Troublesome Weed: Clover

Something went wrong. Please try again later...
White clover in turf

Controlling clover can be a difficult proposition. Its resilience, growth pattern and nitrogen-fixing abilities mean clover can over-run a lawn precisely when turf is at its most vulnerable. But with a little bit of planning – and the right tools – clover can be brought under control.


Clover doesn’t fit the typical profile of a weed, even though it sends many homeowners searching for a solution to eliminate it from their lawns. For one, it’s a perennial legume. For another, it can be problematic because it can tolerate close mowing, can grow in a wide range of soil types and spreads by both stolons and seed.

What makes clover so challenging?

“The hard thing about clover is it’s a perennial,” said Chester VandenBerg, turf and ornamental territory manager for Corteva Agriscience. “If you try to treat it as an annual, you’re not going to have the same success. Early control is key. Get those herbicide applications out before it gets to a mature phase.”

“Once clover gets to the flower stage, the ideal time to stop it is already gone,” Vandenberg said. “Once it’s noticeable in spring, clover will prove heartier to herbicides and take longer to be eliminated – up to two or even three weeks.”

Also, clover is resilient and takes over during times of stress on a lawn, such as in midsummer heat. Clover can supply itself with nitrogen when there isn’t  much  in the soil, which is one reason of the many reasons why homeowners will see clover pop up when their turf is not as healthy.

How do you control clover?

Clover germinates in the fall, and that’s the time to treat your lawn so that spring grass remains spotless. Homeowners can find success using the Defendor® specialty herbicide that contains the active ingredient florasulam during fall applications – the ideal time to apply is from Halloween to Thanksgiving. Applying Defendor specialty herbicide at the rate of 4 ounces per acre will not only provide control of clover, but also dandelion, along with other broadleaf weeds.

“It just makes it so much easier and saves you so much time and energy in that fall time frame compared with the spring,” VandenBerg said.

Defendor specialty herbicide tends to work well in colder weather, providing homeowners with effective control as long as it is applied while the ground is not frozen.

However, VandenBerg recommends staying attentive to lawns and turf because clover will appear throughout the year. It is not just a threat during the fall. In summer, if a lawn is stressed, clover will take over. Using Defendor specialty herbicide again will also eliminate clover, though it will remain visible for two to three weeks while the herbicide works.

Ultimately, controlling clover will require an attentive, carefully thought-out approach, so don’t get discouraged. “Once I see things and see patterns and trends, I’m making sure I’m looking for that next year,” VandenBerg said.

Discover how Defendor specialty herbicide can help you defend lawns against clover.

State restrictions on the sale and use of Defendor® apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. Always read and follow label directions.


Panorama™ Blog

When it comes to the challenges you face, you’re the expert. We’re here to help you tackle those challenges and bolster your business.

Sign Up for Updates

Effective weed control starts with identification. Learn to identify 90+ grassy and broadleaf weeds.

Download Free Weed ID Guide