If you have a grass lawn on your property, you already know how much they suck. Grass is fragile, fickle, and expensive to maintain. Lawns suck your time and energy and are pretty much ecological disasters in many ways, ranging from water use to the reduction of natural habitats—plus they’re a pain in the ass to maintain. That’s why there’s a slow-motion rebellion against grass lawns going on. Recently, social media has been buzzing with an alternative to the traditional grass lawn: clover lawns.
If you’re an old-school lawn person who has spent their life fighting clover, you might think the world has gone mad. But there are some very good reasons why you should consider inviting clover into your lawn—or just letting clover be your lawn.
The pros of clover
Clover—all 300 species of it—is a flowering legume that most lawn lovers think of as the enemy because it’s aggressively invasive. But back in the early part of the 20th century, most lawns actually included white clover in their mix—it wasn’t until the advent of effective herbicides that the ideal lawn became a monoculture of turf grass. Clover, long maligned as a weed, is now making a comeback for a lot of really good reasons:
- It’s more environmentally friendly than grass. Clover is tough stuff. Because it’s a legume, it actually draws nitrogen and other elements into the soil, so you don’t need to fertilize or aerate as you do with a grass lawn-in fact, if you mix clover in with your grass lawn you’ll notice yellow patches disappearing as the clover nurses your grass back to health. It uses a lot less water, too.
- It attracts pollinators. Bees love clover, and will flock to your lawn once it flowers. It will also attract other creatures, like rabbits.
- It’s easier to maintain. Not only does a clover lawn require less water, it also requires a lot less mowing—you can get away with mowing your lawn just 2-4 times a year with clover (less if you like a wilder yard). It also pretty much stays green no matter what’s going on, unlike your sad, yellow, straw-like grass—even if your dog pees on the clover, it won’t discolor like grass does. Clover is so aggressive it usually out-competes weeds, so you won’t need to do much in terms of weeding.
- It’s cheap. First of all, if you’ve been trying to get rid of clover in your lawn, that means you’ve already got clover in your lawn—give up and let it grow, and you have a free clover lawn. Need to buy some clover seed instead? Break out the small bills, because you can get 4,000 square feet of clover coverage for about $4.
- They feel nice. A clover lawn is really nice to walk on in bare feet, y’all.
Cons of clover lawns
So clover is great! Surely there are downsides to consider as you contemplate all that free time on your weekends not spent maintaining an environmentally disastrous grass lawn?
The main downside of a clover lawn is durability. Say what you will about grass, you can walk on it, picnic on it, play touch football on it and it will spring back like nothing happened. Clover is less robust when it comes to foot traffic, and you will get bare spots if you have a lot of activity on your clover lawn.
Clover is also a relatively short-lived perennial, so you will find yourself needing to replant every 2-3 years. Luckily, this is pretty easy.
Clover is an excellent alternative to grass—or an excellent addition to a grass lawn. It’s better for the planet, easier to maintain, and harkens back to a less-conformist lawn culture that thrived before cookie-cutter subdivisions ruled our home aesthetic. Toss a few bucks at some clover seed and break free from your grassy weekend prison.
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