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Planting clover as overseed in a Minnesota backyard #738271

Asked March 09, 2021, 3:54 PM EST

I would like to know the best type and method to plant clover in a household backyard

Dakota County Minnesota

Expert Response

Hello Todd,

Thank you for contacting University of Minnesota Extension with your gardening question, “I would like to know the best type and method to plant clover in a household backyard?” I think I can provide you with some resources that will answer your question.

You don’t say why you want to plant clover or what result you desire. Do you want to create a pollinator friendly or bee lawn? Or, do you want to overseed an existing lawn with clover to improve its coverage or health? Finally, are you totally renovating the yard to have only clover, or just adding clover to your lawn?

For either purpose, you are going to want to use Dutch White Clover (Trifolium repens). White clover is a perennial broadleaf used often as ground cover, about 2.5 inches high, blooming from May to October. It is characterized by its three-part leaves and white blossoms resembling pom-poms. Keep in mind that whatever your purpose, if you use clover, you’re going to have more bees in your yard.

You can see what White Clover looks like at https://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/weed/broadleaf/creeping/whiteclover.html. You can also see a U of M video that shows overseeding of a turf lawn with just White Clover and not some of the other recommended plants for a bee lawn at https://extension.umn.edu/lawns-and-landscapes/flowers-pollinators#planting-bee-lawns-1130611. Scroll down to Planting Bee Lawns and watch the video by Ian Lane.

Benefits of a flowering lawn include: increased lawn resilience to environmental pressures, natural diversity that benefits bees and other pollinators and insects, and the beauty of the flowers themselves. More than 50 bee species have been observed foraging on White Clover in Minneapolis parks. It is adaptable to a wide range of soils and to full sun, part sun and shade.

The document at https://www.beelab.umn.edu/sites/beelab.umn.edu/files/floweringbeelawntoolkit_ramer.etal_.-_08.13.2019.pdf from the University of Minnesota Bee Lab contains very detailed instructions on how to plant clover either by overseeding or complete renovation. You will see from this document that a lawn with White Clover is suitable for foot traffic and can be mowed. The best time to seed is in the fall. Overseeding in the early spring is the second best option, though bee lawn flowers will face more competition from established lawn weeds. Seeds will germinate in spring when soil temperatures stabilize at 50 or more degrees. If you do spring seeding you'll want to have your seeds down at that point so they have a chance to compete with emerging spring lawn weeds. You can find state soil temperatures at https://www.mda.state.mn.us/protecting/soilprotection/soiltemp.

There is more information about site preparation and ongoing maintenance in the Bee Lawn Tool Kit.

I hope these resources answer your question. Good luck with your planting!

Ed Colon Replied March 10, 2021, 10:49 AM EST

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