Considering A Clover Lawn Instead Of Grass
Do you know what I realized a few days ago? I pretty much already have a clover lawn. Well, at least I think I do. I had never really paid much attention to it, because every time I look at our yard, all I see is weeds. All of my life, I’ve thought that lawns are grass. Only grass. So when I see something other than grass, my mind thinks “weeds.”
I’ve been thinking about non-grass lawns quite a bit lately since someone sent me this Instagram reel with a woman showing a different kind of ground cover. The one she shows is a succulent, and I think it’s one that thrives in California. I don’t know that it would do well here in central Texas. But it did get me thinking more about non-grass groundcovers. And then this past Tuesday, after the mowers got through mowing, edging, and cleaning up, I was actually pretty amazed at how pretty our front yard looked!
Since the day we moved into our house, we’ve never done anything to our yard. We have no landscaping, no grass, no sprinkler system. And yet, I noticed this week after the mowers left (we have our “weeds” mowed every two weeks 😀 ) that our yard actually looked really pretty! And while I don’t know much about plants, I’m pretty sure what we have is a clover lawn. Sure, there’s some grass mixed in there, but it’s at least 85% clover (or whatever this non-grass plant is).
Here’s a look at the front and side yard.
(Yes, I have a missing shutter. 🙂 It came off in a storm with crazy high winds, and I haven’t put it back up yet.)
The areas in the foreground where it looks really sparse are the areas where the gas company spent two months digging massive holes in our front yard to run new gas pipes all down our street and to each house. But even with that disturbance, it started to fill in pretty quickly. The most impressive thing is that whatever this is seems to grow beautifully in the sun and in the shade. Our huge oak tree pretty much shades our entire front yard with the exception of a couple of hours in the morning, and yet you can see how well this is growing all under the canopy of the tree.
Since I know virtually nothing about plants, I don’t know for sure that this is clover, but here’s a close up view of it. Maybe some of you can verify for me exactly what this is.
I know that micro clover lawns are becoming more popular these days since they take less maintenance and far less water than grass lawns. And while I’m quite certain that what we have is not micro clover, I can tell you that other than being mowed once every two weeks, this is a totally no maintenance yard. In the back yard, you can see that it covers everything, from the areas that get the brightest sun to the areas that stay shaded pretty much all day long.
Even the back part of our back yard beyond the tree row is covered in it and stays pretty green all on its own.
So I can’t help but wonder what this could and would look like if I put just a small bit of effort into it, like overseeding the front yard with some micro clover seed.
I’ll admit that after thinking of this groundcover as nothing but “weeds” for so long, it’s a bit of a challenge to change that mindset and see it as anything else. But after searching for and looking at some clover lawn inspiration online, I think I could make that transition. I do think this micro clover lawn is very pretty.
If you’ve given up your grass lawn for another low maintenance ground cover, I’d love to know what you think! Are you glad you went that direction? Do you miss your grass? And if any of you specifically (and intentionally) have a clover or micro clover lawn, I’d love to know how that’s going. How is the maintenance on it compared to a grass lawn? Do you have to reseed it regularly? Does it stay green and thick, or is it a constant battle to continually cover bare spots?
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I’m so interested in this topic! I’ve actually always been bothered by our grass lawn. During my childhood, my parents’ always had “weeds” instead of grass, and I thought it looked fine! It needs less maintenance and is definitely more environmentally friendly.
I’m so interested in this topic! I’ve actually always been bothered by our grass lawn. During my childhood, my parents always had “weeds” instead of grass, and I thought it looked fine! It needs less maintenance and is definitely more environmentally friendly.
In 2000 we had a new build on a hill. Torrential rains pored and we found ourselves with ruts running the hill behind the house and sparse bits of grass here and there. On advice of the builder we filled the ruts and planted clover. The roots of clover were perfect to hold the soil in place and within 3 weeks we had a lovely greenand SOFT lawn. Mowing was an every 2 week chore and the clover grew so evenly and choked out weeds! Since that time we have moved 4 times and each time planted clover. We are on our final build for our retirement. The land has beautiful grass now but if we need to we will replace with clover! Please do it! You will not regret it!
