En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

 

 

More Turf Questions

Growth of non-native bermudagrass in Snelville GA
July 16, 2011 - How do you grow Bermuda grass successfully in the state of Georgia? Techniques in fertilization, lawn cutting and general maintenance. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Replacing a Grass Lawn with Moss
January 02, 2010 - I have a small north facing yard that I would like to change from grass to moss. There is some moss now but still lots of grass. I need to rake a lot of leaves in the fall but want to get away from a ...
view the full question and answer

Native grass for shaded lawn in Austin
May 14, 2010 - Hello, I've read all your info on the native lawns and came by the center on Sunday. We live in Circle C and want to plant a lawn in our backyard. We don't want something that needs a lot of wate...
view the full question and answer

Invasive non-native Bermuda grass in lawns
July 30, 2007 - Hello Mr. Smarty Pants. My yard here in southwest Austin is the only lawn with Bermuda Tif 419 grass. I am surrounded by neighbors with St. Augustine. I upgraded to this hybrid Bermuda for a number of...
view the full question and answer

How much shade will Thunder Turf (Habiturf) take?
March 20, 2016 - How much shade will Thunder Turf take?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center