White Clover in Lawns

A prominent plant in many Iowa lawns in late spring/early summer is white clover.  White clover (Trifolium repens) is a creeping perennial.  Plant stems root at the nodes where they touch the soil.  The leaves are composed of 3 leaflets.  Plants bloom profusely in late spring/early summer.  Flower heads consist of 20 to 40 individual white to pinkish-white, fragrant flowers.  White clover is common in many lawns because it is a prolific seed producer and adapts well to mowing and other lawn care practices.  Its presence is often a sign of low nitrogen fertility. 

White clover in lawns can be controlled through proper fertilization and the application of broadleaf herbicides.  Spring (mid-April to early May), mid-September, and late October/early November are excellent times to fertilize Kentucky bluegrass lawns in Iowa.  Products that contain MCPP, dicamba, or triclopyr provide excellent control of white clover.  An application of 2,4-D (alone) is not effective in controlling white clover.  Applications of broadleaf herbicides in late spring/early summer provide some control of white clover.  However, fall applications (late September to early November) are most effective.


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