Planting clover instead of grass has numerous benefits. First, it is very low maintenance (and also cost-effective) so you can spend more time doing other things, such as landscaping or gardening activities you enjoy more. Clover will also naturally aerate and enrich your soil by taking nitrogen from the air and adding it to the soil, which is a good thing if you ever decide to switch back to a traditional grass lawn.
You won’t experience any weed problems with clover either, since it will choke out every other plant nearby. It is drought tolerant too; because its roots are longer, they can reach water that hides at deeper levels in the ground. The flowers of clover will attract honeybees, which are beneficial for the environment and for the rest of your garden, and it feels nice to walk on clover (as long as you keep an eye out for those honeybees). Not to mention, when working with clover, you won't need any fertilizer or pesticides.
Step 1 - Purchase the Right Seed
We'll assume you're starting the planting process with a lawn area that has been stripped, and you are left with bare soil. You’ll want to wait until spring arrives to plant your clover, so when you’re ready, go to the feed store and buy about five dollars’ worth of Dutch clover seeds. This amount will be enough to handle an average-sized lawn. Generally, 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of white clover seed will cover 1000 square feet.
Step 2 - Rake and Seed
Next, rake the soil as flat as possible. It doesn't have to be perfect; just be sure most of the major hills have been eliminated. Mix your clover seed with some soil using a wheelbarrow as a "bowl." The soil you use can be common garden soil or any kind of dirt. Mix in the seed until you have about four per square inch. Then spread this mix evenly over your entire lawn.
Tip: Clover grows best in fertile, moist soil, with a pH around 6.5.
Step 3 - Cover the Seeds
Once you complete this step, go back to where you started and cover everything you put down with another layer of soil—about 1/4 of an inch this time. Straw can also be used to cover the seeds. A thin layer will help keep them from washing away and keep them moist, for good germination.
Be careful not to pack it too tightly or the clover sprouts will have a tough time breaking through. Water the soil lightly, taking care not to wash away any seeds. Try not to walk on your newly planted lawn for at least a week, and remember to keep the soil moist at all times. Within two weeks, you should see clover sprouts all over your lawn.
Tip: Keep the soil moist watering at least daily (possibly more often if it is sunny) until you see the seeds start to grow, then reduce watering.
Step 4 - Maintain Your Lawn
After your clover is grown, don't water more than once per week since, as we mentioned previously, it has deep roots and is drought-resistant. When you water, water deeply to encourage deep roots.
Allowing your clover to flower and go to seed will help maintain your clover lawn year after year. However, after two or three years, the lawn may need additional seed or may require reseeding altogether. Depending upon your area and type of clover, it can reach up to six inches in height or more (but usually a lot lower than that) before it stops growing. Because the cuttings from clover can become quite messy, some people simply let it grow to full height and don’t mow at all.
Drawbacks of Clover
Clover will stain clothing and it’s difficult to get out, so children should be careful when playing. They must also take care when going barefoot on the lawn since they could step on the stingers of honeybees. In some cases, bee populations can increase drastically due to your clover, so if this becomes a problem, you may reconsider keeping a clover lawn.
If you have a certain area that gets heavy foot traffic, it might be best to put down some stones for walking, since clover gets trampled easily and isn't great at springing back up.
Tip: When establishing your clover lawn, grass weeds can become a problem. Control them by mowing the lawn until the clover is three inches tall, at which point the clover will be able to trump the grasses on its own.
Be sure to keep an eye out for any four-leaf clovers that you can pick and enjoy the lush look of your new lawn!