White Clover Weed Information
Other Names: White Clover is also known as clover, honeysuckle colver, and purplewort
Scientific Name: Trifolium repens
Life Cycle: Broadleaf Perennial
How To Identify White Clover
White Clover is distinguished by three leaflets joined together at the base without stalks. White clover has crescent shaped white marks on its leaves and white flowers appear in the summer. White clover is usually found in lawns that lack nutrients. The nutrient that is usually lacking is nitrogen. White Clover hosts rhizobacteria which provides nitrogen for white clover. This makes clover very competitive in low fertility lawns. White Clover normally blooms between late spring and early fall. During a dry summer, clover will die off because it does not do well in drought conditions.
How to get rid of White Clover
Clover is a perennial so like other perennial weeds, pre-emergent herbicides do not get rid of clover. There are two herbicides that we have found do a great job at controlling clover. First, there is T-Zone Turf Herbicide which contains triclopyr which does a great job at killing most broadleaf weeds. Drive XLR8 or Quinclorac which is known for killing crabgrass, also gets rid of clover in a lawn fast without killing the grass. If you use T-zone Turf Herbicide to get rid of clover, be sure to use a Non-Ionic surfactant like Southern Ag Surfactant for Herbicides so the herbicide sticks to the clover better. If you use Drive XLR8 use Southern Ag Methylated Seed Oil Surfactant.
From our experience, the best time to get rid of clover is in the fall as herbicide treatments are the most effective. However, we have had success killing clover from late May to October.
How to Kill Clover
Fall and late spring is the best time to kill clover in your lawn. Clover is easily killed by using a herbicide. Be sure that you use a selective herbicide to kill clover and not grass surrounding it. If you use a non-selective herbicide that contains clover, you will kill the grass. Many experts will argue about what herbicides work the best, but at we have spray clover in thousands of customers lawns, and have came to the conclusion that one herbicide outperforms the rest:
Based on years of experience, T-zone SE Broadleaf Herbicide gets rids of clover the fastest. T-zone Herbicide has 7.72% Triclopyr and 29.32% 2,4-D for active ingredients. These two ingredients are known to to be very effective in killing clover. To help the T-zone stick to the clover instead of running off the petals, I recommend that you mix a two table spoons of non-ionic surfactant. Surfactant is cheap and it allows you to use less expensive T-zone on the weed.
If you are a homeowner, and cannot afford to pay for a commercial herbicide like T-zone, I recommend using Gordons Trimec 992 Broadleaf Herbicide. It will not be as effective, but it is half the price of T-Zone and is a commercial grade product.
To spray herbicide and get rid of clover, the proper equipment is necessary. Nitrile Chemical Resistant Gloves should always be warn for your own safety! We use Chapin Pro Series Backpack sprayers to spray the weeds in our customer’s lawns. They are cheap, and very well made.
How to get rid of Clover naturally
If you want to get rid of clover naturally, it is important to recognize why you have clover in your lawn. Many times lawns that are deficient in nutrients like nitrogen tend to grow clover. It is possible to get rid of clover naturally by growing a thick lawn and adding nutrients to the soil. You can add nutrients to your soil which an Organic fertilizer like Safer Brand Ringer Lawn Restore. This fertilizer is made naturally using plant based nutrients and has 10% nitrogen in it. Multiple applications of fertilizer as well as consistent watering, and mowing your lawn at a high setting are necessary to get rid of clover.
How to get rid of clover in lawn naturally
Fertilize: White Clover is very hard to control once it starts growing in your lawn. It can survive in lawns with low nitrogen which means it can grow in very poor conditions. The best thing you can do to make sure white clover does not show up in your lawn, is fertilize it regularly with a fertilizer high in nitrogen. The turf will be able to compete with the white clover and choke it out. Find a fertilizer that has a high amount of nitrogen and apply it Late Spring. We use Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed on lawns that we know are Nitrogen deficient. Be sure to apply the right amount, or you risk burning up the lawn if you apply to much nitrogen!
Remove it: A fast and easy way to get rid of clover is to remove it manually with a spade. Clover does not have a deep root system, so it is very easy to remove from the ground. Be sure to plant some grass seed after you pull it out, else weeds will grow back again! For those that live in the north, we recommend Pennington Smart Seed-Perennial Rye Blend. Perennial ryegrass has good traffic tolerance and can withstand droughts. It is also much cheaper than other grass types.
Corn Gluten: Apply corn gluten to the clover in late August once the summer heat is starting to fade away. Corn Gluten has no effect on existing weeds, but will killweed seeds before they germinate. It take about three to five years for the corn gluten to make a difference in your lawn. This is not a “quick-fix” solution, but it is all natural.
Vinegar and Dish Soap: A popular homemade clover killer is vinegar and dish soap. These two ingredients can be somewhat effective when applied to clover. However, in my past experience, vinegar and dish soap is not toxic enough to prevent clover from recovering. It would be wise to consider a different solution to get rid of clover.
Raise your mower deck: Many homeowners mow their lawn short, so they do not have to mow it for a long time. However, this creates a breeding ground for weeds including clover. If you raise your mower deck and consistently mow your lawn once a week, your grass should be able to get rid of clover by itself!
Let it grow: If the only weed you have in your lawn is clover, your lawn will still look okay. When clover is not flowering, it blends in with the grass surround it. The clover in your lawn also helps your grass stay healthy by giving it excess nitrogen. I know many customers who do not want us to get rid of clover in their lawn!