How to Get Rid of Clover in Your Lawn

A clover lawn speckled with white and purple clover blossoms

Johner Images / Getty

Clover on your lawn could have many beneficial qualities, but sometimes it is an unwanted addition. For example, some simply prefer a uniform, manicured look on a lawn, made possible by removing all plants or weeds that are not grass.

Fortunately, there are effective ways to get rid of clover, whether you choose to stick to organic methods or eradicate it using chemical herbicides. The best control method of all may be prevention. By understanding why clover appeared on your lawn in the first place, you can implement some simple measures to get rid of it.

White clover in bloom with bee.

Perboge/Getty Images

Why Clover May Be Beneficial for Your Lawn

Consider keeping clover on your lawn before you decide to get rid of it. Clover has many attributes, including low-maintenance upkeep, as clover does not need to be fertilized because it is a "nitrogen-fixer," nor does it need to be mowed as often as grass does. Clover also stays green all summer, even when the grass has turned brown.

Clover is a vigorous plant that crowds out weeds, thereby reducing the need for weed control. It holds up better against dog urine than grass does, and while beneficial insects (such as honeybees) are drawn to it, insect pests tend to leave it alone. Clovera also tolerates heavy foot traffic; under the same conditions, many types of grass would become compacted.

Any decision you make about getting rid of clover in your lawn should come only after weighing all of these benefits. Some people conclude that clover has so many benefits that it merits being used in lieu of grass altogether; clover lawns are catching on.

Reasons to Remove Clover

There are few practical reasons for getting rid of clover. Two instances where there actually could be a practical reason to do so are:

  • You plan on selling your property shortly, and you know that most buyers in your area would prefer a lawn free of clover.
  • You or a family member are allergic to bees, and, therefore, enjoying activities on a lawn filled with bees buzzing around clover flowers could be problematic. However, this concern could be addressed simply by mowing the clover before it comes into bloom.

Why Clover Appeared in Your Lawn

There is no mystery behind the reason for clover's having appeared in your lawn: clover is a tough, vigorous plant that will get the better of grass in a fair, head-to-head matchup. If you neutralize clover's natural advantages over grass whenever possible, you can eradicate it.

Since clover, as a nitrogen-fixer, can get by without fertilization while grass can't, make sure to fertilize your lawn on a regular schedule. Likewise, grass requires help from you to fight drought and pests, whereas clover does not; provide that help faithfully.

Clover's tolerance for being walked on without becoming compacted gives it an advantage over grass in areas with heavy foot traffic, an advantage it exploits to fill in spots where the grass has died out. To prevent this, build a walkway in high-traffic areas.

Red clover in bloom .
David Beaulieu

How to Get Rid of Clover Naturally

Using Herbicides

If you do not mind using chemical herbicides, look for post-emergent herbicides called "broadleaf herbicides." Such products are designed to kill broadleaf weeds while not harming your type of grass. After you have found a selection of broadleaf herbicides, look specifically for one that has 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, or triclopyr as an ingredient (these are among the most effective herbicides against clover). Happily, for those who wish to stay organic, there are also natural options.

Using Corn Gluten

Apply corn gluten to your lawn in spring every year if you prefer the preventive approach. Corn gluten is a natural pre-emergent herbicide, and you can purchase corn gluten at stores that carry farming supplies.

  1. Timing is critical for corn gluten to be effective, as seeds that have already germinated and formed roots will not be affected. To make sure that you get the timing right, start using a thermometer to measure the temperature of the soil in your lawn in late winter or early spring (as soon as the ground begins to thaw).
  2. Water the corn gluten after applying it.

Using Vinegar

To get rid of existing clover, one option is to spray it with vinegar (acetic acid). While vinegar is natural, do not underestimate how much harm it can do to any grass blades that you get it on. Vinegar is a non-selective herbicide: It is not designed to kill just one particular type of plant. For this reason, make sure you do not spray it on a windy day, nor should you spray on a day when rain is in the forecast: The rain will wash the product off the leaves, undoing the work that you have done.

  1. Mere household vinegar may not be strong enough to kill clover. Instead, look for solutions that are at least 15% acetic acid; these can often be found in stores that cater to an agricultural clientele.
  2. You may have to spray more than once, and be careful not to get any solution on yourself.

Pulling or Digging Clover Out

Another organic method for getting rid of existing clover is to pull/dig it out. Make sure you get it by the roots, otherwise, it will come back. It is easier to pull up roots in moist soil, so spray the clover with water before attempting this method.

White clover in bloom.
miwa_in_oz/Getty Images

How to Prevent Clover in Your Lawn

Clover is resilient, which is why it is such a successful competitor against your lawn grass. But a sound lawn maintenance regimen can deprive clover of a chance ever to gain a toe-hold. The idea is to ensure that your grass grows so vigorously that there will be no room for clover. Here are two ways to achieve this:

Clover tolerates drought better than most types of grass. If you fail to keep your lawn irrigated sufficiently, die-out will occur during heat waves in the summer. Clover can exploit the resulting bare patches. Keep your lawn properly irrigated, especially during spells of hot, dry weather. If you travel frequently during the summer, you may need to install an automatic watering system.

Even something as simple as mowing high can help. Taller grass casts shade on the ground, which discourages the germination of any clover seed that a bird flying over your lawn may have dropped.

Leaf of red clover showing its tripartite structure.
David Beaulieu
  • Should you get rid of clover?

    There is usually no right or wrong answer—the answer largely comes down to personal preferences. To help you decide, thoroughly explore issues such as how much time you are willing to put into lawn maintenance and how highly you value the classic "picture-perfect" lawn. If you like the look of manicured grass, opt to remove clover from the lawn.

  • Why do I have so much clover in my lawn?

    Clover takes over a lawn when the grass has not been given enough TLC. In particular, grass that has not been sufficiently fertilized and watered tends to lose out to clover and other weeds over time.

  • When should I spray my lawn for clover?

    While you can use a broadleaf herbicide on clover at any time during the growing season, fall is the best time to spray.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lawn and Turfgrass Weeds: White Clover. PennState Extension.