How to Get Rid of Clover in Lawn | Kill Clover in Flower Beds

There are roughly 255 different species of clovers in the world, and many of them are waiting to get into your lawn. Clovers are some of the more obnoxious weeds that can pop up through a lawn or a flower bed. While everyone may enjoy finding a four-leaf clover for good luck, not every gardener rejoices to find their beloved lawn and borders overcome by clovers.

If a sea of clover isn’t your thing and you’ve been struggling with how to get rid of clover in lawns or flower beds, then this article will help you ‘root’ it out. Read on for some crucial information on how to become a professional clover killer whilst still preserving your lawn.

How To Get Rid Of Clover In Lawns

Thankfully, there are a good many ways to get rid of clover on your lawn. Consider the following for some quick and easy ways to tame the weeds and get your lawn to its full glory.

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Killing Clover Without Destroying Grass

There are various ways to get rid of clover without destroying your lawn completely. If you are looking for a totally natural, organic method without the use of chemicals when hand pulling the weeds is an option. This is likely to cause temporary disruption to the aesthetics of the grass as you’ll be left with bald patches that will require sowing new grass seed and waiting for it to grow.

On the other hand, using selective herbicides can effectively rid your lawn of clover without destroying your lawn at all. Often, these methods can even enhance the health and vibrancy of grass.

It is important to avoid non-selective varieties of herbicide as these will not only destroy unwanted clover, but also everything else it comes into contact with including your previous lawn and flower beds, veg patches, borders, and even trees and shrubs.

Weed And Feed Schedule

A highly effective tool in any gardener’s arsenal is weed and feed. These are products that combine rich fertilizers to your grass and other plants while also mixing in herbicides that kill common weeds.

Using weed and feed is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. The fertilizer will help make sure that beneficial plants like your grasses and flowers grow as well as you need them to. At the same time, the herbicide takes care of pesky weeds, with brands containing different active ingredients in order to target specific weeds.

The best way to use weed and feed is to keep a schedule. Regularly feeding your yard is a great way to keep your grass strong and weeds weak. Generally speaking, four times a year should be enough, though this can vary depending on your climate, species of grass, and persistence of weeds.

Spray Herbicides For Clover

Clover is a common enough weed that many herbicides are made specifically with them in mind. An excellent way to combat clover is to purchase a clover-killer herbicide. Providing you use a selective herbicide you can use a spray clover killer to spot-treat small patches of clover in your lawn.

In addition, spray clover can be used if clover has begun to grow from cracked paving, driveways, or gravel paths.

Best Time To Spray Clover In Lawns

It’s best to spray clover in the early spring, as this is when the weed is emerging most. However, some types of clover will sprout at other times, such as white clover during fall. Many others will be a nuisance year-round, so do some research to see how best to handle your specific species of clover.

In terms of the time of day, you should spray clover before it gets too hot out. High temperatures can cause the herbicide to evaporate away or dry too quickly. This means that early morning near sunrise is a great time to spray the clover invading your lawn.

How Often To Apply Clover Killer

Clover killer doesn’t need application too frequently. If you’re lucky, you may not need to reapply the herbicide at all, with one application being enough to handle the weeds.

The chances are that you’ll need at least two applications, though, as clover is exceptionally persistent. Expect to spray every six weeks as long as the clover persists.

Best Clover Killer For Lawns

With so many herbicides on the market, you’re going to need to know that you’re using a brand that contains an active ingredient that specifically targets clover. Here are a couple of suggestions that I’ve used to successfully wrangle clover herbicides from my lawn.

Hi Yield 2,4-D Herbicide Spray

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Hi-Yield 2,4-D Herbicide Spray is one of the most effective and affordable herbicides on the market. This selective weed killer takes care of broadleaf weeds and other invasive weeds including clover, as well as dandelions, arrowheads, goatsbeards, and aster. 

2,4-D is the active ingredient in Hi-Yield that is used in many branded selective herbicides. In fact, 2,4-D kills clover, dandelions, and many other broadleaf herbs very effectively.

