How to plant a clover lawn

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You don’t have to water or fertilize them as much as regular lawns. Plus, they’re magical-looking.

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

“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 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 micro clover 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’ll officially be a grown up clover lawn. And don’t forget …

Maintain

clovers© GoodMood Photo/Shutterstock
You don’t need to water microclover as much as grass, and don’t even think about using herbicide on it. You can add fertilizer if you want, but clover is pretty good at keeping itself fertilized, since it naturally pulls nutricious nitrogren 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 clovers looking like a crowd of tiny green clones, mow about once a month.

If you really hate mowing, you can also look into growing lawns that don’t need it. There’s a kind of grass that flops over when it gets too long, making it look like waves on a gentle sea.

Happy gardening …





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