Clover is Not a Weed

I’m jumping over a four leaf clover!

Once upon a time, before the advent of synthetic weed killers for the lawn in the late 1940s, most American lawns contained white clover. Because no formulation of weed control could be developed that left both grass and clover, but killed everything else, clover was then lumped in with the weeds in subsequent marketing campaigns.

The scientist who developed 2,4-D, the most common synthetic herbicide, was publicly apologetic because his new product had the unfortunate side effect of eliminating clover. “The thought of white Dutch clover as a lawn weed will come as a distinct shock to old-time gardeners,” wrote Dr. R. Milton Carleton in his book, A New Way to Kill Weeds in 1957. “I can remember the day when lawn mixtures were judged for quality by the percentage of clover seed they contained. The higher this figure, the better the mixture.”

Today’s newfound emphasis on natural lawn care has folks taking a second look at clover as a primary lawn plant. The benefits are numerous:

Six Good Reasons White Clover Is Not a Weed

  1. It’s low growing and needs little mowing.
  2. It’s evergreen even in the coldest climates.
  3. It’s drought tolerant, requiring little if any supplemental water once established.
  4. It’s a fertilizer factory for grass and other plants since clover has the ability to store atmospheric nitrogen in its root systems.
  5. It masks the presence of other weeds in the lawn.
  6. It resists insects and diseases, especially the white grubs that can be a major lawn nemesis.

Paul Tukey is the founder of See all his Organic Lawn Care Tips.