Nine months out of the year, dead grass covered the lawn. With the ongoing drought in California, we just don’t see the point in watering a large grassy area. While letting the grass go yellow has been the solution in the past – this year we decided to get rid of the grass and grow a clover lawn.
Additionally, crabgrass, fox tails, and other prickly weeds had also taken over the large front yard, making it pretty unpleasant for humans and dogs to enjoy. What a waste!
My goal was to transform this dead/wasteful lawn into an attractive, sustainable space. Follow along as I replace this eyesore of a front lawn with an eco-friendly lawn alternative – clover!
Clover is a great grass lawn alternative and clover lawns have many benefits.
1. Clover is drought resistant, and requires much less water than grass lawns.
2. Clover does not require fertilizer and can grow in just about any soil.
4. Clover is durable and can withstand foot traffic. It’s great around paths and in yards.
3. Clover is low maintenance. Mowing your clover is an option, doing so will keep the plant compact, while letting your clover grow can add height to a lawn.
5. Additionally, unlike grass, clover can withstand dog urine – which is helpful if you’ve got lots of four-legged neighbors.
Which clover is right for me?
There are many varieties of clover available. White clover is a popular pick and comes in standard and micro-size varieties. Crimson clover is another popular pick for those who are looking to add color to their lawn. These clovers are widely available in garden stores and online.
Clovers that are native to your region are the best clover to grow. For example, Tomcat clover, a vibrant pink clover, is native to the west coast and is a great, native clover for the area.
Going from grass to clover
Prep and Seeding
To go from grass to clover, we first removed the existing grass lawn. This meant digging up the grass and the top 6 inches of soil with it to rip out the grass root system.
Next, we replaced the topsoil with bags of garden soil. In all, it took 10 or so bags to cover the exposed dirt.
Using a mix of clover, I threw seeds to cover the soil. Next, I threw a thin layer of soil to provide a 1/4-inch layer on top of the seeds. I watered generously.
I continued watering in the evenings for two weeks.
After two weeks, groupings of seedlings popped up across the yard. Edges and a couple of downslope areas seemed to be doing the best. Water is key in getting your clover to take, initially.
After two months, the lawn is a bit patchy. The areas that receive more shade are doing better than the side of the grass that is in bright sunlight for most of the day.
We’re dealing with some pretty pesky crabgrass, and reseeded the clover over the grass to fight it off a bit. I used Tomcat clover to reseed, excited to reintroduce a native plant into the area.
Overall, I love the look of clover and the journey from grass to clover is one that I’m happy to make. It’s certainly a learning process, and as I learn more about natives, I look forward to using those as much as possible.
Any ideas about keeping crabgrass at bay?