How to Plant a Clover Lawn

Clover requires less water and fertilizer than grass; plus, it's magical looking.

Sun shines on a field of clover flowers

 

Annie Otzen / Getty Images

Amy Cox remembers the first time she learned she could grow a lawn out of clover.

"Where has this been all my life?" she mused. "Why is this a secret?"

Cox is a partner at Pro Time Lawn Seed, an alternative lawn business in Portland, Oregon that sells seeds for clover and other plants to make eco-friendly, low maintenance lawns. Her company helps not just individuals, but also colleges, cities, and states plant unconventional lawns and parks.

"We’re up 86 percent this year from last year," she told me. "That’s been steadily happening over the last four years. It’s kind of an 'organic' growth."

Clover is becoming popular because it looks magical but doesn't require as much care as regular lawns. Since it doesn't need fertilizer or much water, it's also good for the planet. Plus, it's tough.

"Soccer pitches are using it in areas that get the most wear," Cox told me. "We love it in our dog park mix."

If you're wondering what it would take to turn your grassy lawn into a clover meadow, I've got you covered.

Decide What to Plant

clovers
KAMChokE / Shutterstock

If you already have a lawn, you can just add clover to it — no need to rip out all the grass. Of course, that's up to you. Pure microclover lawns look gorgeous, Cox assures me. But many people like to mix different plants together.

"If you happen to plant clover with other plants, it will fertilize them as well," Cox said. "That's one of the things I love about it."

Besides, it's easier to keep a mixed lawn healthy.

"Microclover by itself is a monoculture," she pointed out. "If something were to happen to it, there’s really nothing else to help carry on."

Prepare the Soil

soil in hands
bluedog studio / Shutterstock

This bit's a little open-ended. You can start from scratch or add clover seeds to your already existing lawn. If you've got grass thatches in your lawn, you might want to rake them out.

"Core aeration is always good for a lawn, especially one with compacted soil," Cox said.

You can use lime, compost, fertilizer, or whatever else you want to make the soil as ready for action as possible.

Aim to plant sometime after it starts warming up and at least a couple months before the first frost. So think late spring through summer.

Toss the Seeds

plant seeds
Banderchenno / Shutterstock

Finally, the fun part. You're like the flower girl at a wedding, except instead of throwing dying flowers around, you're planting unborn ones.

Walk north and south, dropping a line of seeds as you go (don't bury them). Then walk east and west as you drop more seeds, so you crisscross the lawn.

Water

watering can
Osetrik / Shutterstock  

Microclover doesn't need much water once it's growing strong, but baby microclovers could use a little extra love. For the first month or two, make sure the soil stays moist.

Keep Off

Don't step, walk your dog, or throw a rave on the area until the clovers are a few inches tall. Once your lawn goes through a winter, it will officially be a grown-up clover lawn. And don't forget ...

Maintain

bright green field under blue sky
 

You don't need to water microclover as much as grass, and don't even think about using an herbicide on it. You can add fertilizer if you want, but clover is pretty good at keeping itself fertilized since it naturally pulls nutritious nitrogen out of the air.

As you may have surmised, clover lawns need way less care than regular grass lawns. But you still can't just let them grow wild and expect them to look postcard-perfect (of course, if you like wild lawns, go for it).

To keep your clover looking like a crowd of tiny green clones, mow about once a month.

For more information, visit Pro Time Lawn Seed.