Your lawn could be covered with these: Phyllanthus Urinaria. This weed is my personal nemesis and resembles little mimosa trees. Phyllanthus urinaria is a broadleaf summer annual that is sprouting right now. As a very young plant at only a few inches in height, fruits (seeds) appear under the numerous leaves. When you try to pull them the seeds are pulled off and it just sprouts up again and is very hard to control. These have just started to become a problem in the last few years it seems, and all of a sudden they are taking over my yard. I’ve been thinking about just letting them go and mowing it like grass.
I am very interested this
Idea. We love on a farm and it has been really dry so less watering would help. I would also need to know how it tolerates cold.
It looks fine, nut I believe it’s chickweed.
I can understand your hesitancy on calling your clover/weed yard a lawn. The photos you posted shows your yard looks good as it…and all it needs is to add flower beds, sitting areas, yard art, etc. Not having all of the extra lawn care that goes with a grass lawn is good to think about. So much money is spent on keeping up an actual lawn is staggering. I think you leaving the existing lawn growth as it is and maybe adding some tiny clover would be a big money saver, keeping it up healthy time saver, and a very enjoyable place to relax.
DO IT! So much better for the local ecosystem too. I live in Florida zone 9b so I’m not sure if this is an option where you are, but I’ve looked at sunshine mimosa and it’s sooo pretty as a lawn! There are other flowering options too, some that never even need to be mowed.
I live in the same Florida zone. My mom has a native yard but be careful with mimosa. It is native but kind of an invasive native. It will sprout up every where, including the neighbors’ yards.
I’m pretty sure you have a horse herb lawn, one of the main groundcovers recommended as grass alternatives in Central Texas.
If you google it you’ll find lots of articles. We have a few little patches that I’m trying to encourage. It is such a good drought-friendly lawn alternative.
Here in FL, the counties used to seed the berms and right of way with clover. Had pretty, deep red blooms on it. Very attractive to bees and makes good honey. Now they just have people mowing the right of way and we don’t see the clover as much.
My late husband always said if it’s green and grows, he’ll mow it and call it a lawn!
Crystal, I love your husband’s thoughts, and that is exactly been my attitude in the 20+ years we have been living in Florida. I TRUELY hate trying to maintain a lawn here – weeds are constant, and I hate using all those chemicals, and water to try and maintain it. We have never started with a real lawn, so it has always been a project I don’t want to do. We are hoping to down-size in the future, and I am looking into a NO/Little lawn for us. There just HAS to be a better way – for Florida, Texas and California as well as the desert states. I keep trying to read up. Kristi, I hope you let us know what you find out!
Have you talked to the guys who mow your lawn? They must see dozens of yards each week and could probably answer some of your questions – and the advice would be local and appropriate for your climate in Waco. 😊
Clover is a great lawn! When I get my place in TX, it is what I want for any lawn area/s. I have read that a 50/50 mix with grass is ideal, but that may alter in different growing regions.
I agree with Breanna, what you have looks like horseherb but you could take some to your local Ag Extension office to confirm that. Since you’re not a big on lawn and gardening, I’d leave it alone.
I’ve admired a couple of microclover lawns and looked into DLF Pickseed’s microclover variety but other than I know they do have to be mowed periodically, I know nothing about them long term. The ones I saw were up north but you can always contact DLF Pickseed for some references on how they’ll do in the central Texas area.
I live in Canada so quite a few zones and climate between us. But it does remind me of plantain weed https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/plantain-weed that takes over yards here. I think whatever you are comfortable with for “lawn” is probably just fine.
Your idea is certainly on trend and there’s a good deal of interest in it! I’ve just recently watched a few YouTube videos. The biggest negative I’ve seen/heard about are the bees. Walking barefoot is highly ill advised. As I love walking barefoot in the grass that’s too great of a negative for me but that might not bother you. I would look into if it’s safe for your dog. I haven’t heard anything specific on that one but he doesn’t have shoes to protect him from stepping on a ground hive and my old dog used to eat them…till he got stung (but still did it over and over!). To clarify, based just on the little research I did last month, the issue with the bees is stepping on them or their hives – not just having bees in the yard (your landscape will bring lots of them)! Looking forward to hearing more as you look into it.
Keep whatever it is. Grass WILL NOT grow in shade. I don’t care what kind you try and “real” grass needs water. As long as you are happy with it keep it. A lot of my yard is creeping Charlie and I’m fine with it.
