Compared to grass, a clover lawn generally needs less maintenance.
As long as you plant the seeds correctly, you’ll find that they won’t need watering and fertilization as frequently as grass.
When to plant clover? The best time to plant clover is in spring. Wait until temperatures reach between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. Clover needs plenty of water during its early days, so plant the seeds in springtime. In most regions, this will be around April to May.
Planting Clover in Different Climates
As a hardy plant available in many species, you will find a clover variety for any planting conditions.
The first step to having a clover lawn is figuring out which species will grow in your area.
Generally speaking, this will depend on the climate your region has.
For Hardiness Zones 3 through 10, you will find it easy to plant perennial clover.
Compared to perennial clover, annual clover prefers warm, temperate climates.
As such, your best bet is to plant annual clover seeds in areas where winters are considered mild.
Again, these are hardy plants, so they can survive in most soils and in areas that receive partial shade to full sun.
It’s best to plant them in spring, but you can also start the seeds in early summer.
The key is to wait for the ground to become moist and soft enough because of the spring rains.
In some locations, you can even plant clover seeds as late as September or early October.
Choosing Clover Seeds
Before you can start growing clover, you must first figure out the species that will thrive in your area.
Some clover varieties have impressive tolerance to extreme climate and soil conditions, while others don’t.
In general, you can choose from two kinds of clover: annual and perennial.
Annual clovers have a life cycle of just one year.
This means they grow from seeds, produce new seeds, and eventually die, all within 12 months.
So, if you decide to grow annual clover, expect your clover lawn to require reseeding in one year.
The only way to reproduce annual clovers is through their seeds.
Unfortunately, you might notice delayed germination in newly produced annual clover seeds.
This is due to the seeds’ coating, which needs time to break down so that moisture can enter the seed.
Types of Annual Clover
You will come across many types of annual clovers on the market, but here are the four most common:
Arrowleaf clover is an annual that produces the most seeds, so it’s a good variety for reseeding.
Plus, compared to other annual clovers, the seeds can germinate even at lower temperatures.
It’s primarily for growing in meadows, but you can also use it for hay.
When growing arrowleaf clover, do enough grazing to keep grass from covering the seedlings.
It would also be best to plant it in well-draining soil.
Ball clover is a winter annual that kind of looks like the white clover.
However, you’ll notice their difference in the flowers, as white clover flowers are bigger and less rounded.
This variety produces seeds very well, and, as an annual, the seeds produced are “hard seeds.”
Unlike the arrowleaf, ball clover grows in early to mid-spring.
It will thrive when planted in loam to clay soils and can also survive poor drainage.
The berseem clover looks very much like alfalfa.
Not tolerant of frost or the cold, plant them in fall so they can grow in mid-spring.
Unfortunately, they don’t reseed very well, especially compared to other annuals.
However, you’ll like berseem clover if you are looking for a variety that tolerates wet soil.
The crimson clover produces healthier and larger seeds than most of the annual types.
Moreover, their crimson-colored blooms are a spectacle to look at.
To enjoy this view, you will need to plant the seeds in well-draining soil.
Perennial clovers will thrive for longer than a year under the ideal growing conditions.
If you care for them correctly, you will have several generations of perennial clovers growing in the same plot.
Types of Perennial Clover
The two most popular perennial clovers are the red clover and the white clover.
You can expect red clover plants to live for at least two years. However, they need to be grown in an area where they are well adapted to.
What you’ll love about them is that they produce seeds with remarkable seedling vigor.
Just be careful about the soil’s moisture levels because they aren’t as tolerant to wet conditions as white clover.
The most common type of clover, especially in the United States, is the white clover.
These plants can live for several years, so they are perfect for grazing and ground covers.
The most productive variety is the Ladino clovers. Unfortunately, they don’t reseed very well.
That said, you might want to grow intermediate white clovers instead if you’re planting them for grazing.
Soils with good moisture or excellent moisture-holding ability are best for white clover.
How To Plant Clover Seeds
As mentioned, clover is one of the most common grass alternatives.
