White clover is a herbaceous, perennial weed found throughout Europe and the UK. It is sometimes referred to as Dutch Clover. It was initially introduced as a pasture crop, but has become common in grassy areas. For the majority gardeners it is unwanted on the lawn and has become a weed. However many gardeners are starting to embrace white clover and are learning to live with it. In fact some gardeners are starting to replace the grass with clover.
White clover is nitrogen fixing plant, meaning, it is able to draw nitrogen from the atmosphere and store it within the plant. White clover spreads via overground runners known as stolons. It can quickly develop in to large patches as it takes over and smothers the grass. It is another weed that can adapt to the height in which the lawn is being mown.
The distinct compound leaves are divided in to three (four if you are lucky) leaflets. they are generally dark green in colour with a white crescent band near the base of each leaflet.
The flowers are white clover appear in ball shaped clusters just above the leaves. They are white to pink in colour and appear from May to October. The many flowers produced white clover will attract bees, so care must be taken if small children frequently play on the lawn.
White clover is happy growing in a variety of soil conditions, especially moist, fertile soils. They don’t perform well in drought conditions and do not like being trampled on.
A few plant can be removed from the lawn by hand weeding.
Raking the weed into an upright position with a spring tine rake prior to mowing will severely weaken the weed, as they don’t like wear and disturbance. This practice will also help the mower to remove sections of the weed, again, weakening it and reducing the weed.
Maintain good turf health by maintaining adequate nutrition with a balanced feed program. Other lawn care tasks such as scarifying and aeration also play their part in keeping the grass in tip top shape, thus reducing the chance of weed invasion.
Selective weed killers are available for controlling white clover. One application is usually enough, however if it still persists after the initial treatment, a second application can be applied about 6 weeks later. There are a range of products on the market for white clover. Aim to treat the weed between April and September when growth is strong for optimum control.