This is an exciting moment in the short history of my lawn diversification project. When I reseeded the lawn back in March, the turfgrass sprouts were visible in a week, just like always, but the the fancy (expensive) clover seed I spread at the same time was a MIA. So I figured it was a total bust.
NOPE. Clover patches are popping up all over the lawn now, front and back. Turns out clover comes up as ultra-tiny sprouts that stealthily spread along under the taller turf grass and take their sweet time establishing themselves.
Why am I deliberately infesting my lawn with a plant people routinely nuke into obliion with herbicides? Short answer: because turfgrass is a boring, expensive, high-maintenance monoculture.
Clover builds a better topsoil layer than turfgrass by rooting deeper & fixing nitrogen, requires much less mowing because it’s naturally shorter than turfgrass, and it blooms below mowing height to provide pollinators with nectar for three full seasons.
Clover also stays green throughout the summer, unlike turfgrass that goes dormant in hot weather unless heavily watered. Which I don’t do.
All that leads to the question, why would ANYone plant a species that requires constant intensive maintenance when you can plant something that doesn’t need nearly as much care but fills the same niche? (namely, “low, soft, walkable surface on which to do other outdoor activities without damaging plants or being baked to death from reflected heat like on concrete.”
People who sell herbicides, insecticides, lawn care tools, and even whole services long ago convinced the American Public that a turfgrass lawn was The Best Thing Ever. <major side-eye at the Lawn Maintenance Industry, which isn’t really a thing, exactly, but it exists as a concept.>
But it isn’t. It’s an ecologically questionable timesinking money pit.
So in due time my lawn will have not only clover, but also violets & plantains & wood sorrel & other native ‘weeds’ galore. Dandelions? No, but only because they don’t play well with the others. There’s even an oficial phrase for this kind of lawn: “Pizza lawn”
Who doesn’t love pizza? (Rhetorical question.)
I understand many people feel the “attracts pollinators” aspect is a bug (HA!) not a feature, but I am not among them. Bees are not mysterious monsters. They’re pretty tolerant of people as long as you avoid stepping directly on them. So if you avoid stomping around your lawn in the early morning, you’re fine. And all your garden veggies will produce better, too! (if you have a veggie garden.)
Anyway. That’s my clover post. Until later!
Originally published on Patreon 6/14/2021 Become a patron to get posts as soon as I write them: Patreon.com/kmherkes