On the benefits of clover

Trent Ernst


I haven’t managed to crawl up onto my roof again this week, as I was off in Saskatchewan visiting my dad.

I did, however, return home to a field of clover in my front yard.

Over the last few years, clover has been slowly taking over the front yard, and to be frank, I haven’t felt the need to try and get rid of it.

Most people have bought into the notion that a lawn is grass and anything that isn’t grass is a weed.

Sure, when it starts to flower, it doesn’t look very lawn-like, but clover is a far better ground cover than grass.

The big reason I like clover is that it is a legume. That means that it takes nitrogen from the air and through a chemical reaction, deposits it in the ground. Nitrogen is one of the key ingredients in most fertilizer, which means it provides a constant source of fertilizer for itself and surrounding grasses – making the whole lawn more lush, green, and healthy.

Because it is self-fertilizing, clover thrives in poor soil, which is about the perfect definition of the soil here in Tumbler.

But, as they say on TV, wait, that’s not all. Ever notice how if you don’t water your lawn enough, the grass tends to go brown, while the clover tends to stay green? That’s because clover grows deep roots and needs less water to stay green than grasses. Clover spread throughout a lawn can make it appear green year round.

Something that I hadn’t realized until looking up other benefits of clover is that it resists pet pee.

If you have a dog, there’s a good chance your lawn has brown spots on it. Unlike grass, clover is highly resistant to pee and helps maintain a uniformly green lawn. Clover is a hearty plant and tends to compete against other plants for growing space. While this means that grass has a heck of a time against clover (and why those who prefer grass have to give grass a chemical advantage), it also means that weeds generally are on the loosing end of the battle as well.

And unlike grass, which will grow to waist high given half a chance, clover rarely grows higher than Tumbler Ridge’s 15 cm limit for lawns, meaning you don’t have to mow it so frequently.

Clover’s big downfall is that it isn’t as hearty when it comes to foot traffic. While it can take on any challenger at the turf level, getting trod upon leaves clover the worse for wear.

There is a growing anti-grass movement in more urban centres, and clover is frequently being championed as a grass alternative. Visit www.lesslawn.com or cloverlawn.org for more information on clover as ground cover.