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Clover

Symptoms

A plant with shamrock-like leaves and white flowers, that spreads quickly via runners, and smothers other plants.
Find it on: all over the garden, especially lawns
Time to act: spring to autumn

Overview

Clover, most commonly Trifolium repens, is a perennial weed with shamrock-like leaves and fragrant white flowers. It colonises gardens and lawns using runners that fix into the ground, and competes with other plants for space to grow. Once it's established in your garden it will quickly spread, causing particular problems when it appears in the lawn, as it's difficult to remove.
Solution
A plant with shamrock-like leaves and white flowers, that spreads quickly via runners, and smothers other plants.
Organic
In the lawn, your best bet is to dig out affected areas and replace patches of lawn with weed-free turf. In other parts of the garden, just dig it out. Mind you, it's worth bearing in mind clover has nitrogen-fixing nodules on its roots, so it acts as an excellent green manure when dug back into the soil.
Chemical
In lawns, use a weedkiller such as a 2, 4-D-based herbicide in spring or early summer, when growth is at its most vigorous. Repeat throughout summer where necessary. Apply in cool, moist, calm conditions when there's least risk of accidentally damaging nearby garden plants.



Discuss this problem

Talkback: Clover
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FlamingJune 24/11/2011 at 15:28

I prefer to encourage clover in my lawn, the bees love it. So if any of you out there in BBC land want to do an article on how best to do this I'd be more than grateful. I'm trying to get maximum clover cover, purple if possible. Sounds crazy I know, but I have four lilacs, so the lawn is never going to be pristine.

Amanda_Plant 24/11/2011 at 15:29

Please encourage people to grow clover for the bees. It is an outrage that a website like this is telling people to put weedkiller on plants like these. Clover is essential for the garden. It is useful food for pollinators and a nitrogen fixing plant. The leaves, stems, flowers, roots and seeds can all be eaten raw.

Chromebaby 09/04/2012 at 08:14

Mmm. More bad advice. The info here should be rewritten to take into account that clover is incredibly important for bees. Some kind of disclaimer at least.

I've bought clover as wildflowers from garden centers and inserted them into my lawn. The bees go crazy for the lovely purple or white flowers.

Musical Cricketer 22/06/2012 at 11:36

I noticed a small patch of clover in my lawn last year but did little about it except apply lawn fertilizer with weedkiller in it. The patch is still there this year but now is beginning to spread. Should I use verdone weedkiller on it as the instructions say that it will not affect the surrounding turf? I have tried to pull some roots out by hand but this is causing brown patghes to appear.

Alina W 22/06/2012 at 11:58

Any lawn weedkiller will not affect the surrounding turf, but you need to read the bottle carefully to make sure that it will treat your particular weed. You will need to treat it more than once for some weeds.

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