How to Stop Clover Growing Without Killing Your Grass

Clover, though beneficial in some contexts, can be an unwelcome guest in a well-manicured lawn, competing with grass for nutrients and sunlight. For those who prefer a uniform, clover-free lawn, taking action is essential.

In this article, we'll explore effective strategies to stop clover weeds from growing in your lawn. From preventative measures and manual removal methods to the use of specialized weed killers, we'll provide you with a comprehensive guide to reclaim your lawn. As a trusted provider of top-quality lawn care products, we're here to help you achieve the beautiful, clover-free lawn you desire. Let’s dive in and transform your lawn into the envy of the neighborhood.

What Is Clover?

Clover is a hardy, perennial weed commonly found in lawns. It belongs to the legume family, which means it can fix nitrogen from the air into the soil, enriching it. There are several types of clover that can invade lawns, but the most common ones are white clover (Trifolium repens), red clover (Trifolium pratense), and lesser trefoil (Trifolium dubium). 

White Clover (Trifolium repens)

White Clover (Trifolium repens)
  • Appearance: White clover has distinctive white or light pink flowers and trifoliate leaves with a white "v" mark.
  • Growth habit: It’s a low-growing perennial that spreads via stolons (above-ground runners), forming dense mats.
  • Habitat: Prefers moist, well-drained soils and thrives in lawns, pastures, and waste areas.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • Appearance: Red clover has larger, purplish-red flower heads and trifoliate leaves with a characteristic white watermark.
  • Growth habit: It’s a short-lived perennial or biennial that can grow up to 2 feet tall.
  • Habitat: Thrives in well-drained, fertile soils and is commonly found in fields, roadsides, and disturbed areas.

Hop Clover/Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium)

Hop Clover/Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium)
  • Appearance: Hop clover, also known as yellow clover, has small, yellow, globular flower heads and trifoliate leaves without prominent markings.
  • Growth habit: These are annual or biennial plants that grow upright or slightly spreading.
  • Habitat: Commonly found in dry, sandy soils, open fields, and waste areas

Benefits and Drawbacks of Clover in Lawns

While many homeowners view clover as a weed, it has several ecological benefits:

  • Nitrogen fixation: Clover improves soil health by fixing atmospheric nitrogen, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
  • Pollinator support: The flowers attract bees and other pollinators, which are crucial for the ecosystem.
  • Drought tolerance: Clover stays green even in dry conditions, maintaining ground cover when grass may turn brown.

Despite these benefits, there are valid reasons for wanting to remove clover from your lawn:

  • Aesthetic preferences: A uniform, clover-free lawn is often more visually appealing and aligns with traditional landscaping aesthetics.
  • Competition with grass: Clover competes with grass for water, sunlight, and nutrients, potentially leading to weaker, patchier grass growth.
  • Allergies and stings: Clover flowers attract bees, which can pose a risk for those allergic to bee stings or children playing on the lawn.

Understanding clover’s characteristics and growth habits is the first step in effectively managing it. With this knowledge, you can implement targeted strategies to reduce clover and promote a healthier, more attractive lawn.

How To Prevent Clover

Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

A strong, healthy lawn is your best defense against clover and other weeds. Implementing proper lawn care practices can create an environment where grass thrives, and clover struggles to gain a foothold.

Proper Mowing Techniques

  • Mow at the right height: Keeping your grass at a recommended height (usually between two to four inches for most grass types) helps shade the soil, making it harder for clover seeds to germinate.
  • Mow regularly: Regular mowing ensures that clover doesn't have the opportunity to flower and spread seeds.

Adequate Watering Practices

  • Deep and infrequent watering: Water your lawn deeply and less frequently to encourage deep root growth in grass, which can outcompete clover.
  • Morning watering: Water in the early morning to reduce evaporation and prevent fungal diseases that can weaken grass.

Fertilization Tips

  • Balanced fertilization: Use a balanced fertilizer to ensure your grass has all the necessary nutrients. Grass thrives in nitrogen-rich soils, while clover prefers nitrogen-poor soils.
  • Regular feeding: Fertilize your lawn according to the needs of your grass type. Typically, this means applying fertilizer in the spring and fall.

Related: What Are Pre-emergent Herbicides and When Should You Apply Them?


