Our new Church (in Maine) has a very large lawn area on leveled,
post-build-new-lot soil, which is not too good
(since the next addition will go there, eventually). It has spotty lawn at the
edges while the remainder is
flush with clover.
My current plan is to leave the clover until it seeds, then mow it to about 2-3"
and allow grass to start
establishing itself. I would do this every year.
I want the clover since it adds nitrogen to the soil, but am I going down the
wrong path and is there a better plan?
In the areas away from the church proper where there is grass, it is spotty and
separated by lots of bare earth.
The area around the church has better soil and is doing fairly well.
It is interesting that, as a beekeeper, I tried to plant a field of clover, but
the grass took it over in about
three years, so I am thinking that the same might happen here.
The clover needs to have as much leaf surface exposed to the sun, as
possible, in order to fix the nitrogen in the soil.
A couple notes about what the clover (or any other legume) actually does...
1. The legume takes in the nitrogen from the air and the soil. It's not in
a form that plants can use, though. The legume doesn't even really do the
fixing. It's bacteria (Rhizobium) that lives in nodes on the roots of the
legume, that do all the work.
2. The bacteria turn the nitrogen gas into ammonia (NH3), that converts to
ammonium (NH4), which /can/ be used by the plant. It's the same form as
ammonium nitrate (34-0-0) and ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) that is sold as
4. You need a way to transfer the nitrogen to the surrounding grass. Just
having the clover growing there, won't do the trick. You need either a herd
of grazing livestock (they'll excrete the nitrogen all over the place ),
and/or decomposition of the dead legume material. This means letting the
plant mature fully, die, and be absorbed back into the soil. You can speed
this up by tilling the legume into the soil. But, that leaves you with:
5. The nitrogen fixed by the legume is only going to be available to the
grass that immediately follows the legume's growing season.
So, now you'll have a muddy field to seed/sod/water/water/pray/water/etc.
Major renovation is a lot of work. ;)
 This is good... 80-90% of the nitrogen will be absorbed, processed, and
pass through the animals. The bummer is, about 50% of what passes through,
will be lost through evaporation.
HTH, I know a lot of people that think that just having clover in an area
is good for the grass. It is, but there's a whole lot more to it than that.
-I know it sounds like I'm in denial, but I'm not.
You stated reasons for having the clover in the lawn. I was simply trying
to point out the "why's" of having clover in a lawn in the first place, and
what you'd need to do to take advantage of what a legume does. Mowing it
low does little good (and is probably detrimental to the benefits of having
the clover). It's probably best to just kill it off, as any other weed.
Did you not read my first reply?
The best way to take advantage of the nitrogen fixation, is to let the
clover mature fully, die, and decompose back into the soil. It doesn't put
ten years of nitrogen back into your soil. It's like doing one application
of N to your lawn.
Please adjust your word-wrap. Thanks.
-Bills travel through the mail at twice the speed of checks.
Also, I would not just mow and pray for grass to establish itself.
Some kind of mix of weeds and grasses will eventually take over. But
most of those grasses are not ones that i would want to look at. If
you want grass, buy a high quality seed appropriate for the conditions
and seed it in the Fall.
One of the common herbicide companies, might be Ortho?, makes a
product specifically labeled for clover and similar. Don't remember
what chemical they used, but I'd look for it at the garden shop. I
used it and it worked. Clover is harder to kill than typical
broadleaf weeds because it has a waxy type leaf.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.