2,4-D is available in liquid, powder, or granule formations depending on how you wish to administer it. Just make sure you use and adhere to all of the manufacturer’s recommended safety instructions for use and always exercise proper safety protocols before handling this chemical. While entirely safe to use when done correctly, misuse can cause damaging effects to people and pets, as well as fish and wildlife.

Scotts Turf Builder Weed Killer & Preventer

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In terms of a specific brand, I would suggest Scotts Turf Builder for a strong and effective weed controller. As the name suggests, this mixture kills weeds, prevents others from growing, and feeds your lawn in the process.

Products such as this are great if clover is a present problem but not your only problem. Using Scott’s, you can more easily deal with nuisances such as daisies, plantain, chickweed, dollarweed, and dandelion. Other plants like crabgrass will struggle to grow, though this product will not kill it outright.

To apply, wet your lawn thoroughly and spread the mixture. Once done, let the lawn soak in the mixture over 24 hours and then water again. It’s best to apply this product in the early spring to stop dandelions in their tracks and chase away clovers that are trying to spread roots.

How To Kill Clover Naturally Without Chemicals

There are many drawbacks to using chemicals, and many of us may prefer to handle clover without using them. If you’d like to kill clovers without having to spread chemicals across your lawn, consider the following methods.

Pull Clover By Hand

For a minor case of clover infestation, you can pull them out by hand or by using a weed puller. The best way to do this is to catch them early before they’ve had a chance to spread too thoroughly.

Use a pair of thick work gloves to avoid pests and irritation. Carry something to properly dispose of the clovers, such as a bag in which you can store them. Make sure that you aren’t just ripping them out and throwing them around in the dirt – they’ll just root again.

If your clovers have spread enough, this will be an arduous task. Clover spreads fast and thick and can intertwine with grass quickly. For more severe infestations, pulling clover out with your hands will take a tremendous amount of time and possibly cause more harm than good.

Organic Herbicide

If you have pets in your house, using specific methods of killing clover and other weeds can be dangerous. Spreading chemicals around the yard the family dog runs around and plays in can drastically affect their health. Fish especially are vulnerable to the dangers of herbicides, making it difficult to use weed killers near a pond or fish habitat.

To handle this, look into organic and pet-safe clover killers. In addition, consider these two excellent pet-safe choices to deal with your clover problem.

Corn Gluten Meal

Corn gluten has become highly popular as an organic way to handle weeds. Corn gluten works by stopping seeds from forming roots, making it useful as a pre-emergent weed killer that can be used to prevent weeds from germinating or emerging. If your lawn already has clover, corn gluten meal will not help.

Timing is vital when using corn gluten meal, and some conditions may make it impossible to use. For example, if it’s too wet after germination, the cornmeal will not stop the seeds from sprouting fully. 

Because of these issues, using corn gluten meal as your only herbicide is not advisable. Instead, it’s best if you use it with other herbicides and weed controllers. With proper application, corn gluten meal is fantastic at stopping weeds from ever taking hold in your lawn.

Corn gluten has the additional benefit of being nutritious for your lawn. Corn gluten meal is about 10% nitrogen by weight which works as a great natural fertilizer to keep your grass or flowers healthy. It’s worth noting that clover thrives on high nitrogen and often corn gluten is used as a clover fertilizer when trying to achieve clover fields. It is worth avoiding if you already have established patches of clover in your lawn that you are trying to get rid of.

Horticultural Vinegar

Horticultural vinegar has become a known alternative to many herbicides, especially as an alternative to glyphosate. Vinegar is much less harsh than chemicals but is still strong enough to kill most weeds, especially clover.

Herbicidal horticultural vinegar is stronger than the average household vinegar, having between twice and four times the acetic acid. When this substance makes contact with plants, rapid breakdown and desiccation of the foliage tissue occur.

Needless to say, this can also affect non-weed plants. Exercise caution when using this around flowers or crops, as horticultural vinegar can adversely affect all plant life. Furthermore, horticultural vinegar also only destroys what it touches, leaving roots healthy and letting them regrow without much of a fight.

Cover Up And Deprive Of Sunlight

Depending on your situation, it may be possible to simply smother out the clover. Persistent weed or not, clover is still a plant, and plants need sunlight to survive.