Soil Management

Soil Management

Soil health is a critical factor in preventing clover growth. Proper soil management can create conditions that favor grass over clover.

Importance of Soil pH Balance

  • Ideal pH levels: Grass prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.0-7.0). Clover, on the other hand, can tolerate a wider range of pH levels.
  • Testing soil pH: Regularly test your soil's pH to ensure it falls within the optimal range for grass growth.

How to Test and Adjust Soil pH

  • Follow recommendations: Apply amendments based on recommendations from your soil test results to avoid over- or under-adjusting.

By focusing on maintaining a healthy lawn and managing soil conditions, you can create an environment that is less conducive to clover growth. These preventative measures are the first line of defense in keeping your lawn looking its best.


Related: Soil Test Kit Results Back: What Next?


Manual Clover Removal Methods

Hand-Pulling Clover

One of the most straightforward and natural ways to remove clover is by hand-pulling, especially when clover patches are small and manageable. But clover has a deep root system so it’s not usually the best way to erradicate clover completely.

Best Practices for Effective Removal

  • Moist soil: Pull clover when the soil is moist, such as after a rain or watering. This makes it easier to remove the entire root system.
  • Grasp firmly: Grasp the clover plants firmly at the base and pull gently but steadily to remove the roots along with the stems. Breaking the roots can lead to regrowth.
  • Consistent effort: Regularly inspect your lawn for clover and pull new plants before they have a chance to spread.

How to Smother Clover Patches

  • Organic mulch: Apply a thick layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or straw, over clover patches. The mulch blocks sunlight and can eventually lead to the death of the clover.
  • Plastic or fabric covers: Use black plastic or landscape fabric to cover clover-infested areas. Secure the edges to prevent the cover from blowing away. Leave it in place for several weeks to ensure the clover is thoroughly smothered.

Benefits of Mulching for Weed Prevention

  • Moisture retention: Mulch helps retain soil moisture, which is beneficial for grass growth.
  • Soil temperature regulation: Mulch regulates soil temperature, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Nutrient addition: As organic mulch breaks down, it adds valuable nutrients to the soil, promoting healthy grass growth.

Using these manual removal methods can be labor-intensive but effective, especially when dealing with small to moderate clover infestations. 


Related: How to Nail Weed Management This Summer


Weed Killers for Clover

Choosing the Right Weed Killer

When manual methods are not sufficient to control clover infestations, herbicides can be an effective solution. Selecting the right product is crucial for achieving the best results while minimizing potential harm to your lawn.

Types of Weed Killers Effective Against Clover

  • Selective herbicides: These herbicides are designed to target broadleaf weeds like clover without harming grass. Common active ingredients include 2,4-D, dicamba, and MCPP.
  • Non-selective herbicides: These herbicides, such as Roundup QuikPRO (glyphosate,) kill all plants they come into contact with. They should be used with caution and are best for spot treatments rather than widespread application.

Safe and Effective Application Methods

  • Read the label: Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the product label for safe and effective use.
  • Proper dilution: Ensure the herbicide is mixed correctly if it is a concentrate. Using too much can harm your lawn, while too little may be ineffective.
  • Spot treatment: Apply herbicide directly to clover patches rather than the entire lawn to minimize exposure to non-target plants.

Tips for Using Weed Killer for Clover

Using chemical treatments effectively requires careful planning and application.

Timing of Application

  • Ideal conditions: Apply herbicides on a calm, dry day to prevent drift and use surfactant to ensure the product adheres to the clover leaves.
  • Growth stage: Treat clover when it is actively growing, typically in the spring or fall. Avoid application during extreme heat or drought conditions.
  • Post-mowing: Wait at least two days after mowing before applying herbicide to allow the clover leaves to regrow and maximize herbicide absorption.

Safety Precautions and Environmental Considerations

  • Protective gear: Wear protective clothing, gloves, and eye protection when applying herbicides to reduce the risk of exposure.
  • Children and pets: Keep children and pets off the treated area until the herbicide has dried completely.
  • Avoid water sources: Be mindful of nearby water sources and avoid applying herbicides near ponds, streams, or wells to prevent contamination.
  • Storage and disposal: Store herbicides in a cool, dry place away from children and pets. Dispose of empty containers according to local regulations to prevent environmental contamination.

