University of Maryland Extension

Clover

(More Lawn Weeds)  (Lawn Control Options)  

Clover
Trifolium repens 

white clover in flower


Lifecycle

Cool season perennial that roots at nodes. Goes dormant in the winter. 

Growth habit

Low growing, less than 1 ft. high, leaves composed of three leaflets (trifoliate), most with a pale triangular mark. Each 1/2 in. flower head is a cluster of many white or pink-tinged, pea-like flowers.

Reproduction

Reproduces by seed and creeping runners.

Conditions that favor growth

Poorly maintained lawn and garden areas.

Management - lawns

Did you know at one time white clover was included in turfgrass seed mixes? It also takes nitrogen from the air, converts it to a form plants can use and eventually releases it back into the soil, lessening the need to fertilize. The white flowers also attract important pollinators. So as complete eradication in lawns is not practical; either accept it or aim for limiting the spread. 

Cultural control: Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.
Mechanical control: Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.
General chemical control:(lawns) Spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients:

2, 4-D, (2, 4-D alone does not effectively control clover), MCPP (mecoprop), dicamba* or triclopyr. Treat in the spring and fall. Multiple treatments are often necessary.

*Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Read the product label for precautions. 

Organic control

For a glossary of herbicide terms and additional information see: control options   

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