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Clover is a very different plant from bermuda grass, although the clover can get invasive as well.


At The Farm, I just let the clover grow; I don't mow it.  It can get 18 - 24 inches tall during cooler weather.  It develops a nice duff underneath it.  I'm not sure how it would work for a lawn substitute.  For one, if you didn't mow it, the height would probably classify it as a weed for purposes of Phoenix zoning ordinances, and if a neighbor complained you'd have to battle the City over whether the green patch were legal or not.  I assume that, if you mowed it, it would develop a lower, tighter habit that might look something like a lawn, although probably less even-looking than a conventional lawn.  The clover suffers a bit toward the end of summer, particularly if it doesn't get enough water or is too exposed to the sun.  Also, as I remember from being a kid in SoCal where clover grew in the grass in parks, clover attracts bees.  If your kids are playing in or running on clover, they're going to get stung eventually.


Like everyone, I have constant battles with bermuda grass.  The clover keeps it more or less in check, but doesn't outcompete it.  Because I don't mow the clover, what happens is that the bermuda invades in a very tall, lanky form and kind of co-exists with the clover until I rip it out.  I suspect that you'd get a different effect if you mowed, and mowing might give the grass an advantage.


There are a few weeds that can come through in the clover.  The first I deal with is cheeseweed.  This one you just have to pick after irrigation and before it goes to seed--after a year or so of conscientious maintenance it will essentially be eradicated. The second is bermuda, especially around the perimeters.  In its lanky state, it's relatively easy to pull from unmowed clover, although it takes a sharp eye to get it all.  The third is nut sedge.  This one is the hardest to deal with and will outcompete clover in sunny locations.  I had real problems with this, and covered the worst nut sedge patches with cardboard & mulch to kill them.  Then a few years ago the nut sedge just stopped being a problem.  I suspect that, as the trees grew and the ground got shadier, this gave the clover the advantage.  Johnson Grass will also outcompete clover, but I believe Johnson Grass is relatively easy to eradicate, if you're willing to get out and dig in the hot August sun.  Gratefully, Johnson Grass isn't that common.


Short answer, no.  I don't think clover would make a good lawn substitute in a conventional lawn setting.


There's a strange weed that's growing in my bermuda lawn at home.  It's a dicot, and creeps very close to the ground and has leaves about 1/2 inch long, shaped a bit like chinese elm leaves.  It's not at all like clover or medic--it's tougher than that.  It has a very small yellow flowers, and does better in shadier portions of the lawn.  It's kind of nice, really, and holds its own against the bermuda.

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Comment by Rachel on October 26, 2011 at 8:54am
Just an FYI-- cheese weed (Malva parviflora) is edible. It may not be what you want to look at for your lawn, but next time you're yanking it out, add it to your salad! :)
Comment by Marcia on October 10, 2011 at 12:06pm
PS - One thing you want to be careful of is that not all clover is 'good' clover.  I learned, much to my dismay, that there is something called 'burr' clover.  If you get any of this in your lawn, you need to keep it mowed regularly, or it will sprout little yellow flowers that are the precursor to burrs...which are hippie traps...unfriendly to bare feet, animal feet and fur coats.
Comment by Marcia on October 10, 2011 at 12:03pm
Just saw this so thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.  I cut sod and pulled bermuda a couple years ago, then seeded clover. I was told that some people had had success with clover crowding out the bermuda.  Unfortunately, that isn't strictly true--at least in my case. Maybe because I didn't dig dow 2 feet to dig it out.  So- it seems that bermuda and clover in my yard have a symbiotic relationship; with the bermuda creeping out around the edges.  However, I've noticed that my yard looks greener, even thru the summer, because of the clover; and it's much nicer to walk on.  I do have flood irrigation, so that could also be a differentiator...but I Like my clover lawn much better than the ugly bermuda.
Comment by bryanwhitebeyondthekitchengarden on October 1, 2011 at 4:14pm



Comment by CPW on September 22, 2011 at 5:40pm
Do you have dogs?  I just moved and the new place has some crappy desert landscaping.  They went down an inch or two to remove bermuda.  they spread out some gravel.  My two spoiled dogs want grass back.  i'm thinking that clover might be better.  there are 3 or 4 desert trees in the back too.  Basically, I need to redo the whole backyard and put in a garden as well.  :)

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