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Clover invasion

Posted by cyn427 z7aN. VA (My Page) on
Mon, May 7, 12 at 19:16

Help! Suddenly (well maybe not quite suddenly, but it is suddenly obvious), clover has gone wild in our front lawn and is choking out all the grass and moving into the garden beds. What is the best approach? Should I pull it out or just spray it with Round-up before I reseed? Normally, we try not to use herbicides or pesticides, but I think we may need to resort to that this time. I will definitely have to pull it in the beds because it is coming up in the middle of perennials, so can't spray there, but I am discovering it is not an easy task.

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Clover invasion

Weed B Gone Clover, Chickweed and Oxalis killer is very effective at eliminating clover from grass. Two applications two weeks apart should do it.


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RE: Clover invasion

Well Clover invasion is a symptom of another underlying problem. There are two reasons for Clover outbreaks:

1. 90% of the time it is telling you the nitrogen levels are way too low. Clover is Mother Natures defense mechanism to put nitrogen into the soil.

2. Phosphorous levels are too high, coupled with low nitrogen levels.


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RE: Clover invasion

Yes, all of the above. And never use Round Up unless you are trying to kill everything. The product tiemco mentioned selects weeds like clover and does not kill the grass.

When were the last two times you fertilized? What did you use?


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RE: Clover invasion

hmmm...well, this is a little embarrassing, but I don't remember when we last fertilized. We have only a small area of lawn left in the front and the pups have destroyed every bit of lawn in the back (another long story, but plan to rectify that situation in the next year-maybe as early as fall if the mongrel horde continues to calm down).

Thanks for the info on the Weed be Gone,Tiemco. I will get some this weekend.

Texas-weed and dchall, guess we should check levels and/or fertilize. I will research other posts on the forum about that.

Thanks to all three of you for your wisdom. I know gardens, but not lawns! Always figured if it was green, that was good enough, but now the clover flowers are making us the eye-sore of the neighborhood. I like natural but this is ridiculous! I need all the help I can get! :)


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RE: Clover invasion

If your lawn is at least a mix of Kentucky bluegrass and fescue, the KBG will spread to fill back where the clover dies. If you have no KBG, you will need to reseed in the fall to improve your turf density.

Wait until you are over the spring flush of new growth before fertilizing with chemical fertilizers. Then you can go for it. If you are using organic fertilizer, you can do that any time.

If you are using a chem, you might split the spring app into two and apply them one week apart. The full dose all at once might be harmful to grass not used to the routine.


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RE: Clover invasion

Hi dchall, I am not sure what we have. When we have overseeded in the past, we used a sun/shade mix or seed for shade. I have a bag of Scott's Winterizer that I bought several years ago, hoping DH would use it, but he never did. Other than that, haven't thought too much about what type of fertilizer to use. I will probably check out the options this weekend. Since all our neighbors have those lawn services to fertilize/kill weeds/etc., they have these lush wonderful lawns. I don't expect that success, but I sure would like some fairly decent-looking grass. :) We had grubs at one point and I got rid of them and reseeded, so we looked good for several years.

Thanks again. I REALLY do appreciate your taking time to help me with this!

Cynthia


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RE: Clover invasion

I fight clover constantly in my yard. Occasionally I use Weed B Gone Clover, Chickweed and Oxalis killer and try to spray it just on the weeds, and STILL I end up with browned grass and incomplete control of clover. I fertilize regularly, so I don't believe the clover results simply from a dearth of nitrogen. I think it's just stronger than the grass! My main control method is hand pulling.


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RE: Clover invasion

This whole notion that clover only pops up in low nitrogen soils is a complete myth. Clover's nitrogen fixation ability comes from bacteria in the root nodules, and it takes a while for this symbiotic relationship to form and will only do so if the bacteria is present in the soil, or if the seeds were inoculated prior to planting. Even when it does form, the plant is not releasing nitrogen to the soil like fertilizer. The plant uses or stores most of it, only when the plant dies will the majority of the nitrogen be released. It is one way clover can outcompete plants that can't fix their own nitrogen. The saying is or was "yellow grass and green clover means you need to fertilize", and I think a lot of people somehow twisted that into the myth of clover being an indicator of low nitrogen.


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RE: Clover invasion

Sometimes details in the stories about how certain plants get growing can be lost. I believe tiemco has some great points. Clover, if that is what you have, does have the ability to grow in poor soil but that does not mean it cannot thrive in good soil.

For those of you who have shamrock shaped weeds, please post a picture of it preferably with a flower or seed head. Dutch white clover has a white flower. It also has a design in the leaves that forms a white circle from leaf to leaf. Oxalis has a yellow flower and no leaf designs. Other clover look-alikes have purple flowers.

cyn, you can have a nicer lawn than the neighbors. Watering properly and mulch mowing at the right height are the two most important aspects of lawn care. If you do those you usually don't get into trouble with bugs and weeds. Then it is a matter of fertilizing.

You mentioned you were going to reseed. You missed the best window for reseeding by about 8 months. If you can hold out, please PLEASE wait until late August after the summer heat breaks. Seeding now is a waste of seed. Summer heat will kill it and crabgrass will fill in.

Here are the basics of lawn care...

Basics of Lawn Care

After reading numerous books and magazines on lawn care, caring for lawns at seven houses in my life, and reading numerous forums where real people write in to discuss their successes and failures, I have decided to side with the real people and dispense with the book and magazine authors. I don't know what star their planet rotates around but it's not mine. With that in mind, here is the collected wisdom of the Internet savvy homeowners and lawn care professionals summarized in a few words. If you follow the advice here you will have conquered at least 50% of all lawn problems. Once you have these three elements mastered, then you can worry about weeds (if you have any), dog spots, and striping your lawn. But if you are not doing these three things, they will be the first three things suggested for you to correct.

