How to Plant Clover in Existing Lawn

Clover lawns are easy to start and great for the environment. How do you seed it into your existing lawn?

Clover on your lawn is beneficial to both the soil and the environment. A grass-only monoculture lawn is unnatural and requires continuous fertilizer. A clover lawn, on the other hand, may be self-sustaining because it can add nitrogen to your soil.

Today, I’ll show you how to use clover to overseed your existing grass.

4 Steps to Overseeding Clover

1. Pick Which Type You Will Plant

Clover is available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Microclovers and Dutch white clover are both viable options. The Dutch version grows slightly taller than the microclover variety and also produces flowers.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, I recommend going with the Dutch cultivar. Many people believe that microclover loses its limited growing abilities after the first season. It’s possible that the extra money spent on it will be a waste.

Amount of Seed

I recommend using 2 to 8 ounces of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Higher rates could be used for less desirable times of year or conditions, whereas lower rates could be used for more suitable times and places, or for bigger turfs when cost is a factor.

The seeds I use have a weight of 5 to 7 milligrams per seed, so the lowest planting rate is 1 seed per 10 x 10 cm area and the greatest planting rate is 4 seeds per 10 x 10 cm area.

wet clover leaves after rain

2. Prepare the Soil

The first step in planting clover on an existing lawn is to prepare the soil.

Before planting clovers on an existing lawn, cut your grass at the lowest mower setting, remove thatch, thin the lawn, and eliminate weeds. Weeds are a major impediment to clover development.

3. Spread the Seed

Hand-spread for smaller areas.

Over large areas, use a seed spreader. Clover seed is difficult to disperse uniformly and has a tendency to seed overly densely. Many drop or broadcast spreaders cannot handle such a small type of seed. I recommend using a Scotts “Easy Hand-Held” broadcast-type spreader set to the lowest level (number 1). Spread the seeds by walking three to four times around the grass area in crisscrossing patterns.

4. Water the Seeds

To keep the soil moist, it is vital to water it shortly after seeding. Clovers require at least 30 inches (76.2 cm) of rain per year to grow, with 45 inches (114.3 cm) being optimum. Keep the growth area moist to ensure that clover germinates effectively.

If it doesn’t rain, water every day for the first two weeks. In hot weather, increase the amount of water you use. The clover will usually emerge in 7 to 10 days.

modern garden irrigation system water sprinkler

The Best Time to Plant Is Spring

Spring is the best time to seed. To establish clover seed in existing sod, sow it in the spring or early fall. Because there is little moisture stress and competition with grass and other broadleaf plants, the best time is early to mid-April, before grass starts to grow quickly.

Clover seed can be ‘frost seeded’ in late March or early April on ground that is still partially frozen; the seed falls into tiny gaps as the surface thaws during the day and freezes again at night. Early sown seed will sprout when the earth begins to warm up in late April.

Late summer/early autumn is another alternative, but it is less ideal than spring since less mature plants are more likely to be winter-killed than spring-seeded plants.

If you want clover on your lawn in the late summer, seed it now, and then again in late May or early June the following year if the fall-sown clover doesn’t grow well.

If the seed is sown after established grass has begun growing, the grass should first be mowed and scraped. Seed can be mixed into the soil by scraping it with a hard rake and then walking over it (or using a roller).

White clover flower grass in a lawn

Mow Your Lawn Regularly as It Establishes

Following seeding, the lawn should be cut regularly and close to the ground (1.5 to 2 inches or 3.8 to 5 cm), which encourages clover over grass by allowing more light to reach the clover.

Clover can be mowed to a higher height once it is established. Clippings should be left on the grass for maximum nutrition retention.

Persistence May Require Reseeding

Clover does not always persist, and it may be necessary to reseed it every two or three years until it takes. After it has established itself, it should not need to be reseeded every year.

Even with continuous re-seeding, clover is less expensive than nitrogen fertilizer and has numerous other advantages.

Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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