For smaller areas, consider using a tarp or other large covering to spread over the clover. Doing so will stop sunlight from reaching them, depriving them of food and life. It may take some time to entirely kill the clover using this method, as it relies on them naturally dying out from starvation.

Again, exercise caution when doing this method, as this can kill your plants as well. Grass will need sunlight, as will all of your flowers. Techniques such as this are best if the clover is the only weed in the area you’re covering, and you’re attempting to stop it from spreading.

Household Clover Killers

Vinegar isn’t the only method of stopping plants from growing. You can use several different home remedies to control or kill clover.

For example, one remedy is as simple as boiling water. Bring water to boil in whatever manner you see fit – the hotter, the better, so a stovetop is best. Pour this water into a metal watering can (plastic isn’t advisable due to the high temperature).

You can then pour this water on the weeds directly. The high temperature of this water is harmful to plants, so be careful not to burn things that you’d like to keep intact. Boiling water is an effective method for crabgrass, nutgrass, clover, and many other weeds.

You can also use only vinegar and dish soap and leave out the water. The dish soap will assist the vinegar in sticking to the plants, letting it kill off the tissue more quickly. Afterward, go to the dead clover and pull it out of the ground, making sure that you get the root system as well.

How To Prevent Clover Growing In Lawns

Now that you know how to get rid of clover in your lawn once it’s set in, how do you stop it from forming in the first place? Consider these methods of keeping clover from ever finding an inch of land in your gorgeous yard.

Grow Healthy Thick Grass

The easiest method is simple and one you’ll likely be doing anyway – have a healthy lawn. Healthier lawns will consume more nutrients and be tougher against weeds. 

For clover, in particular, the weed thrives in lawns that don’t have enough nitrogen due to its ability to produce its own. Low nitrogen will also make your yard less healthy. The two factors in combination make your yard weaker and clover stronger, giving clover a considerable boost in growth.

To counter this, monitor the nitrogen levels in your lawn frequently. Maintaining the correct levels is the best way to stop clover from ever arriving.

Mow Longer Grass On Lawn

Clover is a short weed that stays close to the ground. That makes it great in yards that have shorter grass as well. If the grass is short, the clover can grow taller than the grass itself and effectively choke it out.

To counteract clover’s strangling tendencies, do your best to keep your grass high. Never mow your grass less than three inches tall to help stop clover from getting a foothold. By maintaining high grass, your lawn stays healthy while clover isn’t able to overtake it.

Do Not Let Clover Flower & Seed

When dealing with clover, it’s vital to stop it from reproducing and spreading. The best way to do this is usually by smothering it out.

Herbicides are good for this, but another great fix is to keep a thick layer of mulch. It isn’t practical to do this for an entire yard, but covering the bottom of a flower bed in mulch is a much easier task. Doing so gives clover a much worse area to reproduce while also looking aesthetically pleasing for your beds.

Apply Pre-Emergent Herbicide

Whether using corn gluten meal or a chemical herbicide, it is vital that you stop clover from emerging. Consider supplementing your lawn care routine with pre-emergent herbicides to prevent clover from germinating and emerging.

Why Do I Have So Much Clover In My Lawn?

Some environments and conditions lend themselves to growing clover much more severely than others do. Here are some of the conditions that can benefit clover and assist it to grow much faster in your lawn.

Clover Life Cycle

Depending on the time of year, you may be dealing with a clover bloom as they come into season. This blooming period, however, depends on the clover species in question.

Clovers generally have an annual or perennial life. Both types will germinate in the fall when temperatures are cooler. Germination will continue throughout winter and into the early spring, with many species emerging as spring comes to bear.

If you’re entering spring, you’re more likely to see a great deal of clover in your yard. If you have found yourself wondering how to get rid of clover in the lawn before, you can try to head this off by using pre-emergent herbicides to stop them from properly emerging.

Ideal Growing Conditions

There are specific conditions that benefit clover while also hurting your lawn. Consider fertilization and soil acidity when dealing with stopping clover from taking over.

