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Growing Clover instead of grass benefits the bees! Plus, it’s a low maintenance lawn.
Growing a Clover Yard Instead of Grass Lawns
Do you need to reseed the bare spots in your lawn? Have you got an area that’s been cleared, leveled and now needs to be planted in grass? Why not think about growing clover instead of a traditional grass lawn?
Planted clover always looks nice and lush and you don’t need to mow it as often. Heck, if you plant Dutch white clover, you don’t even need to mow it at all if you don’t want to. It typically only grows 4 inches tall or so.
One variety of broadleaf weeds, clover is a beautiful and versatile plant that will work great in your lawn! You can even plant a mixture of clover and grass to cover lots of ground and reap the benefits of both plants. Read on to learn more about clover vs. grass!
Best Clover For Lawns
There are three common varieties of clover that will do well as a yard cover. White clover, Red clover, and Strawberry clover are easy to find and all have generally the same benefits when planting a lawn.
One of the biggest benefits is that clover seed costs about $1 per 1,000 square feet, which makes it a great and inexpensive option for covering large areas. Grass seed can be expensive!
Clover grows well even in poor soil and most clover is drought resistant or drought tolerant. It will stay green even through warm and dry seasons when it’s exposed to long bouts of full sun.
Another benefit is that clover never needs fertilizer, and there’s rarely a need for using herbicide. Clover can attract beneficial insects like bees and wasps, which will both pollinate other plants and protect against insect pests like aphids, whiteflies, and scales.
Clover doesn’t do as well in areas with heavy foot traffic, so it may be a good practice to plant some grass along with the clover in high traffic areas. Otherwise, the benefits typically outweigh those of most turf grasses!
When Should I Plant Clover?
Clover is typically best planted in the spring, late summer, or early fall. Mid-March or mid-April is a good time to start looking to plant if you want to get the seeds down in the early spring, but depending on your climate you may also be able to plant as late as September or early October.
Why We Should Plant Clover for the Bees
You’ve probably heard about all the problems with the bee population decreasing severely. One way to do your part in helping the bees would be to plant things they love.
Planting lots of flowers will attract bees to your garden. You could plant a mix of perennial plants and annual plants – the bees will love them!
Clover and the Bee – Their Relationship
We NEED the bees. Do you have any idea what percentage of food plants that need bees in order to pollinate them?
Some sources say around 30% while others say it could be up to 85%. Either way, we need the bees.
Food that is Pollinated by Bees
Look at this article on bee pollination – if you read through it, you will see this partial list:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Pepper
- White Gourd
There are also about 30 different types of fruit on the list as well. Share it with anyone you think is interested in helping the bee population. And, think about planting clover for bees!
What Clover is Best For Bees
So, for us, when it comes time to plant any type of new lawn, we like to plant clover. It’s low maintenance and the bees will love the flowers (and happy bees mean less bee stings!).
When we built Graham’s shop, we had the land around it cleared and leveled. I was pretty specific in what I wanted there – Clover.
I was also specific in letting the machine guy know how I wanted the area finished off. What I needed was a level slightly sloping lawn area that wouldn’t need much maintaining from me.
He did such a great job with his machine! It was exactly what would work the best for us – easy drainage for melting snow. And easy maintenance when it came to mowing the lawn there.
After it was leveled, I walked around and threw down White Clover seed. Wonderful stuff, clover is. It smells absolutely divine when it’s in bloom. It attracts any bees that may be around.
This is a Win-Win. The clover is great for the bees and having more bees around our property means they will help with pollinating our garden fruits and vegetables.
What Clover is Best for Dogs?
The reason clover lawns are good when it comes to dogs is that dog urine is less likely to cause patches in clover than it is with classic grass lawns.
More Clover Lawn Benefits
Clover is also a wonderful green manure cover crop, so if there’s a portion of your existing lawn you will eventually want to turn into a garden, plant clover in there to begin with.
The Clover plant takes nitrogen from the air and puts nutrients into the soil. Clover is actually a nitrogen-fixing legume, which means it creates its own fertilizer and fertilizes other plants nearby as well.
If you plant mixed grass-clover lawns, the clover will naturally keep the grass healthy. The same is true of pure clover lawns.
Clover can also contribute to erosion control, as the roots go deep and promote aeration.
Read more about the benefits of sowing white clover here.
Here is that same area after planting in clover. I think it looks so pretty when it blooms! And the whole lawn is buzzing with bumblebees getting their fill.
Other possibilities for ground cover crops that we use ourselves is Buckwheat and Fall Rye. Granted, neither of these would work well as an alternative to lawn, but if you need to improve your soil, read our posts about them.
Plant clover for the bees and your vegetable garden will thank you!
So, think about throwing some Clover seed around. You’ll pretty up the place, it will smell wonderful and the bees will come abuzzin’.
And you can take comfort in the fact that running a lawn mower over it (or not) every three weeks or so will be an easy chore.
Growing clover instead of grass means a low maintenance lawn for you!
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originally published 2019; latest updated Sept 2022