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Wednesday - October 01, 2008

From: The Woodlands, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Turf
Title: Clover for possible lawn area in The Woodlands, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have two areas in my large lawn that grass refuses to grow. I am thinking of seeding with clover which old lawns used to always have. Which clover will grow in this area? Where do I find seeds and how do I plant?


Before we talk about clover or anything else in your lawn, we need to find out why grass will not grow in those spaces. Too much shade? Clovers, as well as grasses, need full sun; i.e., 6 or more hours a day. Tree roots beneath the soil blocking the grass roots and denying them access to the moisture and nutrients in the soil? Clover isn't going to like that, either. Rock-hard construction fill, without any organic matter available to plants? Ditto, ditto. So, before you go to the trouble and expense of planting clover or any other ground cover, find out why the grass is not flourishing there, and correct the problem. 

Apparently, you're not the only one to consider this, as we found this website from Landscape.about called Clover Lawns vs. Lawn Grass. On the other hand, when you Google on "clover for lawns" you get a number of articles about how to kill off the clover in lawns. We do have several native clovers in our Native Plant Database; they have lovely flowers and attract bees and other pollinators. However, they also grow from 1 to 3 feet tall. We don't know where in The Woodlands you live, but we're betting it's not okay for you to have 3 foot flowering plants in the middle of your lawn. Of course, they can be mowed along with the grass, but then you've lost part of the point of having clover. The three native clovers that you can consider are:

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea (purple prairie clover) - could not find seed availability

Dalea multiflora (roundhead prairie clover) - Round Head Clover available at Native American Seed

Dalea candida var. candida (white prairie clover) - White Prairie Clover at Native American Seed

Seeds ordered from that supplier usually have planting instructions. 

If that's not going to work for you, there are some other low-growing native plants. They're not grasses, and they are called "weeds" a lot of places, and might not take real close scrutiny from the Lawn Police in your neighborhood, but they are green, and will often grow where other things will not. They may already be growing in your lawn or flower beds.

Calyptocarpus vialis (straggler daisy) - perennial, shade tolerant, moderate foot traffic

Dichondra carolinensis (Carolina ponysfoot) - perennial, part shade to sun

Hydrocotyle bonariensis (largeleaf pennywort) - part shade to sun

If you can't find a start of one of these around, you can go back to Native American Seed and see if they sell seeds of these plants. 

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea

Dalea multiflora

Dalea candida var. candida

Calyptocarpus vialis

Dichondra carolinensis

Hydrocotyle bonariensis



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