P&PDL Picture of the Week for
June 8, 2009

White Clover in Home Lawns

Zac Reicher, Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University

The small white flowers of white clover are very visible right now and it may appear that clover is taking over your lawn, especially under-fertilized turf areas. Clover is a legume and is very competitive under low N conditions, so increasing annual N is best method to help exclude this weed as well as mowing at 3 inches or higher. However, its spreading stolons make it difficult to control once it’s established in a turf because herbicides often have a difficult time translocating through stolons.  Herbicides applied now are not as effective as fall applications, and so most homeowners are better off waiting to apply in October. Some professional use products that are more effective than those available for homeowners, so you might consider hiring a professional now for this project. Consider the following if you chose to apply now:

  • Insure that the clover and grass are well-watered and not under stress

  • Avoid making herbicide applications when temperatures are above 80 degrees F because turf burn is likely and control will be less effective.

  • If granular products are used, these must be applied to wet or dew-covered leaves

  • Avoid applying when rain is in the forecast for the next 12 hours.

  • Chose a product containing quinclorac or dicamba, 2,4-D alone will not control clover effectively.

  • Plan on making another application this fall for best control.

Click image to enlarge

White clover

The flowers of white clover are clearly visible in lower fertility turf areas. Though herbicide applications made now will help control clover, fall applications are still preferred for maximum efficacy.

White clover

Clover is a legume and prefers competes favorably with turf in low N lawns. Note the presence of clover in the under-fertilized off-color portion of this lawn compared to the lack of clover in the fertilized portion (Not necessarily a good representation of how to fertilize a lawn however!!!)

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service