I’ve never seen so much clover. I was riding my bike around Needham the other day and just about every lawn had at least a sprinkling of clover. At first, I was really impressed with the number of organic lawns in Needham, but then I considered that maybe the chemical herbicides weren’t able to control this year’s clover frenzy.

needham lawns1I’ve heard that the outbreak of clover is due to the record rains in March. The heavy deluge depleted the soil of nitrogen, which can leach from the organic matter under the right conditions. We all know that clover, as a legume, can fix nitrogen from the air and replenish the soil. That is why it was included in all the best grass seed mixes before the advent of broadleaf weed killers and the advertising campaign that unjustly vilified clover as a weed. Clover has been like ‘The Fugitive’ chasing the one-armed man to clear its name.

As I pedaled around town, I kind of liked it. I certainly wouldn’t use a chemical herbicide to control it. Clover looks a lot better when it is interspersed in a seed mix than in the clumps that spring up to correct soil conditions. When customers call me to complain about clover, it’s usually because the lawn is not doing well and the clover looks huge. We have one large lawn that always looks good and I swear it’s because of the clover sprinkled throughout. You’d never know it’s there unless you looked closely.

Clover helps relieve compaction, as well. It can be an annual or a short lived perennial, so it seems to come and go. Bees are always a concern underfoot, but we could probably use more pollinating insects as well. I’m glad the clover’s here and I wish it well. It sounds like a radical idea, but maybe it’s time for clover to take back its traditional place in the American lawn.

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