Do you have any information re: replacing a turf grass lawn with clover, micro-clover, or other plant(s)? I'm trying to find a low/no-mow alternative...
Turf grass replacement advice? #817109
Asked December 01, 2022, 10:35 AM EST
Do you have any information re: replacing a turf grass lawn with clover, micro-clover, or other plant(s)? I'm trying to find a low/no-mow alternative which doesn't require watering. Clover seemed promising, but someone just told me it's non-native/prone to invasion by undesirable/invasive species.
If there is an acceptable/native clover which would work, can I just overseed my existing lawn with it? I have some grass, some moss and lots of weeds. Mostly sun, some shade under 2 large maple trees.
Two words that don’t go together in a garden’s vocabulary are “shade” and “lawn.” Grasses used in lawns fancy themselves as prairie plants – the more sun they can get, the happier they are. There is no such thing as a shade-loving lawn grass. There are some that could be considered tolerant, but that is much different than loving. Check out the alternatives!! Article: Shady lawn alternatives - Gretchen Voyle, Michigan State University Extension - January 30, 2014 - Make your shady area the most beautiful place in your yard. Click on this link:https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/shady_lawn_alternatives
White clover, Trifolium repens, is hardy to USDA Hardiness zone 3.. Microclover is a small-leafed variety of white clover called ‘Pirouette’ or ‘Pipolina’. Overseed in spring or fall in the sunny parts of your lawn. It may not do well in part to full shade, according to some studies.
Pros: It blends well with cool season lawns. Clover fixes nitrogen, and so reduces the amount of nitrogen fertilizer you need to apply for the grass. If allowed to flower, it provides an important food source for bees and other pollinators.
Cons: It will be killed by common lawn broadleaf weed killers. And it goes dormant and the tops die back in winter, but it resprouts from the crowns in spring. It is not tolerant of heavy foot traffic. It prefers full sun and will dieout in too shady areas. The ‘cons’ are why it is recommended to mix clover with a grass lawn, rather than trying to grow 100% clover as a lawn. Here are a few links to articles, with some details on pros-cons, and seeding rates.
MSU Extension is not permitted to recommend retailers or brand names. Use the scientific name given above to search for seed sources online, and check with farm supply-type stores. We do have a nice article that discusses turf seed, and these principles can be applied when shopping for clover aeed:
This work is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.