From my garden: Planting a meadow lawn saves water
Published - 05/06/17 - 03:40 PM | 2218 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Clover lawns need less water to stay lush and green. PHOTO BY LINDA MARRONE
Clover lawns need less water to stay lush and green. PHOTO BY LINDA MARRONE
After tending two small patches of grass on either side of my front walkway throughout the drought, I realized how much water, fertilizer, weed control and maintenance grass requires, so I decided to replace my grass lawn with a meadow lawn, which at this time is primarily micro-clover.  

A meadow lawn is nothing more that what the name implies, a lawn filled with plants you would find growing naturally in a meadow. Meadows are abundant with clover, grasses and weeds, and in this case, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you look at weeds from a different perspective, they can be quite beautiful and they will attract beneficial insects and bees to your garden. Here are some more benefits to having a clover "meadow" lawn.

No more fertilizers

Clover produces its own nitrogen, so you do not have to fertilize it to keep it healthy and green.It has a symbiotic relationship with soil-dwelling bacteria that enables the plant to take nitrogen out of the air to feed itself.  Many organic vegetable growers plant clover in with their crops so that it can provide nitrogen to their plants without using chemicals. 

Less mowing

Our plan is to only mow every couple of weeks or monthly and only edge the border and trim unwanted grass from time to time, as needed.  Many people with larger meadow lawns choose to mow every 3-4 months, allowing a more naturalistic meadow to evolve over time.   

Less watering

We planted our clover lawn in the winter when rain was in the forecast and this past winter's rain really helped to establish it. If it isn't raining, you will need to water the seeds every day for two weeks. Clover is considered drought tolerant and watering twice a week once it establishes will keep it lush and green during normal weather.

There are endless suggestions on how to plant clover lawns online and I choose to do it one of the easy ways since I only had a small area to plant. In January 2016, we planted micro-clover seeds over the existing grass lawn and did a second planting in January 2017, which has yielded a verdant green lawn of clover that produces tiny white flowers.

To prepare the areas for the clover seeds, first, my gardeners mowed down the lawn as low as they could, detached the tangled growth of Bermuda grass and aerated the soil. Clover prefers to be grown in poor soil, so amending the soil before planting is not necessary. The seeds were spread over the lawn area and then covered with weed seed-free top soil. Do not fertilize your clover seeds, because it will only encourage the grass to grow. 

Besides white, micro-clover flowers also come in pink. Another choice is “Dutch white” clover, which grows taller and produces more flowers than its micro-cousin. The taller varieties also come in pink and crimson. All varieties can be purchased online.

Who would have known that, after years of removing clover from my lawn, that I would actually purchase clover seeds and encourage them to grow?  At first, my gardeners thought I was crazy to purchase "weed seeds," but now they see the benefits and they think it was a great idea.

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