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Clover-in-the-Lawn-THUMB.jpg

Clover in the Lawn

My rather small backyard bluegrass lawn is being taken over by clover. The lawn is bordered by perennial flower gardens. Can I safely use some kind of weed killer on the lawn without causing damage to my flower gardens? The weeds seem impossible to control naturally.

Clover was once included in grass seed mixes as a nurse crop. These plants are able to fix and use nitrogen from the air. At some point we decided they were weeds that must be killed. Some gardeners have decided to embrace this plant and enjoy the benefits it provides. If I haven’t convinced you to let it be, let’s look at some control options.

The presence of clover can indicate a fertilization problem. Consider a soil test to find out the type and amount of fertilizer needed. A Memorial Day, Labor Day and Halloween fertilization schedule will help increase the health and vigor of the lawn and discourage the clover. One application at Halloween is needed for lower maintenance lawns.

If the weeds persist you may decide to use corn gluten meal. The University of Iowa found this material interfered with seed germination, including clover. A spring and fall application can help reduce the weed population by about 50% in three years.

If you decide to use a traditional chemical be sure to use one labeled to control difficult weeds like clover. Add a wetting agent (if not included in the spray) to help the weed killer cover the leaves and stick for better control.

Don’t treat the whole lawn, rather spot treat problem areas to minimize the use of chemicals and the risk to your perennials. Only apply weed killers and other chemicals on calm days to avoid inadvertently spraying non target plants and yourself.

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