I live in Virginia and I have a Virginia Creeper lawn. I love it! It survives HOT drought conditions and is always green. All we have to do is mow it! Unless you really look at the lawn, you cannot tell it isn’t grass.
Okay, I just looked it up and I actually have a Common Violet and Virginia Creeper lawn 🙂 I love the violets because they continuously bloom with teenie tiny violet flowers all spring, summer and fall.
I’m considering doing this, just about to order some seeds. We only ever mow our lawn every 2 weeks in summer anyway, i wonder how often we would mow if say we had microclover?
The only thing I have to add to this, is living in Texas you know snakes are everywhere. If the clover is thick and taller than the grass, will that give snakes more places to hide?
Kristi, I found this article interesting with it’s “pros” and “cons” for micro clover. For us, the need to reseed every 2-3 year would be a major drawback.
oops….forgot to post the weblink: https://denresidence.com/micro-clover-lawn-pros-and-cons/
Kristi, we live south of Houston, almost to the Gulf coast. Our “yard” is 1.25 acres, heavily landscaped and was covered with St. Augustine grass when we bought the house 15 years ago. The former owner was very particular about the lawn. Since we’ve been here, we’ve had the 100 year drought in 2011, two hurricanes, years of excessive rain, extreme cold, extreme heat, and another drought. Some type of groundcover began to spread in our yard and we’ve let it spread. I’ve also spread a seed mix of Texas native flowers in the sunny areas (we are heavily shaded in most of our yard). We love it! The yard is green without having to worry about watering it on a regular basis. I don’t know how society has bought into the “grass only” mentality (which I used to agree with), but it’s too much work and water. The pollinators love the little patches of clover in our yard and our yard stays green. We have an armadillo that has decided to dig in the areas where we still have St. Augustine and it’s a mess. The areas with groundcover looks great and stands up to the heavy raccoon traffic we have around here. I say if you like your groundcover, keep it and don’t worry about grass.
I live in southwest Houston. Every Thanksgiving I have my grandsons help me spread rye seeds all over our “traditional” subdivision lawn. It looks great when the summer grass dies back and lasts until the heat sets in March/April. (90% of my front yard is perennials, working on backyard!)
De, I really appreciate your approach! I agree, I think we have been heavily sold into the idea of having a green lawn means “we’ve made it.” I love that you are embracing the natural grasses and flowers, and how your micro-climate is doing so well in it! If there is any upside to the drought we are experiencing in California, I hope its that we are more aware of the hype of having a lawn, and start changing the landscapes to reflect our arid climate. We are incorporating more native plants and adding fruit trees (and benefitting from shade), which also has brought about more pollinators and hummingbirds.
Yes to clover! We live in northern Alabama. We stopped putting herbicides/fertilizers on our lawn 3 years ago and sprinkled clover seed in March. Looked good, mingling with the grass. Second year we scattered a shorter clover seed and that was even better. Did the same this year. We currently have a mixture of clover, grass, and local plants (weeds). The larger weeds we mow or pull. My husband mows less often then when it was just grass. Insects love the flowers on the clover. The clover actually enriches the soil and is frequently used as a cover crop in agriculture. A ‘one crop’ lawn is a relatively recent invention. Check with your local county agricultural extension for types of clover that would do well in your area.
My back lawn is mostly clover due to the huge Poinciana tree that sucks the water out of everything. Looks good from the house and green all year round. Bees are an issue though when it flowers.
We have had clover mixed w violets , fescue & bermuda grass for 25 years. The clover is the majority grass. No watering, fertilizer, or herbicide. Mow every two- three weeks. Beneficial as has been pointed out.
Hi, Kristi. We have a mix of grass and clover in our yard here in Missouri. It’s been great because the clover adds nutrients to the soil. It also stays green all summer!
I live in the south & we see lots of snakes. I need a regular grass lawn & we keep it cut close so to see the snakes.
It looks like common chickweed to me……
I am in the Philadelphia area. This year we seem to have a lot of clover in our yard, as do all our neighbors. Don’t know where it came from, but we decided we love it. We have never “done” anything to our lawn except mow when necessary (usually), and due to really letting it go several times, we have mostly weeds and crabgrass growing. I researched clover lawns, and apparently clover was always a part of traditional grass seed mixes, because the clover fixes nitrogen in the soil and helps the grass seed grow. It was taken out of the mixes when chemical companies wanted to promote chemical fertilizers instead.