Under-Fertilized Lawn

While lower nitrogen can benefit clover, there are other issues that under-fertilization can cause. Your grass becoming weaker from not having enough fertilizer will give the clover the edge it needs to conquer your lawn. Keep the nitrogen levels of your yard high to keep your clover low.

CSoil pH

Though clover benefits from low nitrogen, it doesn’t benefit from lower acidity. If the acidity of your yard is higher than it should be, this can create a breeding ground for clover. 

Because of this, you can stop clover from taking root by lowering the pH of your yard. For example, according to Pennsylvania State University, lowering soil pH below 6.0 may limit white clover growth. Make sure that you aren’t harming other plants in doing so, especially delicate flowers that may need a specific soil acidity. To lower acidity, consider adding sulfur.

How Does Clover Spread?

Clover spreads by creeping roots along the ground. The creeping spread is what causes clover to typically be in a large bed that continues to grow in surface area. Some species, like white clover, also spread through seeds and flowers.

Is Clover Invasive?

Clover is a highly invasive weed that chokes out the life of other plants. Though it isn’t quite hostile and can exist with other plants, it can ruin an ecosystem if you let it grow without controlling it.

How To Get Rid Of Clover In Flower Beds

In a small enough flower bed, you should be able to pull the clover out of the soil. Be careful, as the roots may have grown to wrap around the flowers. Covering the lower level of a flower bed to stop sunlight can also kill the clover.

How To Kill Clover In Vegetable Gardens

Vegetable gardens that are in planters can follow the same method as flower beds. If the vegetable garden is too large, try to use an organic herbicide to get rid of the clover. You don’t want your future meal to suck up too many chemicals!

Pulling the weeds out is often easier, depending on the vegetables you’re growing. Root vegetables like ginger, onions, and carrots are more resilient as the vegetables are often out of the range of clover. Still, remove the clover so that it doesn’t steal sunlight.

How To Get Rid Of Clover Around The Yard

Keep a lookout for any clover sprouting and pull it up as soon as it does. Stay especially vigilant during springtime to stop clover before it can spread around your yard. You can prevent roots from creeping into your yard by putting barriers, such as a thick layer of mulch, to frame your yard or a nitrate-heavy border of grass.

Common Types Of Clover

Though there are hundreds of species, some are much more common. Here are five of the most common species of clover you may find in your yard.

White Clover

Also known as Dutch clover, white clover is a low-growing perennial. It’s easy to overlook until it’s begun to grow through your yard.

Though many lawn care enthusiasts choose to remove it from their yard, many others like the look and happily allow white clover to grow through their lawn.

White Clover

Purple Clover

Due to similarities in shades, many people call the same plant red or purple clover. Purple clover is a large, pink-purple clover common in lawns and pastures.

It features a short root, upright stems, and flowers in a globe shape.

Purple Clover

Red Clover

Red clover is a legume and contains substances that are related to estrogen. Because of this, many regard red clover as a holistic aid for menopause, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol levels.

Historically, people also used it for gout, whooping cough, and even cancer. These characteristics mean it’s commonly found in flower gardens as a welcome weed.

Red Clover

Strawberry Clover

Strawberry clover is one of the most resilient species of clover you can find. Tolerant of heat and high salinity content, this perennial lacks resistance to shade, making it easier to kill by blocking out sunlight.

These clovers are common from early spring through to mid-summer.

Strawberry Clover 1

Japanese Clover

Japanese clover has similar growing conditions to white clover in that it grows in poor soil without proper fertilization.

The University of Maryland describes this clover as having wiry stems, dark green leaves, and pinkish-purple flowers. You can most often find this clover in late summer growing as close to the ground as possible.

Japanese Clover

FAQ’s Clover In Lawn

Final Thoughts On Managing Clover

Clover takes nitrogen from the air and makes it more readily available to your lawn. Doing so, reduces the amount of fertilizer your lawn will require. Furthermore, growing clover can make your lawn more pest-resistant.

Those pros aside, it can also overwhelm lawns if left without any maintenance. If you want to welcome clover into your yard, ensure that you’re keeping an eye on it and not letting it grow out of control. When left to its own devices, clover can overtake your entire lawn and garden in a single season, leaving you nothing but the clover itself.