What Is Micro Clover? Reasons to Grow It in Your Lawn

Smaller than white clover, micro clover adds greenery and nitrogen to grass

Close up of a bunch of green clover

Micro clover (sometimes spelled as microclover) is a small variety of white clover well worth consideration for spring lawn renovation. Bred for low height and small leaves, it can be used as a standalone ground cover or as 2% - 5% of a lawn mix. When used in a lawn mix, it supplies continuous nitrogen and helps suppress weeds. 

Standard-size white clover (Trifolium repens) has been used with lawn seed for a very long time, but it sometimes begs the patience of lawn keepers. Standard white clover can overcome grass species and crowd them out. It goes to flower quickly and attracts bees. 

What Is Micro Clover?

Micro clover is a dwarf variety of Dutch white clover (Trifolium repens) growing 4 to 6 inches tall with trifoliate leaves or three leaves resembling shamrocks. It is the smallest variety of clover, designed to grow shorter, less patchy, and with fewer flowers than the standard clover associated with grass mixes. It doesn't crowd out grass; you can mow it down to 3 inches. The most popular varieties of micro clover are 'Pirouette' and 'Pipolina.'

It compares to regular clover because of the shape of its leaves, but it is 1/3 to 1/2 the size of common clover with much smaller leaves. It will also grow more densely, growing back smaller when mowed. It will flower for one month in summer with white flowers, but you can cut away the flowers to keep your lawn looking green.

Trifolium repens 'Pipolina' micro clover

jacki-dee / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Closeup view of micro clover on a lawn

Px Fuel

White clover plants as ground cover with small white flowers on thin stems
Trifolium repens, white clover

The Spruce / K. Dave

Benefits of Micro Clover

  • Grows well with grass: Mixes well with tall and fine fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass and provides a uniform appearance; also, adding variety to grass gives lawn more resistance to disease and pests
  • Produces nitrogen: It's an organic source of nitrogen in grass clippings, and as it decays
  • May reduce the need for one fertilizer application: Turf lawns with micro clover in their mix need one less application of fertilizer than grass-only lawns
  • Flowers are a food source for bees: Attracts and aids pollinators
  • Clover crowds out weeds: Clover is a rapid spreader that naturally crowds out broadleaf weeds; it outcompetes weeds
  • Clover attracts beneficial insects that prey on pests: Clover attracts ladybugs, minute pirate bugs, lacewings, and parasitoid wasps (specialized non-stinging predators), which feed on aphids, whiteflies, scales, cabbage worms, and other garden pests, reducing the need for using pesticide
  • Certain lawn pests do not like clover: For lawns that have a grub problem, clover is a good foil; lawn-damaging insects, especially white grubs, tend to avoid laying their eggs in clover-filled lawns since clover is not a food source
  • Drought tolerant: Deep roots of clover helps this lawn stay green in periods of drought; it requires less watering than other lawns
  • Cold hardy: Grows in snow cover, may stay green in winter (depending on the temperatures), and is cold hardy down to USDA hardiness zone 3
  • Can grow in compacted soils: Its deep roots penetrate, helping to lighten dense soils
  • Reduced need to aerate or dethatch the lawn: Deep roots also it doesn't produce thatch or an accumulation of dead grass roots and leaves
  • Reduces erosion: Its deep roots help mitigate erosion on steep hillsides
  • Resistant to dog urine: Clover is very hardy against dog urine and rowdy dog play in the yard, repairing itself if dogs dig
  • Resistant to de-icing salts: It can grow along the tidal banks of salty streams
  • Attracts rabbits away from vegetable gardens: Clover attracts rabbits that would otherwise plunder a vegetable garden

Disadvantages of Micro Clover

The disadvantages of micro clover are it's not as heat tolerant or shade tolerant as regular clover, it's more expensive, and it may not hold up well to heavy foot traffic. It also doesn't grow well in sandy soils and dies if exposed to broadleaf herbicides.

