A Bay Weekly reader wanted to know how to encourage clover to grow in her lawn because she likes the looks of it. Clover has other benefits. It doesn’t need to be mowed as often, it is very drought resistant and it does not have to be fertilized with nitrogen.
By maintaining a high soil pH and low levels of nitrogen, you can encourage white Dutch clover to grow at the expense of grass. It will take approximately three years to crowd out most of the grasses. You will find that fescue grasses are more tolerant of the clover-favoring conditions than are blue grasses.
–First, have the soil tested to make certain the pH is near to above 6.5 with medium to high levels of phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. So as not to encourage grass growth, use only 0-20-20 fertilizer to adjust the phosphorus and potassium levels and dolomitic limestone to add magnesium if needed.
Set the cutting height of your lawnmower to about three inches, and mow the lawn at least twice weekly. Frequent mowing will minimize shading of the clover by grasses.
One of the problems you need to consider in establishing a clover lawn is bees. White Dutch clover flowers profusely and attracts bees. Frequent mowing at the peak of flowering will help to reduce bee populations. Mow in the evening when bee activity is at a minimum.