A brief history:
Clover used to be a standard ingredient in grass seed mixes. Before World War II, White Dutch clover was prominent in lawns.But after petrochemical-based weed killers were introduced, these products killed weeds – and clover. Since then, the lawn plant has been looked down on as a weed, when, in fact, it has many benefits for lawns.
Clover, like all legumes, takes nitrogen from the air and through a chemical reaction, deposits it in the ground as an absorbable fertilizer. In lawns, it provides a constant trickle of of fertilizer to itself and surrounding grasses – making the whole lawn more lush, green, and healthy.
Dog owners usually have brown spots in their lawn from from their pet’s urine. Unlike grass, clover is highly resistant to this and helps maintain a uniformly green lawn. You won’t have as many ‘spots’ in your lawn if you have clover.
Clover smells good. A clover-rich yard smells light and fresh when mowed, unlike yards with heavy chemicals.
Clover grows deep roots and needs less water to stay green than grasses. If you see clover patches in lawns in the summer, it is usually green, while the rest of the lawn is brown and dormant. Clover spread throughout a lawn can can make it appear green year round.
If you have never thought about the lack of diversity in grass for lawns, now is the time to do that. Ecologists often view grass as ill-suited for a habitat because it’s simply not diverse. That’s where clover comes in. Its nectar attracts bees and other important insects, such as parasitoid wasps (these wasps prey on harmful bugs). You might think of bees as pesky but they help sustain fruit trees, flowers, vegetables, and other plants. In turn, the variety of plants will increase the diversity of insects and their predators, keeping your lawn’s insects under control. The more diverse a lawn, the better off it is.
Starting to see a pattern? Clover is GOOD for your lawn (and if you’re lucky you just might find a four-leaf clover).