Many homeowners consider white clover a nuisance and would like to eradicate it from their yards and gardens, mainly because of the amount of bees it attracts. Removing white clover from your yard is an easy task if you know why it’s there in the first place. There are a few no-mess ways to reverse this problem without using fertilizer or chemicals.
Option 1: Clip the Clover
White clover takes over lawns that are nitrogen-starved, as it fixes nitrogen into the soil into a form that is useful to other plants. Therefore, if your lawn has less than 5 percent clover coverage, you can create a nitrogen balance in your soil simply by clipping the clover before it goes to seed. Leave the clippings on the lawn, and the clover will fertilize the yard without spreading. You could also choose to cut your grass high instead, thereby preventing sunlight from reaching the clover’s seeds.
Option 2: Apply Sugar
While amending the nitrogen balance in your soil is the most effective and longest lasting way to remove white clover from your yard, there are other ways. Another easy and relatively inexpensive method is to hand-sprinkle about 5 lbs. of sugar per every 1,000 square feet, and then saturate the lawn. This can only be done in early spring, however, as it prevents any seedlings from developing. Alternatively, you can use Corn Gluten Meal at a measurement of 20 lbs. per 1,000 square feet. In either case, you should saturate the lawn after pouring either the sugar or Corn Meal Gluten over it, and then let it dry out.
Option 3: Pour Vinegar
If none of these methods work, or if you find it’s too late in the year to apply them, there are more drastic measures you can take. Applying white vinegar to the affected area will result in a soil too acidic for the clover to survive. However, you will need to dig up the dead debris, plug in new top soil and re-seed with grass.
Option 4: Use a Soil Plugger
No matter how maddening white clover infestations may be, it is not recommended to physically (or mechanically) remove them from your yard. During the weeding process, the stolons—the part of the stem right above and just below the ground—may break off and actually sprout, causing an increase in growth. If you plan on digging up the clover while it is still alive, and you have a a yard that is close-cut, the best way to do it is by using a soil plugger, and not by hand. Soil pluggers get deep into the ground and will greatly reduce the risk of spreadage or survival.
If you have a large area that needs to be de-clovered, digging it up may be exhausting. If your nitrogen balance is not properly tuned, the clover will come back next year. Proactive management practices will create a balanced yard and make it difficult for clover to take over.