How to Kill Clover

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How to Kill Clover

Clover is one of the most commonly found weeds in North America, and many people are anxious to get rid of it. Clover will usually appear as a deeper green color than the rest of your yard, and it’s also known to give your lawn an uneven look as it grows in patches that are different heights. Though it does come with some significant benefits, many lawn enthusiasts often complain about clover taking over their yard and overwhelming their grass, and many have questions about how to safely eliminate the weed. Fortunately for these folks, there are ways that will effectively remove clover from the yard and leave your lawn full of lush, green grass.

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The most effective means of eliminating clover is to use chemical or synthetic herbicides. Make sure you find a selective broad-leaf herbicide that will only target the clover and not damage your grass. Good choices contain the ingredients dicamba or MCPP, and more than one application may be necessary. Once the clover is gone, you’ll probably find that you need to plant some grass seed in its place to fill the empty spots. It’s also worth noting that many people have also praised the results of applying vinegar to get rid of the clover. While vinegar can be effective at eliminating the weed, it can also be harmful to the surrounding grass. Chemical herbicides really provide the best method for eliminating clover from your lawn.

Regular mowing at the proper height (2 to 3 inches) and regular fertilizing are also effective in eliminating clover. Taking care of your yard in this manner encourages good grass growth, and the grass can eventually take over the clover and choke it out. In areas where clover patches remain, pulling the weeds by hand will work to help the grass establish itself. Keeping your lawn healthy with mowing and fertilizer will help your grass establish strong roots and maintain solid growth, keeping the clover at bay.

In spite of its classification as a weed, clover does have several benefits that many people don’t realize. Before deciding to completely eliminate clover from your yard, consider the positive things that it has to offer: clover provides healthy nitrogen to surrounding grass; clover flowers attract pollinators to your yard; and it’s disease-resistant and drought-tolerant. It is possible for clover and grass to peacefully co-exist, and many people enjoy the lush green color of the clover leaves. In fact, many grass seed mixes actually contain clover seeds in the mix.

If, however, you do decide that you want to eliminate clover from your yard, the best approach is to take a combination of the two suggestions above. Keeping a healthy yard with regular mowing and fertilizing, along with using herbicides for stubborn patches, will give you the clover-free yard you’re after.

Author Bio

Matt Morrison is a lawn expert, homeowner, and website hobbyist from Texas. He enjoys working on his own lawn and helping others make their lawn the best it can be. You can read more of his articles here.


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57 comments

  1. So Ortho Weed-B Gon is really a good clover killer huh. I used Scotts Turf Builder w/Halts Crabgrass Preventer. It reallt perked up my lawn but for some reason I am getting Clover in my yard.
    I put the Scotts Turf Builder w/Halts on my lawn the last week in Febuary. When is a good time to put the Ortho Weed-B Gon?

    Gary

  2. Gary,

    As far as I know, you can use it anytime you have weeds. The reason your lawn has clover is because there is a nitrogen imbalance. Clover is actually good for your lawn as it provides nitrogen. It’s nature’s way of replenishing the nutrients in the soil. Good luck.

  3. I just sprayed my yard with Weed-B-Gon that attached to my water hose and wanted to know if it is ok to use the Scott’s Turf Builder with crap grass killer at the same time? I want to get the good grass growing to have healthy roots, but did not know if I can use it at the same time as the spray.

    Clint

  4. will weed be gone hurt hybrid bermuda grass?

    Sam

    • It shouldn’t, but you might want to test a hidden area first before you spray over your whole yard.

  5. How do I get rid of African Violets? They are spread in small patches throughout the lawn.

    THanks

    • Mary,

      Violets spread through rhizomes, seeds, and self-pollinating c-flowers. If you are removing them by hand, you have to get the whole plant intact or it will come back. There are some products that work on violets.

      You can try an herbicide called Triclopyr which comes in popular products such as Ortho Weed-B-Gon. If you have St. Augustine, Centipede, or Zoysia, then try products with Atrazine in them. Be sure to spot treat the violets in spring and fall when they are actively growing. The herbicide needs to stay in contact for at least 24 hours so don’t apply if rain is in the forecast. It may take some time and effort to totally get rid of them. They are extremely resilient plants. Good luck!

  6. RJ Kurtz

    How do I kill clover and other weeds in my asparagus patch?

    • RJ,

      Since you are in a sensitive area, it may be best to pull out the clover yourself. Make sure to get as much root as possible and use a sensitive touch to avoid disturbing your asparagus. If the clover has been growing for a while, it likely has clumps of small bulbs under the soil surface. Dig these out as best as possible. You can always try a chemical or organic solution such as orange oil, but it risks killing your asparagus. Good luck!

  7. I was about to put weed killer down to wipe out the clover on my front lawn. But I do like the fact that it is adding nitrogen to the soil and that the flowers attract pollinators that my garden will benefit from. So I decided to let it “bee” – Pun intended. While I still envy my neighbors sod covered and landscaper manicured lawns, I can live with my lawn’s positive inperfection. Thanks for the information.

