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7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t
Overlook Clover as a Groundcover
As we approach lawn season, and in honor of St. Paddy’s Day, let’s take a look at an often-overlooked option: Clover!
Here are seven reasons why you may wish to consider this grass alternative for your landscape:
#1. It Can Be Drought-Resistant
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “Clover is an extremely drought-resistant plant and will keep its cool-green color even during the hottest and driest parts of summer.” But, in reality, that depends on the variety you choose. There are actually 95 species of clover in the U.S. alone, and some require more irrigation than others.
A good choice for Wyoming and higher elevations is dwarf white clover (Trifolium repens), which grows just 3 to 6 inches tall as a spreading mat. White dwarf thrives in both sun and part shade, in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 10 – so it’s highly adaptable. It’s also considered less invasive than many other varieties.
For even higher elevations—up to 11,000 feet—dwarf clover (Trifolium nanum) is what you want. This extremely hardy plant is able to thrive under the harshest conditions. It grows in dense mats to survive dry, rocky environments.
#2. It’s Less Expensive Than Grass
Clover seed is very inexpensive. In fact, it costs only about $4.00 per 4,000 square feet. With a drought-resistant variety, you’ll also save on water costs. And it requires virtually no maintenance.
Finally, if you’ve been fighting it as a “weed,” you can stop. Let it grow—it’s yours for free!
#3. It Improves Your Soil—Naturally!
Clover is a legume, which means it absorbs nitrogen from the air and returns it to the soil as a useful fertilizer. If you’re adding it to a lawn, it will work to fertilize the existing lawn. In fact, white clover is often mixed with lawn seed to reduce or eliminate the need for nitrogen fertilizer
In addition, clovers produce a combination of tap roots and fibrous roots that help aerate the soil and loosen soil texture. Clovers can also protect the soil from wind and water erosion. Farmers often use it as a cover crop because the decomposing plant adds large amounts of organic matter to the soil.
#4. Clover Blooms Attract Pollinating Insects
Wyoming Master Gardener Richard Steele prefers clover over grass because it’s mowable, takes less water, and it feeds his bees, which provide him with honey.
Honeybees love this sweet little herb-like plant, which is why “clover blossom honey” is one of the most widely available and popular types of honey. In addition, clover attracts adult butterflies, and also serves as a host plant for the larva of various butterfly species.
Insect pollinators have become increasingly important in recent years. By replacing your grass lawn with this more pollinator-friendly alternative, you’ll be doing your part to protect them. They, in turn, will help pollinate your garden. It’s a win-win!
#5. It’s Mowable
If you’re concerned about attracting too many bees to your yard (although honeybees rarely when unprovoked and away from their hives), you can always mow it all or part of it when in bloom.
On the other hand, clover can be mowed very infrequently, if you so choose – as little as twice a season. White clover grows just 2 to 8 inches tall, depending on the variety. In midsummer you may wish to mow in order to deadhead old blooms and neaten the appearance.
#6. It Doesn’t Need Toxic Chemicals
Clover has a dense root structure, allowing it out-compete virtually all other broadleaf weeds. No need for expensive herbicides. Or pesticides…Not only does hardy little plant stand up well to insect pests, it also attracts parasitoid wasps which feed on aphids, scales, and whiteflies – but are harmless to humans.
#7. You’ll Have a “Barefoot Lawn”
A clover lawn feels great on bare feet: soft, lush and cool. Walking barefoot on clover is a treat for your feet. And its leaves and blossoms provide a mild, pleasant fragrance.
Featured Image: Pixabay