red Clover
White clover is considered to be the most suitable choice if you want to create a lawn that’s predominantly clover.
But really, it’s the best choice if you just want to plant some clover as part of a majority-grass lawn.
This is because white clover can better deal with foot traffic and the heat of summer than other kinds of clover.
You should be aware, though, that every kind of clover, including white clover, needs an especially large amount of water in hot temperatures.
It’s drought tolerant, but when things dry out your clover lawn will look worse than most grass lawns unless you irrigate.
When you plant white clover, be aware that it can take a bit longer than you might imagine to get properly established.
And if, after weighing the pros and cons of a clover lawn, you decide to create a completely clover lawn instead of a combination of clover and grass, you should give the soil very little extra nutrition. That is because clover is able to create its own nutrition by drawing nitrogen from the air and bringing it down to the soil and roots.
And one final reason many people choose white clover vs red clover for their lawn is that most people prefer the white flowers of white clover to the purple flowers of red clover.
Why Should You Plant Clover in Your Lawn?
A major benefit of planting clover for your lawn is that it’s better for the environment than traditional grass.
If you don’t want a full clover lawn, consider incorporating clover into your grass lawn through using a combination mixture seed or overseeding clover in the spring or fall.
While some people enjoy red clover, most prefer the look and benefits of white clover.
With both kinds of clover, you will not have to cut your lawn as often as with traditional turfgrass. However, if you want to reduce the number of bees coming to your property, you should cut the clover before it flowers.