    • Thanks Stevo. That’s great. The sun eventually kills off the clover during summer anyways πŸ˜‰

  8. I hate the clover and I want it removed. The article mentions a lack of nitrogen for the increased presence of clover. If I get rid of it what is the best way to add nitrogen? (please don’t say to leave the clover)

    Thanks,

    • A slow-release fertilizer would work best for increasing nitrogen.

    • Killing clover to improve a lawn is like ….using a hand gun to give yourself a haircut!

    • Killing clover, a beneficial plant, is like using a handgun to give yourself a haircut. Unnecessary, wrong direction. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria on the roots improves the soil while you watch. One of the best plants ever.

  9. I have zoysia grass in my lawn. For the first time in ten years, clover has become a noticeable problem this year. The zoysia itself normally crowds out about all weeds. We had record rainfalls the entire spring – could this be the reason for the clover spreading so much this year? Zoysia needs sunshine in order to spread and we had very little of that in April and May. Also, will the zoysia crowd out the clover without help from Ortho or anything else in a couple of months?

    • Greg,

      It could be that the Zoysia was weaker and that allowed the clover to move in or your lawn had less nitrogen than usual for some reason. I don’t think you need to use the Ortho unless you are just anxious to get rid of it right now. The Zoysia and the sun will take care of the clover over the summer regardless. However, it will be back in the fall and next spring if you do nothing about it.

  10. I have clover on one side of my yard and moss on the other, what do you suggest for moss control or kill? And wwhen its dead can i reseed and expect results?

    • Brian,

      The fastest way to remove moss is with a heavy rake, but you can use products containing ferrous sulfate, ferrous ammonium sulfate, or moss killing soaps like Safers. Remove until you can see bare soil underneath. Then you can reseed (or sod if it’s not too much) to fill in the area. To keep it from coming back you need to remove the conditions that moss likes. These would be bare spots, shade, soil compaction, excessive thatch, low PH soil, and moisture. You need thick, healthy grass to remedy most of those problems long term. Take them one step at a time. Good luck!

  11. Impressive site! I had questions but reading your webpage about clover and then the question and answer section took care of the rest. Hands down the most informative of all the webpages I checked out about this clover issue I have. Well done.

    Mark

    • Thanks for the complements Mark! Good luck with your clover issue. Cheers.

  12. I have about 7 acres of horse pasture that has become solid fields of clover, which is very unfit for horses to graze on. What is your best suggestion to fix this problem besides the weed killer, as that is going to be very expensive? Any suggestions are appreciated, thanks.

  13. Great article. What do you suggest for us Canadians that can’t use herbicides? They have been banned. I have some large patches of clover and regularly fertilize. I have new patches popping up. I use a metal rake to pull it up but it jus grows back within a couple weeks. Our soil has a lot of clay. I have tried weed b gone that is high in iron. The clover leaves turn brown but come back weeks later. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Wes,

      Next time the clover comes back dig under it to see if there are tiny bulbs under the base. If there are, you should benefit from digging all these bulbs out. That should keep them from coming back once you kill them.

  14. Hi Matthew!!

    I am searching the web because, yes, I have clover, among other weeds. My problem is that my clover is a deep purplish or black in color. I purchased Round-Up Spray for weeds and clover. The Round-Up worked on the weeds and crabgrass (and really well on the crabgrass), but the clover remains. I sprayed it twice, with no effect. I just sprayed it for a third time hoping for the best.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!!!

    • John,

      You probably have dark dancer clover. It’s odd that Round-Up would have no effect on it. Assuming you used a non-selective Round-Up, there may only be one way to truly get rid of it. It’s not the easiest, but it is the best method of getting rid of weeds – pulling them out by hand. Take care to get the entire root. I recommend doing it in the cool of the morning and when the soil is damp. If that seems like too much work, then you can try Lawn sand which contains Ferrous Sulphate and Ammonium Sulphate, but I can’t promise that will work on the clover you mentioned.

  15. Tracy Curran

    Hi Matt i have about half an acre of a rear garden which has just become overrun with clover, i like it but my husband is not to keen and wants a proper lawn. We cannot use Fertiliser as we have free range chickens and other pets who we let raom freely, it is too large to manually remove do you have any suggestions?

    • Tracy,

      Did you try vinegar yet? You should also try using organic alternatives if animal safety is a concern. Let your husband know that roaming pets and animals will make it tough to keep a proper lawn πŸ˜‰

  16. You mention vinegar, do you pour it on/over the clover patch, or spray it on the patch, or spray the whole yard. Thanks…

  17. Helpful site! We are in South Florida and having a terrible time with dollar week, clover and dandelions. Any suggestions? Is this even a good time of year to work on this? We hired Truly Nolan lawn care–but it hasn’t done a thing for the past nine months. Help! Thanks!

    • Lynne,

      If you’ve had Truly Nolen work on your lawn the past nine months, then they have probably exhausted the chemical solutions to your problem. I imagine that you need to work on the basic health of your lawn – the soil. Also, make sure that you’re cutting the grass high, fertilizing regularly, and watering deeply with at least a few days in between.

      I also recommend reading a case study on soil preparation.