Watering
Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. Do not spread this out and water for 10 minutes every day. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. If that does not work, then you might have to water more than once per week during the summer's hottest period. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds.


You will have to learn to judge when to water your own lawn. If you live in Las Vegas your watering will be different than if you live in Vermont. Adjust your watering to your type of grass, humidity, wind, and soil type. It is worth noting that this technique is used successfully by professionals in Phoenix, so...just sayin.' The other factors make a difference. If you normally water 1 inch per week and you get 1/2 inch of rain, then adjust and water only 1/2 inch that week.

Mowing
Every week mulch mow at the highest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. However, bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses will become the most dense when they are mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. In fact there are special mowers that can mow these grasses down to 1/16 inch. Dense grass shades out weeds, keeps the soil cooler, and uses less water than thin grass. Tall grass can feed the deep roots you developed in #1 above. Tall grass does not grow faster than short grass nor does it look shaggy sooner. Once all your grass is at the same height, tall grass just looks plush.


Fertilizing
Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 5 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above. Follow the directions on the bag and do not overdo it. Too little is better than too much. At this point you do not have to worry about weed and feed products - remember at this point you are just trying to grow grass, not perfect it. Besides once you are doing these three things correctly, your weed problems should go away without herbicide.


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RE: Clover invasion

Thanks again Lisah, tiemco, and dchall. I am determined to have the little bit of grass we have looking good by next year!

We have the clover with white flowers and white on the leaves, so I guess ours is Dutch White Clover.

Thanks for the lawn basics, dchall. Yes, I agree that I CAN do this and have a better lawn than the neighbors without chemicals. (cue the cheering section!) I also sent your directions to my son since he has just moved into a new place and wants to seed the very small front yard.

Thanks again, all. I am now going to be following this forum as well as the gardening forums!


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RE: Clover invasion

This whole notion that clover only pops up in low nitrogen soils is a complete myth.

Not according to all the university studies I have read and the USGA.

Here is a quote from University of Kentucky

The two most important soil fertility factors in growing white clover are pH and phosphorus. Soils should be limed to a target pH of 6.4 for seeding white clover. For late winter or spring seedings, perform soil tests in the fall and apply lime at this time, if needed. Applying lime in the fall will give it time to dissolve and increase the pH before the clover is seeded. Phosphorus and potassium could also be applied in the fall. Soil test levels of these nutrients should be maintained at medium or higher for good white clover growth.

Nitrogen should not be applied on white clover. White clover is able to "fix" nitrogen from the air with the help of bacteria that live in nodules on the plant roots. Fertilizer nitrogen reduces nitrogen fixation and increases competition from grass and weeds. This becomes even more of a problem when seeding white clover into grass pastures. Increased grass competition from added nitrogen can cause failure of white clover seedings.

Source line = http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/agr/agr93/agr93.htm


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RE: Clover invasion

Did you even read that Texas-Weed? First of all the article is about establishing clover in a pasture, which is mowed much less often than a lawn, if at all. Also in the article it states that "White clover grows best in moist, fertile, well drained soils." In my book a soil low in nitrogen is not called fertile. In this paragraph, "Nitrogen should not be applied on white clover. White clover is able to "fix" nitrogen from the air with the help of bacteria that live in nodules on the plant roots. Fertilizer nitrogen reduces nitrogen fixation and increases competition from grass and weeds. This becomes even more of a problem when seeding white clover into grass pastures. Increased grass competition from added nitrogen can cause failure of white clover seedings. " It's clear to me that fertilizing with nitrogen in a pasture enviroment will cause the established grasses to grow fast and tall, overshadowing clover seedlings and using most of the water. In a lawn enviroment, shade from the grass isn't too much of an issue if cut at the appropriate height, and if you irrigate water shouldn't be an issue either. I have clover in my lawn, and I can assure you I am not low in nitrogen. If you took to pots of soil, one high in N, the other very low, and planted clover in each, the one higher in N would probably have the better looking clover.


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RE: Clover invasion

"White clover grows best in moist, fertile, well drained soils." In my book a soil low in nitrogen is not called fertile

Have you ever seen a soil test where nitrogen is NOT depleted. I have not in 35 years of farming.


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RE: Clover invasion

I stand by my original statements. If people want to believe that the reason they have clover is because their lawns need nitrogen, then so be it.


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RE: Clover invasion

I'm here to agree with tiemco. I put Scotts Turf Builder on my lawn about six weeks ago. I now have MORE clover than before I fertilized it. And we've gotten a ton of rain over the past month, so I know it's not because the grass is stressed.

I'm getting the clover with the larger white flowers and the clover with the small yellow flowers.

Any suggestions on a yard-wide clover treatment?


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RE: Clover invasion

Weed B Gone Clover Chickweed and Oxalis killer, applied with a hose end sprayer. Read all directions on the label before applying.


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RE: Clover invasion

That's what I use, though I mix it in a Round-Up pump spray bottle. It does seem to really stress and maybe kill some of the clover, but it doesn't shrivel up and go away.


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RE: Clover invasion

I had a ton of clover a few weeks ago. I think it may have been the heavy rains and possible needing fertilizer. My lawn service gave it a heavy dose of fertilizer and possibly weed killer. I have hit each area twice with Weed B Gone and things are looking pretty good today :)


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RE: Clover invasion

The WBG product tiemco has been talking about does not make plants shrivel up and go away. Instead it acts kind of like a steroid. The plant leaps into a hypergrowth stage and literally burns up all the nutrients it has over a 2-week period. It is really cool to see the effect in dandelions. The plant shoots up a seed head so quickly that the stem curls into a 360 degree loop on the way up. And then the plant dies. Anyway instead of seeing the plant suffer you will see it look particularly healthy for a few days.


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