Herbicide can be a powerful tool in your lawn care arsenal, but it should be used judiciously. By choosing the right weed killer and applying it correctly, you can effectively target clover while keeping your lawn healthy and safe.


Related: Understanding Different Herbicide Types and Their Applications


Our Top Clover Herbicides

To help you achieve a clover-free lawn, we offer a range of high-quality products specifically designed to tackle clover and promote healthy grass growth. Here are some of our top recommendations:

Velocity® PM — Post-Emergent for Cool-Season Turf

Velocity PM on Lawn


If you're looking for an effective solution to get rid of clover and other stubborn weeds in your lawn, Velocity® PM Poa Management Herbicide is the answer. Specially formulated for cool-season turf, this herbicide targets clover and other challenging weeds like Poa annua and Poa trivialis. Perfect for Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, Creeping Bentgrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and select cultivars of Kentucky Bluegrass, Velocity® PM ensures your lawn stays pristine and healthy.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Velocity® PM is specifically effective against various types of clover, including large hop clover and white clover.
  • The post-emergent formula eliminates existing clover infestations efficiently, ensuring a clean, green lawn.
  • Suitable for cool-season grasses such as Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, Ryegrass, and Creeping Bentgrass.
  • Safe for certain Kentucky Bluegrass cultivars; testing on a small area is recommended before widespread application.
  • A 16 oz. bottle covers up to 7.1 acres (309,276 square feet), making it highly efficient for large lawns. Velocity® PM can be stored for three years, so you can treat your lawn several times over several seasons, making it great value for money.
  • Helps suppress dollar spot disease, promoting overall lawn health.

Application Guidelines

  • For best results, apply Velocity® PM twice, 14 to 21 days apart, when temperatures are between 70-90°F.
  • Expect initial results to appear within 21 days, with complete clover suppression achieved after the second application.
  • Mix 1.5 ml (.05 fl oz) of Velocity® PM per gallon of water and apply over 1000 square feet. Spot treat clover patches with this mixture twice, 14-21 days apart.
  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a TeeJet foliar spray tip for best results. Do not apply with a hose-end sprayer.
  • Apply 2.25 fl oz per acre twice, 14-21 days apart, ensuring thorough coverage with at least 20 gallons of spray solution per acre.
  • Ensure there is no unnecessary overlap during application to prevent over-application.
  • Do not use surfactants with Velocity® PM.
  • Do not mow immediately after application or before the spray has dried. Wait at least two days before and after treatment.


 

Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide - Post-Emergent for Cool and Warm-Season Lawns

Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide —Post-Emergent for Cool and Warm-Season Lawns


For those battling clover and other stubborn weeds in their lawns, Quinclorac 75 DF Herbicide is an outstanding choice. Known for its superior crabgrass control, this selective post-emergent herbicide effectively targets and eliminates over 20 types of broadleaf and grassy weeds. It's safe to use on various warm and cool-season grasses, making it a versatile solution for maintaining a pristine lawn.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Quinclorac 75 DF excels at eliminating clover, crabgrass, and over 20 other broadleaf and grassy weeds.
  • Provides fast-acting post-emergent control, ensuring that existing weed infestations are quickly managed.
  • Safe for use on Bermuda, Zoysia, Ryegrass, and Fescue, as well as Kentucky Bluegrass and Buffalograss.
  • Note that it should not be used on Bahiagrass, Centipede, St. Augustine, Bentgrass, Carpetgrass, or Kikuyugrass to avoid damage.
  • Expect to see visible results within 10-14 days of application, with weeds typically turning from green to white before dying completely within three weeks.
  • One 16 oz. bottle covers up to 43,560 square feet (1 acre), making it an efficient and cost-effective solution for large lawns.

Application Guidelines

  • Apply Quinclorac 75 DF when temperatures are below 90°F. If temperatures are high, apply in the evening when they drop below 85°F, and opt for spot spraying instead of blanket spraying.
  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a TeeJet foliar spray tip for best results. Do not apply with a hose-end sprayer.
  • For optimal effectiveness, mix Quinclorac with a non-ionic surfactant. This helps the herbicide adhere better to weed surfaces.
  • Do not mow for two days after applying Quinclorac. Additionally, avoid transferring clippings to non-target areas after treatment.