Clover will also crowd out weeds. We ordered Dutch white clover seeds and are in the process of sowing them to fill in areas. It grows about 4-6 inches high and you can mow it if you want, and if you don’t, at least it doesn’t look terrible. I wanted this type for the flowers, to attract pollinators. We have bunnies in our yard this year, and I noticed they don’t really eat my veggies, because they prefer the clover. It’s actually a legume. I did read that bears like it lol.
Now I am thinking of ordering microclover seeds for the front lawn. No flowers, still benefits the soil, and only grows a few inches high, so no mowing – yay!
The groundcover/lawn that I think you are referring to and is very popular in Southern California landscaping is called Dichondra. It is mowed much less than grass and is a beautiful thick carpet in your yard. It does lol similar to clover, but nothing appears weed like. Dichondra isn’t as rugged as grass if you have pets or children playing on it, but it is gorgeous.
I tried replacing my grass with clover that I bought as seed from Amazon. Although it said it was supposed to only get a few inches tall I had clover up to my knees very quickly! Who knew clover grew so tall? The pollinators loved it, but my neighbors not so much!
I have one word on clover- DON’T.
Didn’t your landscaper tell you to leave whatever is there as grass? So he noticed the growth – maybe give him a call, see if he knows/remembers what exactly it is? After all, it’s only been a few months since he came there.
But definitely let it be! It’s there, it’s pretty, it’s free, it doesn’t need upkeep! It seems very counter-productive to TRY to eradicate it (you may not be able to) to replace it with something that will cost money and it will be a continuous nuisance to take care of (both in effort and money). Spend the money on flowers, you have tons of them to buy!
As for the less dense patches, maybe try watering them before planting something else? Perhaps softening the ground will do the trick and allow your green friends to grow there too. Or alternatively, if the landscaper knows what exactly you have, maybe he can recommend something to seed, that plays well with it!
Look up ground cover clover. It looks like it. Clover grows easily and provides food for animals.
My miracle solution in one word is Zoysia. It’s a terrific grass for warm weather and can handle cold as far as the Midwest. I think the weeds in your pic may be ground ivy. Not a good weed to have.
Up here in Northern Ontario we have the same grass problems / issues so I plant my whole lawn in White Clover. It grows in thick with no maintenance. I leave large patches to mature and produce its white sweet smelling, necrar ladden flowers that all types of bees etc. love, they are there constantly, every day harvesting. What you are showing does not look like the clover I am familiar with, let a few areas grow to maturity to varify / compare their flowers with a clover flower. Good luck !
Kristi, the first thing you should do is download an app that identifies plants. Photograph your mystery ground cover, and find out what it is. You can also pull up some and take it to your local nursery or to a demonstration nursery run by local master gardeners. They will be able to talk to you knowledgeably about this plant and other alternatives.
Please also talk to the native plant societies there in Texas. They will make great suggestions to you as well. And contact your county extension agent for drought tolerant plants that will survive in your particular climate and with your particular rainfall patterns. You want to work with your climate rather that impose something from some other area that may be beautiful, but will not thrive.
I echo all Christine says. Yes to looking up your local U-Extension to see what they say. Note scientific names as many weeds have similar common names.
Please also can you add some better close up photos? It’s hard to tell what you have.
I think it’s Dutch White Clover and some other “weeds”.
It’s cool you mention this because I just ordered white clover (Trifolium repens) to interseed with the grass on our lawn and in bare spots. I wonder if you have Black Medic ( Medicago lupulina) too, a clover like plant with tiny yellow Pom pom flowers. It’s a common lawn weed.
I think you would be fine with white clover, not mini, and if you don’t want the flowers, just mow it. Order the seeds from a reputable merchant, not Amazon.
I’d look into a low-mow/no mow option grass that works for TX…Buffalo Grass? You want a warm season grass.
I’m in the MW and use a low-mow mix of fine fescue grass (at Prairie Moon Nursery) and will interseed with clover.
Other resident weeds are black medic, violets, dandelions and plaintain, chickweed and (sigh) Creeping Charlie. We do nothing except mow and hand pull certain weeds and it stays green (except summer)
So kudos to considering low mow lawn alternatives!
Looks like you’re onto something. I just spotted this article in the NYTimes, and thought of you.
