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Removing Clover?

 
                          
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We recently bought an older home with a beautiful front lawn. The only exception is that there are two areas with substantial clover growth.
I put down a good weed and feed about a month ago. What can you recommend as the clover seems to be spreading?
Thanks!
 
paul wheaton
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First, I really, really, really don't want you to use the weed and feed again.  I can help you get everything you want from a lwan, just please, please, please don't use the toxic gick.

Okay ...  clover is a legume - which means that it has a trick where it can get nitrogen (a vital plant nutrient) from the air as well as from the soil.  Grass is a nitrogen pig - but can only get it's nitrogen from the soil.  Therefore, wherever you have lots and lots of clover, that soil is probably devoid of nitrogen. 

Fertilizer (such as the organic "ringer" brand stuff) brings nitrogen to the soil.  When there is plenty in the soil, grass easily outcompetes clover.


 
                                  
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We are thinking of replacing our "lawn" with clover completely.  I've read a lot of information about how much better for the environment this is.  The clover sets it's own nitrogen (no fertilizer) and it doesn't require a lot of mowing (fewer resources used and fewer emissions from mowers) and it requires a lot less water than traditional grass lawns.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this idea.  Of course if you live in a subdiivision where everyone else is spraying to kill the clover you might get some dirty looks.
 
paul wheaton
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I've never heard of anyone doing this.  Sounds cool!  Let us know how it turns out!
 
Gerry Miller
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Location: Midlothian, IL Zone 5
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In the 1950's, all lawns had Dutch White Clover seed mixed with your grass seed. All good healthy lawns included clover.  Since clover can fix nitrogen from the air, you never needed to fertilize.

After the World War II, all these munition plants needed a new market for their product. The big chemical companies started a marketing blitz, promoting the idea that clover was a weed and should not be part of your lawn. They just happen to have the chemical to remove this weed.  Now, after you have removed the clover, you now have to fertilize your lawn and they just happen to have the chemicals to do it!!!  What a deal, now you can pay to fertilize your grass instead of it being free from the clover. The marketing continues today.

I don't know about a complete clover lawn, but I see no reason for it not to work. Just make sure it Dutch White Clover due to it shorter growing height and the fact that it is a perennial.  It does require less maintenance than a regular lawn with less watering needed. You never have to fertilize, and if you keep it cut properly, it will look uniform and stay green all year. It improves your soil and keeps it aerated naturally.  The clover does attract bees when flowering, so you have a built in way to keep kids off your lawn!!! What a country!

Gerry Miller
 
                            
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So can clover be used between farm crops to provide nitrogen? Do you know and farmer who is doing this?

Kiran
http://www.organicfacts.net
 
Gerry Miller
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Location: Midlothian, IL Zone 5
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Actually certain types of clover are used as a crop cover that grows and improves the soil, then is turned over and seed crop planted. It's called a green manure.

"Green manuring" involves the soil incorporation of any field or forage crop while green or soon after flowering, for the purpose of soil improvement. A cover crop is any crop grown to provide soil cover, regardless of whether it is later incorporated. Cover crops are grown primarily to prevent soil erosion by wind and water. Cover crops and green manures can be annual, biennial, or perennial herbaceous plants grown in a pure or mixed stand during all or part of the year. In addition to providing ground cover and, in the case of a legume, fixing nitrogen, they also help suppress weeds and reduce insect pests and diseases. When cover crops are planted to reduce nutrient leaching following a main crop, they are often termed "catch crops."

http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/covercrop.html

For more information, check out that site.

Gerry Miller
 
paul wheaton
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kiran224 wrote:
So can clover be used between farm crops to provide nitrogen? Do you know and farmer who is doing this?

Kiran
http://www.organicfacts.net


Gobs of farmers do this!

When I was a wee lad of 16, I worked the pea and wheat harvests around the oregon/washington border.  The pea crops would build the soil - and produce peas.  The wheat crops would deplete soils. 

And if you mean something else by "between":  Many apple orchards have heaps of legumes growing between the trees.  Of course, the trees then compete with the legumes for water and some other nutrients.  But I've always thought that peas might make a good intercrop:  if they were overseeded, they would provide a thick mat, choking out the weeds.  And then as they die in mid summer, they would release nitrogen and OM to the soil.  They would also stop competing with the tree for water during the summer, while mulching the tree for the rest of the summer.  If an apple should fall from the tree, it would have a soft landing on the dried pea vines.




 
                                  
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Thanks so much, Gerry.  It's taken me a while to get back here (it was actually Paul's e-mail regarding the iron skillets - thanks Paul).  That's a great piece of knowledge about the white clover going out of style.  I actually remember there being a lot of white clover in my parents' lawn when I was a kid back in the 70's.  Now it's only in the backyard as my dad has the front lawn ChemLawned   I'm still planning to buy clover seed, but it will have to wait until spring. 
 
                              
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in reply to thereplaceing with clover, my neighbor did it some 5 years bck and loves it. he does not mow it, just leaves it alone.
 
paul wheaton
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How does the clover stand up to people walking on it?

Are there weeds?
 
                              
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No weeds at all, that I've seen just the odd leprechaun. Its not in a walked in area and its quite high. i guess its set up as less of a lawn and more of a cover.
 
rachael hamblin
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One problem I could foresee is clover blossoms attracting bees, with people then stepping on them....are there varieties of clover for which this wouldn't be a problem?  We're now thinking about doing this with our lawn. 
 
              
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Like ljrphoto, I remember a lot of clover in our yard when I was a kid. 
I don't think I would like to completly replace my lawn with clover, but I think it would be nice to mix some clover into my lawn.  Would speading seed over the lawn work, or would some other step need to be done to make sure they germinate?

I did a quick google, and a 1/4 pound bag of Dutch White Clover on ebay for $2.79.  That is supposed to plant about 2,722 square feet.  WAY more than I would need to mix some clover into my yard.


 
paul wheaton
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The problem is that if you have a thick, healthy turf, the seeds will germinate and then they will die from not getting enough light. 

If you have a crappy lawn, they do have a better chance of getting started.

 
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