Clover can be one of the hardest lawn weeds to control. But with the right strategy, and products, you can kill clover and prevent it from coming back.
Clover is a low growing, quick spreading, perennial plant with three leaves and white or pinkish flowers. Despite its positive uses in the landscape such as food for pollinators and wildlife, it’s mostly considered a nuisance weed.
Clover is one of the most common lawn weeds and also one of the toughest to control. It’s aggressive spreading habit allows one small plant to multiply in size.
It also has the ability to create its own nitrogen which makes it thrive in an underfed lawn.
Most varieties, such as white clover, are perennial, so you can count on it coming back even stronger as you leave it unchecked. It also self seeds and can pop up in sections of your landscape that have been clover free in the past.
Clover Life Cycle
After spending the winter in a dormant state (except for southern states where it can stay green during the winter), clover begins to green up and spread when soil temps approach 50 degrees. White clover, which is one of the most popular lawn weeds, will flower from early spring- summer and spread aggressively if not controlled. Eventually the flowers turn to seeds and these seeds germinate in early fall.
How to Kill Clover
1. Post-emergent, lawn safe herbicides are the most effective way to kill clover. Using a liquid post emergent herbicide will kill the clover without killing your grass. Post emergent herbicides are also useful in killing other lawn weeds.
2. Pre-emergent herbicides are effective in preventing new clover seedlings from developing but it is important to realize it will not kill existing clover.
Pre-emergents prevent new clover seeds from germinating. If you already have clover in your lawn you will need to use a post-emergent herbicide in addition to a pre-emergent.
3. Maintaining a healthy lawn is the best defense against clover, or any lawn weeds. When you have bare spots in your lawn, it is the weeds that will claim the real estate. Stick to a simple lawn care program to keep your existing turf lush.
Best Post Emergent Herbicides
Post-emergent herbicides are the best way to kill clover. Just keep in mind they require a little patience since it could take a couple weeks for the clover to die back. Also, repeat applications will likely be necessary, and mixing in a little surfactant with the herbicide will help the herbicide stick to the plant. Also, notice that there are different recommendations for cool season grasses vs warm season grasses.
For Cool Season Grasses:
1. Ortho Weed B Gone Plus Crabgrass Control– This is a great product to have on hand because of how easy it is to use. It comes with a battery operated wand so there’s no need for a tank sprayer. It’s the go to post emergent in my 3 product lawn care plan. It kills clover and other broad leaf weeds as well as some undesirable grasses such as crabgrass.
2. Ortho Weed B Gone Chickweed, Clover, Oxalis Kiler– This is another Weed B Gone product that has different active ingredients which are more specific in targeting clover. If clover is your main problem and you don’t have many other broad leaf weeds then this product is a great choice. It is sold as a concentrate so will require mixing with a tank sprayer.
3. Tenacity– Tenacity is a post emergent herbicide that works a little slower than other herbicides. Rather then poisoning the plant, it works by blocking photosynthesis. With Tenacity, it might take 7-10 days before you begin to see whitening of the plant. Eventually it will look like your treated weeds are bleached.
You may also see some grass blades turning white in the treated areas. Don’t be alarmed. Tenacity is a selective herbicide and in my opinion does the best job of targeting the undesirable grasses such as Poa Annua while protecting the desirable grasses.
Also note that you might see some temporary whitening of the desirable grasses but they will ultimately green back up after a couple of mows.
Check out pic below from when I treated my clover using tenacity…
The pic above is me spot treating my lawn with a 2 gallon tank sprayer. I mixed the Tenacity at a rate of 1 teaspoon per 2 gallons as according to the directions.
10 days later and the clover looked like this…
You can see the whitening of the leaves occur 10 days after the Tenacity application.
After a couple of weeks, you might have to retreat some, or all of the areas to knock it out for good.
Tenacity is a great product but it’s important to understand its pros and cons before choosing it:
– It’s harder to over apply and damage the good turf areas.
– Targets Poa Annua and other nuisance grasses that other post-emergents don’t.
– Can be used to spot treat, or blanket spray your entire lawn.
– It’s a great choice when you are planning on seeding. Most post emergents require you wait until 3-4 weeks after application to seed. However with Tenacity you can seed on the same day of application.
– Takes awhile to see results and you may need to apply multiple times
– Instead of your weeds wilting, it leaves your weeds looking bright white as if they were bleached. This can be a bit of an eyesore as your weeds die back.
For Warm Season Grasses:
1. Celsius WG– Celsius WG is a great all around liquid post emergent that kills a large number of broadleaf weeds as well as grassy weeds. It does a great job killing a variety of clovers. Best of all this is safe to use in most warm season grass types such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, Zoysia, and Centipede.
2. Image Southern Lawn Weed Killer– This is another great all around post emergent herbicide that kills a number of broadleaf weeds, including clover. This is actually the go to post emergent I recommend in my lawn care program for warm season grass. Even though the front label says its safe on St. Augustine and Centipede, if you look at the back it says it’s also good for Bermuda, Zoysia, and Bahia.
Pre Emergent Herbicides
While pre-emergents won’t kill existing clover, or prevent it from spreading, it will prevent new clover seeds from germinating. Pre-emergent herbicides are an important part of any lawn care program and help to prevent a large variety of broad leaf weeds from emerging.
The trick to a good pre-emergent plan is correctly timing your applications based on soil temperatures. For more on an effective pre-emergent strategy check out: Lawn Care Schedule Using Only 3 Products
How to Get Rid of Clover Naturally
Manual removal of clover in your lawn can be very difficult. Since its roots are well spread, and the plant is mixed in with large sections of grass, it can be near impossible to segregate the clover from the grass.
If your looking for more effective natural ways to get rid of clover then check out: How to Get Rid Of Clover Naturally
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