En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Compare Natives to Lawn for Carbon Footprint Benefits in Durham, New Hampshire
September 22, 2010 - Are there carbon sequestration rate tables for turf (lawn) and bushes, shrubs, trees? I want to compare the carbon footprint benefit of lawn versus the same area put into native plantings.
view the full question and answer

Bermuda grass and St. Augustine for lawn in Hawaii
June 21, 2009 - Is bermuda grass and st.augustine grass a good mixture for my backyard lawn?
view the full question and answer

Grassburs in native lawn in Utopia TX
June 22, 2010 - I recently planted native Texas grass (Buffalograss, blue grama & curly mesquite) at my new house in the hill country. I had to bring in all the top soil. The grass is doing great, but in one area o...
view the full question and answer

Native grass for Round Rock, Texas lawn
November 12, 2008 - Hello, I just moved into a new place and the grass in the back yard is very spotty. I would like to know the best seed to put down to cure this problem. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Mixture of native grasses as opposed to buffalo grass monoculture
November 26, 2003 - My husband and I just built our home on Lake Travis. Our lot is very rocky and is on the side of a hill. We would like to plant something on the incline at the front of our home that doesn't need a l...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center