  • Not heat or shade resistant: In the high summer heat, it may die back, causing bare spots in your lawn. At a minimum, micro clover needs at least four hours of sun per day, so it doesn't fare well in the shade of a tree or building. Exposure to constant dry heat might require reseeding once peak heat passes.
  • Expensive: Micro clover is a pricier and specialty seed, so it may not be readily available at all gardening centers.
  • Problems as a monoculture lawn cover: Another disadvantage is if you grow it as a monoculture, meaning the entire lawn is micro clover, it can become a muddy mess in winter. Also, it doesn't hold up to excessive foot traffic by itself; it must be mixed with turfgrass to bounce back from being used as a play yard.
  • Southern blight susceptibility: Perhaps the most significant disadvantage to having a monoculture lawn is if a disease strikes, it's game over for the yard. Micro clover tends to be highly disease resistant but is susceptible to southern blight disease. Southern blight disease is mainly problematic in places with high humidity and warm night temperatures. 

Micro Clover Tolerates Regular Mowing

Diminutive micro clover, by contrast, is shorter than most turfgrass species. It tolerates regular mowing; when a lawn is consistently mowed to 3 inches, micro clover produces few or no flowers.

Low-growing but broad-leafed micro clover shades out some pernicious lawn weeds. It is relatively indifferent to dog waste, unlike grass. It stays green in winter and tolerates drought better than grass. Being deep-rooted, it can help control erosion.

Micro Clover and Organic Lawns

Micro clover is popular among the organic lawn care crowd because it’s a self-perpetuating source of nitrogen to lawn grasses—a sort of free lunch after the initial planting. According to the University of Maryland Extension, it may reduce one nitrogen application per year. Grass clippings and micro clover may supply all the needed nitrogen. Get annual soil tests to determine how well nitrogen needs are being met. 

Micro clovers are conventionally bred and not genetically engineered (non-GMO). (Clover is a broad-leaf plant, not grass.) micro clover overcomes most drawbacks associated with the standard-size white clover, except that it is susceptible to broad-leaf weed killers.

Micro clover seed can be purchased coated or uncoated. The clay coating includes an inoculant to help the plants get a head start, especially when clover has never been planted before.

Coated seed should be less than six months old for the coating to be effective. (Don’t store it for a year and expect to get the benefits). According to Troy Hake, president of Outside Pride of Independence, Oregon, clay coating is compatible with organic lawn care programs. Outside Pride introduced its variety, Miniclover®, in 2013. An uncoated seed is probably fine where clover (of any size) has been planted.

Where to Buy Micro Clover

Micro clover typically costs about $30 to $40 a pound. You'll likely need about one to two pounds of seed for every 1,000 square feet of lawn you want to cover. So, a 10,000-square-foot lawn can cost from $300 to $800 for seed.

Microclover® (Trifolium repens var. pirouette) was initially developed in Denmark by DLF Trifolium and introduced in the U.S. around 2005. It is sold under several names, including Microclover®, Miniclover®, Microgreen Microclover, and Micro Clover.

In addition to Outside Pride, several other companies sell the seed, including Pro Time Lawn Seed in Portland, Oregon, Hancock Seed in Dade City, Florida, and Good Nature Organic Lawn Care in Cleveland, Ohio.

The advice to use clover in lawn seed has been around for a long time. Earthturf, based in Portland, Oregon, offers several types of lawn seed mix with micro clover and features a 1912 New York Times clover endorsement on its website.

  • Is micro clover good for lawns?

    Micro clover is a wonderful addition to lawns, offering many benefits, including nitrogen-fixing, drought resistance, cold hardiness, dog urine and road salt tolerance, and weed outperformance.

  • How do I plant a micro clover in my existing lawn?

    Seeding with micro clover is best done after a lawn has been mowed close to the ground and the ground has been aerated. Aeration allows the seeds to reach the soil surface and ensures the soil retains water and nutrients.

  • Does micro clover come back every year?

    In cold winter zones, micro clover goes dormant over winter and returns in spring. 

  • Will micro clover choke out grass?

    Micro clover is a good companion to grass, choking out weeds, not grass.

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. Lawns and microclover. University of Maryland Extension.