You will find it very simple to grow, easy to maintain, tolerant of drought, and most importantly, affordable.
Clover lawns need very little care and virtually no mowing. They also attract bees, helping with pollination.
If you decide to grow these in your yard, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Getting the Soil Ready
Planting clover seeds require some preparation. This way, you can be sure you’re giving them the best chance to thrive.
Test the Soil
Doing this is very important, as it will determine if you have the kind of soil that will allow your clover to grow.
Naturally, you’ll want to do this six months in advance so that you have enough time to make any necessary adjustments.
Most clover varieties thrive in soil with a pH of 6.0 up to 7.0. Some species might prefer soil with an 8.5 pH rating.
Aside from determining soil pH, a testing kit also identifies mineral and nutrient deficiencies in your soil.
For a soil pH that is too low, add lime. For a soil pH that is too high, mix in sawdust or peat moss.
After making the adjustments, wait for at least six months before planting your clover seeds.
Treat the Area With Weed Killer
Check for any unwanted plants or weeds growing in your lawn.
If you find any, the simplest way to treat the area is to use a weed killer.
Some weed killers will tell you to wait for 10 to 14 days before you can plant the seeds.
Be sure to follow the directions stated in the packets.
Till the Soil
Do this one month before you plant your clover seeds to allow any left-over weeds to reappear.
While clover seeds can grow with weeds, it is still best if it has no competition to the nutrients available in the soil.
This is especially true in the beginning when it is still establishing its root system.
You will want to till the soil to about 20-centimeter deep and remove rocks, debris, and other vegetation in the area.
Water the Lawn Daily
You do this process to let weeds and other vegetation grow so that you can pull them off.
If you get enough rain, do not bother with watering the area daily.
Remove the Weeds
Use a shovel or a spade to remove any unwanted weeds that reappeared after.
Doing this will allow the clover to have the best chance of thriving.
You may also cut them out using a scythe but using a small shovel or a spade is much better.
Step 2: Plant the Seeds
If you’re confident that the soil is ready for planting, here’s how to plant clover seeds:
Mix With a Medium
To ensure that your clover seeds are spread evenly, mix them with unfertilized soil, sand, or sawdust.
This trick will make it easier for you to spread them on the ground.
Spread the Seeds
Spread the seeds over the lawn evenly using your hand.
If you happen to have a big lawn, you can buy a broadcast spreader, which should be available at your local garden center.
You can also try smoothing the soil surface using a turned-up rake.
To help keep the seeds in place, cover them with a very thin layer of soil.
Doing this should help prevent predators or the wind from disturbing your seeds.
Remember that clover seeds cannot grow if they are buried, so be careful about putting too much soil to cover them.
How To Water Clovers
The trick to a healthy clover lawn is to keep the soil moist.
You can achieve this by giving the entire plot of clovers at least two inches of water every week.
This equates to watering about twice a week.
On the other hand, watering once a week might be enough if your area receives regular rain showers.
Some types of clover will tolerate mildly dry soil, but they will grow quicker and healthier when given enough water.
How To Grow Clovers
As you can imagine, planting and watering clover plants seem easy enough.
If you still have doubts about growing them, here are more tips you can follow:
- Water your clover seeds right after you spread them to help them stick in the ground.
- Every day, give the seeds a little sprinkle of water until they grow leaves.
- Once established, encourage more growth by mowing regularly.
- Stop mowing mid-summer to allow clover to flower and produce seeds.
How Long Do Clovers Take To Grow?
When given the right growing conditions, you can expect your clover seeds to sprout in as quickly as two to three days.
Generally speaking, if temperatures are right, the seeds will germinate and sprout within a week.
How long it takes to grow from seeds to where it produces blooms depends on the species you decide to plant.
However, you can expect maturity within a year.
Clover has had its ups and downs over the years.
It was once an indication of a well-maintained lawn but is now often considered a weed.
Luckily, gardeners are going back to growing clover lawns and taking advantage of its many benefits.
And we must say, they are very wise to do so.