Monday, April 7, 2008

Clover Lawns Protect the Environment and Beautify Your Yard

My new blogger friend Esther commented on yesterday's blog that she wanted further explanation for my attraction to clover lawns. I realized I've only mentioned that I've become a big fan of them, but I haven't explained myself.

As we all know, keeping a grass lawn green takes a lot of water and often a lot of chemicals. I have been convinced by a fellow gardener that American's attraction to grass was the result of clever marketing. We deem clover a weed, but how many of us have ever seen a full clover lawn?

It is a beautiful site. While interviewing gardeners for my upcoming book, I met Cindy. She is the first proponent for the clover lawn whom I have ever met. Here is why:
  • Clover stays green without chemicals
  • It takes little water
  • It maintains the health of the soil - proper nutrients, proper animal life, healthy microorganisms thrive in a clover lawn
  • It takes less mowing than grass
  • It is softer under foot than grass
  • It is gorgeous!
Here is a photo of Cindy's lawn:

Eleanor Perenyi in her book Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden espouses the benefits of "alternative" lawns. She says, "Alternatives are few, but there is one I would commend to lawn-lovers in the North: that old favorite, white clover (Trifolium repens). Clover lawns aren't new and time was when all good grass mixtures included clover seed. Clover will grow almost anywhere that isn't too dry or too hot, isn't particular about soil (which benefits by adding nitrogen), makes a dense, weed resistant carpet that cuts mowing by half, greens up early...The real reason you don't see clover any more is that it is killed by broad-leaved herbicides...Once again a good thing is pushed off the market for reasons that have nothing to do with the consumer's interests" (p. 115) Perenyi wrote this almost thirty years ago. It's time to bring back the clover lawn!


David Perry said...

Nicely thought out and stated. You got me thinking. Thanks.

Esther Montgomery said...

Yes, that is interesting.

The grass at the front of my house is always sparse (very dry, impacted soil) and children walk on it so much, it simply wears away.

I'd better consider clover!



Rachel said...

I think using clover as groundcover (at the very least) is a great idea. In fact, I keep thinking I should "liberate" some of the clover that I pass every day when walking to work, because I know it's considered a weed where it is, and it doesn't have to be! Another advantage to white clover is that bees love it. I feel very strongly that it's in my best interest to make my garden a hospitable habitat for bees.

Thanks for the ideas! I need to let them percolate a bit.

Rachel @ in bloom

Jake said...

I am currently seeding Dutch White Clover in my existing grass/weed lawn and am documenting my progress on a blog. What fun!