On a walk around my neighbourhood, I notice there are spreading patches of clover throughout lawns and nature strips. I’m sure that they weren’t so widespread this time last year. Initially I thought this was a Bad Thing and not to be encouraged in my lawn but now I’m not so sure.
Clover is an invasive plant because the roots spread far and quickly. It is a legume crop and fixes nitrogen in the soil. With a taproot, it can draw nutrients from deep in the ground. It grows best when lawns are cut low (less than about 7.6 cm). This low height stresses the grass and allows the clover to spread more easily. If you cut your grass higher, it makes it more difficult for the clover to compete. Clover will often take advantage of bare spots in a lawn, too, so aerating these areas will help the grass roots develop.
That’s all very well if your clover is in your lawn but what if it’s spread to garden beds? That’s my current dilemma and I’m not sure how to approach it.
Clover has benefits. It’s a great groundcover and chokes out most other weeds (a bonus in a bed). Bees and other pollinators love the flowers. You’ll often find honeybees buzzing around the flowers of white clover because the nectar is fairly easy to access. Even those busy insects enjoy not having to work too hard.
I guess it depends on your attitude to so-called “weeds”. I’m fairly tolerant of plants that want to spread themselves around my garden. It’s really a matter of where they grow and whether I want them there. If I don’t, I pull them out but if I do, I let them wander. I know that horrifies some gardeners.
Don’t forget those supposedly lucky four-leaf clovers. Sadly, these are not magical leaves but are the result of a genetic mutation and are extremely rare (as few as one in 10,000). With the amount of clover I have, there’s sure to be at least one of these. If I find one, I’ll keep it for luck; you never know, it may work!