 

Tenacity Pre- and Post-Emergent Herbicide for Cool-Season Lawns

Tenacity on lawn


Designed for cool-season turf, Tenacity offers both pre- and post-emergence control of over 46 broadleaf and grassy weed species. This versatile herbicide is highly effective against challenging weeds like crabgrass and goosegrass, making it a top choice for maintaining a pristine, weed-free lawn.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Tenacity targets a wide range of weeds, including various types of clover, crabgrass, and other persistent weeds.
  • This herbicide is effective both before and after weed emergence, ensuring comprehensive weed management.
  • Safe for use on Kentucky Bluegrass, Turf Type Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue, and Ryegrass without harming your turf.
  • Can also be used on Centipede and Buffalograss for warm-season lawns.
  • Expect visible results within 10-14 days, with weeds turning white due to chlorophyll loss before dying off within three weeks.
  • One bottle of Tenacity covers between 43,000 and 87,000 square feet, making it a highly efficient and cost-effective solution for large areas.

Application Guidelines

  • Apply Tenacity when temperatures are below 90°F. For high temperatures, apply in the evening when they dip below 90°F, and opt for spot spraying rather than blanket spraying.
  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a TeeJet foliar spray tip for best results. Do not apply with a hose-end sprayer.
  • Mix Tenacity with a non-ionic surfactant to enhance herbicide adhesion to weeds for improved efficacy.
  • Do not mow immediately after applying Tenacity or before the spray has dried. Avoid transferring clippings to non-target areas after treatment.

 

Specticle FLO Pre-Emergent Herbicide for Warm-Season Grass

Specticle FLO on Lawn


Specticle FLO is an outstanding pre-emergent herbicide specifically designed for warm-season turf, offering superior control of annual bluegrass (Poa annua) and a wide range of other troublesome weeds. With its advanced liquid formulation and long-lasting efficacy, Specticle FLO ensures your lawn stays healthy and beautiful all season long.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Specticle FLO targets over 60 broadleaf and grassy weed species, including stubborn clover, ensuring comprehensive weed management.
  • Provides superior pre-emergence control, preventing weeds from germinating and taking root in your lawn.
  • Safe for use on Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, Centipede, Bahiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Buffalograss, and Seashore Paspalum.
  • The active ingredient, indaziflam, offers over six months of weed control, providing lasting protection for your lawn.
  • The liquid formulation penetrates the soil rapidly, getting ahead of weeds before they can emerge.
  • One 18 oz. bottle covers up to 130,680 square feet, making Specticle FLO a highly efficient and cost-effective solution for large lawns.

Application Guidelines

  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a large droplet nozzle for best results. Avoid using hose-end sprayers.
  • Water in the product after application to enhance its soil penetration and weed control efficacy.
  • Apply in late summer or early fall, ensuring the product is watered in after application for maximum effectiveness.

 

Triad Select™ —Professional-Grade Herbicide for Cool and Warm-Season Grass

Triad Select™ —Professional-Grade Herbicide for Cool and Warm-Season Grass


When it comes to eliminating clover and other stubborn broadleaf weeds from your lawn, Triad Select™ Herbicide stands out as a top-tier solution. This professional-grade herbicide leverages a powerful blend of three active ingredients to provide superior weed control without harming your grass.

Key Features and Benefits

  • Visible weed control in 10-14 days.
  • Controls dandelion, clover, chickweed, wild onion, and broadleaf plantain, among other tough weeds.
  • Suitable for most warm and cool season grasses.
  • One quart (32 oz) bottle covers up to 21,000 square feet.

Application Guidelines

  • Use a battery-powered 4-gallon sprayer with a TeeJet foliar spray tip for best results. Do not apply with a hose-end sprayer.
  • Do not apply when temperatures exceed 90°F. If temperatures are high, apply in the evening when they drop below 90°F and consider spot spraying instead of blanket spraying.
  • Use a non-ionic surfactant to help Triad Select adhere better to weed surfaces, enhancing its effectiveness. 

Related: The Best Products for Killing Weeds Without Killing Your Grass


Taking control of clover in your lawn is achievable with the right products and strategies. By understanding clover, implementing preventative measures, using manual removal methods, and applying chemical treatments when necessary, you can maintain a beautiful, clover-free lawn.

If you’re looking to keep your lawn healthy after weed treatment, check out our non-toxic biostimulants and fertilizers that make lawn care a breeze.