Clover Lawns Are Blooming in Front Yards, and on TikTok
Amid droughts and extreme heat, people are welcoming clover into their lawns, an alternative to the purely grass lawn, helping them save water and money.
I’m going to point you to the Ladybird Johnson center which can be your go-to for ground covers that thrive where you are.
Native grass lawns
Q on native grasses/grouncover
If you’re not picky about mixing clover with these native ground covers, looks like you’re on your way to a low-mow lawn that will work for your region.
I love that you’re looking into more water-savvy options! I hope you’re able to find one that works for you! We have a grass lawn, but in Indiana it stays pretty green most of the time without watering. And if it goes dormant and not as green during the hottest and driest parts of the summer then, so be it. I’m not watering!
You don’t need an App to ID it. If you take a good pic of it with your iPhone then you can ID it (works with all kinds of things like cats, dogs, etc). Take pic, go to the pic in camera roll and look for the star next to the “i” for info (sometimes a leaf icon will appear in pic too). Click on the “i” or the leaf and then “Look Up.” My phone says it’s either IVY-LEAVED SPEEDWELL or just SPEEDWELL. This might be mis-identified because it’s just a so-so pic. Get a good, close-up and I’m sure you’ll be able to ID it better than I did.
We’re in San Diego and we pulled all of the grass in our back yard due to drought and it was half dead and ugly. A CA waterwise program (turf removal) paid us to remove it so we used that money to plant California natives and succulents- both of which use much less water and attract all kinds of birds, bees, and lizards. We now have a gorgeous, lush backyard and pool area that requires minimal watering and upkeep. The front yard is almost twice as large and will be next!
Thank you for this information! I had no idea I could id plants from pictures on my phone.
I have terribly poor soil, even though I fertilize and have added many loads of black dirt hauled in, I have to seed repeatedly. The only thing that grows well and spreads is clover, and it’s beautiful! It’s terribly expensive here in Michigan, but I add some each year. I love it and it’s maintenance free.
When Clover is the main plant growing in a area or region most times is a sign that the soil is lacking certain nutrients depleted if you will. Clover makes a great cover crop for farmlands during the off seasons. If clover is allowed to thrive say a garden or a field that grows vegetables for human consumption. Clover as it goes back to the Earth creates high levels of nitrogen naturally. I know it might sound a little strange but clover is attracted to depleted soil. Nature’s Way of replenishing the soil naturally. And like stated in the video doesn’t require a whole lot of maintenance and or water to stay green all year round. Another win-win about clover is the endangered species the honeybees as honey bees are a vital part of the food chain as they aid in the pollination of plants. Clover honey is very nutritious.As the clover plant it self is as well.. What we are traditionally taught are weeds a lot of times these so-called weeds are more nutritious than the vegetables that we maintain harvest and consume. Traditional grass lawns offer so many negatives they outweigh the few positives. Yes grass is good for land erosion but offers no human nutritions. Grassy lawns also require maintenance oftentimes harsh chemicals are used to control pests weeds and or enhance growth. And on the flip side of the process contaminants enter the groundwater.My neighbors family friends so on do not understand why I do not keep grass in my yard. They also do not understand why I allow what is growing to become large enough to produce seeds for regeneration of the said plants for the next growing season. Weeds or plants if you will such as dandelions wild lettuce that looks very similar to the dandelion as far as the foliage. Dandelion greens are more nutritional than any form of greens that we maintain such as spinach to harvest for consumption… Awareness is the key thing. Education to the plants of the land provided by nature. In short learning to identify edible plants of the land.. Wild lettuce is a perfect example. There are two different types. One offers a very nutritional addition to the food chain. The other offers municipal properties and one must know the difference in the identification of these plants. Put short the medicinal plants offer properties oftentimes compared to medications that you are prescribed by a doctor. The importance of plant identification before consuming plants of nature is vital. Just like drugs municipal plants are very easy to overdose on so to speak. Used properly municipal plants offer great medical properties such as prescription medicines.”I know right”..I could go on and on with this subject.. It makes me feel good videos like this anyways. Glad to see others at least willing to learn an alternative too traditional ways.. Put very bluntly not all traditions are for the better of our welfare or the welfare of the planet.. Check out the Facebook group “Clean Water Warriors” it’s a new group put up to aid in the fit for clean water..✌️🙂