  18. this site sound good and i need all the help i can get i bought a foreclosure this past winter in st louis missouri i am finding out with the warmer temps that my yard is wasted theres clover patches and dandilions everywhere im young and new to lawn care and openminded to any suggestions… im told by the neighbors that soil is less than desirable but the homes with sprinkler systems have beautiful yards so it is possible… any thoughts?

    • Soil is the foundation of your lawn. I highly recommend that you improve the soil as best as you can. A sprinkler system won’t guarantee a beautiful lawn, but watering properly will. The tendency with a sprinkler system is to water too often. Don’t water everyday (or close to it) even if you’re tempted. Read some more articles on the site and learn all you can. Good luck Drew!

  19. Hey, I just got tasked with doing my mom’s yard and they have clover patches all over, dead spots and some kind of purple flower(or weed) and the grass is thin. What and how should I make this a real green yard without tilling and spending ALOT of money? I have no clue on law care so break it down for me. Thanks.
    Joe

    • Joe,

      Clover generally grows in areas that are nitrogen-deficient. That probably means that your mom’s yard needs to be fertilized. I prefer organic fertilizer, but synthetic fertilizers work too. I recommend reading the Lazy Man’s Guide to Lawn Care. Good luck!

      • Thanks! Now what are the purple flowers that are growing along with the clovers? Will adding fertilizer get rid of that also? So my best bet is just to add fertilizer and leave the clovers till the grass starts to grow in thick?

        • Joe,

          They are probably violets. Near the top of this page a product called Ortho Weed-B-Gon has a chemical called triclopyr in it that’s an effective violet control.

  20. i have clover and various other annoying weeds in my back yard. I know there are selective herbicides i can use to attack them without hurting my grass. My question is, how with that stuff(weed b gone, etc.) affect my garden which is in the center of my yard. If I dont spray my garden but just the surrounding area, will it seep into the garden from rain runoff and what not? I guess i’m wondering about the residual effects.

    • Jay,

      That is always the risk you take when applying any chemicals. I think you should be okay as long as you don’t apply too much near the area.

  21. Is 2-4-d alright to use to get rid of clover in your lawn or is there another product you prefer?
    Mike

    • 2,4-D is an effective herbicide, but I prefer using and handling less potent chemicals. There is some degree of concern in regards to toxicity and health. The product listed at the top of the page is good, but I actually like the natural approach of letting the sun burn them up.

  22. How can I kill spurge?

  23. My new construction home came with a seeded back yard last year that has yielded 80% clover. Initially I thought I wanted to kill it, but after reading more about in on your site, I’m wondering, can it be thinned? Or might that happen naturally as I try to eliminate it? The 20% of “grass” I do have is not well established and the clover is really the only green thing about my yard right now. I fear I may have to tear up everything and reseed the entire 6,000 sqft yard. Any suggestions?

    • If you can stand it, I think it would be a great idea to keep the clover until your grass fills in. If budget is no object and you’re anxious to get your grass going, then reseeding or sodding is your best bet.

  24. Pat Vallandingham

    Thanks for the helpful tips.

  25. Jeff Walters

    I have 3 or 4 patches of clover in my front lawn that i would like to see gone. I had a soil test done and was told to put down lime, which i did. And i also put down Milorganite which is a slow realease nitrogen fertilizer. The grass is starting to come in thicker but the clover is still there. I just put down the milorganite in may. Will the grass eventually take over the clover? If so do you have an idea of how long it may take? Thank you for any help!!

    • Jeff,

      Yes, the grass will take it over if the sun doesn’t get to it first. My yard is clover free by July usually. It depends on your climate when it comes to timing.

  26. I live in Clermont Fl(outside of Orlando), I have my sprinklers set for twice a week (We use reuse water for our lawns), grass looks great altho I have a ton of clover in my back yard. What could I use that wont hurt the grass? Help!

  27. Thanx For the info!

    from NY! Thatz Y!

  28. I have zoysia grass that is about 10 years old. Recently we have patches of clover and I understand the benefits but I want to take care of it and fix the imbalance in my yard rather than leaving the clover. I am not sure why the zoysia is all of the sudden not choking it out. I used ortho weed b gon and got GREAT results as far as killing off the clover. My question is what is the next step? I know clover is a hardy “germinator” so there’s always the chance new patches will appear BUT will what I killed off come back? Or can I fertilize and help prevent that? I guess what I’m asking is is the ortho weed b gon a permanent fix for that specific patch? If so, what now? Can I putbout more zoysia seed in those areas? I’m open to suggestions. Thanks for your help?

  29. Hi,
    It has been a while since people have asked questions so I hope you will respond. TY for all the wonderful information. I have clover patches and I am not figuring out that I havent been taking care of the lawn. So I know I need to fertilize, get rid of the clover and reseed. My problem is I am trying to not use herbicides, specially in the backyard where I have a vegetable garden right in the ground. So, can I leave the clover as is and just fertilize? Will the clover go away on it’s own eventually? or do I still have to kill it? If I kill it using vinegar, should I fertilize after that and then reseed?
    thank you!!

  30. Thank you Mathew. This was a great article and I’ve decided to leave the clover in my lawn. Good for the lawn and I’ll be using less chemicals. Thanks again.

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