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White clover (Trifolium repens), a member of the legume family, is a perennial weed that is common throughout the U.S. It is closely related to the agricultural crops alfalfa and sweet clover. Since it produces its own nitrogen, clover will thrive in lawns that are under-nourished. Although some people like to have clover growing in their lawn, others want to control it because they think it looks messy or are concerned about their children being stung by bees visiting the flowers.
Identifying Clover in Your Lawn
If you see small, round, white or pink flowers in your yard with bees buzzing around them, chances are you have clover. Most lawns do. There are many varieties of this low–growing perennial weed, and all have the characteristic leaf structure of three round leaflets sitting on the end of a long stalk. The most common type is white clover.
1. Keep a Well-Fed Lawn
Constantly battling weeds like clover is a clear sign that you’re dealing with a bigger problem. The best way to control clover is to stop it before it starts. One way is to feed your lawn regularly (four times per year), which provides grass with the nutrients it needs to grow thick and strong. Thick lawns are able to crowd out weeds like clover.
2. Adjust Mowing Height
It may be tempting to lower your mower height to mow over all the clover, but it’s actually more beneficial to raise it. Clover is low-growing and its roots are shallow. By raising your mowing height and letting your grass grow a little taller, you block sunlight, which helps prevent clover from growing.
3. Pull Clover by Hand
If you happen to notice clover early, you can remove it from small areas by hand before it forms flowers and starts to spread. Clover spreads by seed and creeping stems that root along the ground, so be sure to pull it sooner than later. When pulling up clover, be sure to loosen the soil to break up any remaining roots you may have missed.
4. Use a Weed Killer
If you don’t want to pull clover by hand, you need an effective weed killer that won't harm your grass. If there are just a few clover plants in your lawn, Scotts® Spot Weed Control for Lawns will get the job done for most grass types; just be sure to follow the label directions. If you have a larger clover problem, or you want to feed your lawn and kill clover at the same time, try Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action. If you have a St. Augustine, centipede, or zoysia lawn use Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Triple Action instead.