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Lawn Repair - Help With Removing Clover and Lawn Renovation

by Christopher
(Nazareth, PA)

Red Clover

Red Clover

Your Question: I just moved into a new home and I believe they seeded with very cheap seed. My yard is now COVERED in what I believe is red clover. It is really tall and has purplish/pinkish flowers. It is absolutely everywhere. From what I have read, my yard is lacking nitrogen. So it obviously needs fertilizer. I wonder if you can help me to remove it. It is now the end of July. Should I spray a weed killer on the clover to kill it all, then begin fertilizing when it is all dead? I want to clean it out before the winter and hope to fix the yard in the fall when it is a good time to seed. What would the process be to turn my yard into a nice grass filled lawn.


Note: I'm assuming you are growing a Kentucky bluegrass lawn.

You are correct - lawns with a pale-green to yellow color and green clover patches is a good indication of low nitrogen fertility. Clover has the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and will therefore thrive in lawns that are lacking.

Go ahead and apply a slow release fertilizer now at a rate of 1/2 lb nitrogen per 1000 ft2 to green up you lawn and help it compete with the clover. Normally, I do not recommend fertilizing cool-season grasses in the middle of the summer. After fertilizing, make sure it is getting 1" of water per week.

To eliminate the clover, use a weed killer that contains 2,4-D and triclopyr or 2,4-D with mecoprop and dicamba. I recommend using Gordon's
Speedzone. The clover can be sprayed now, however you will get a better kill in early fall - hot and dry weather will reduce the effectiveness of herbicides. If you spray now, choose a day with low temperatures. Speedzone is safe to spray in temps below 90 ° F - spraying in higher temps will damage your grass.

If your lawn is large - over 10,000 sq. ft. - consider hiring a lawn treatment service to do the spraying. They will have the equipment to get good coverage...and a better kill.

Fall Lawn Repair:

  1. Beginning late summer/early fall - spray clover and wait a couple of weeks

  2. Aerate and overseed - run a core aerator over your lawn in at least 3 directions. Then overseed with a quality seed blend at a rate of 5 lb per 1000 ft2.

    Apply a starter fertilizer (1/2 lb per 1000 ft2) and water, water, water - keeping the seed moist until it germinates and then make sure it gets up to 1" of water/rain per week.

  3. Fall fertilizer is the most important for cool season lawns. Fertilize again in early October and early November with a slow release or organic based fertilizer at a rate of 1 lb Nitrogen per 1000 ft2.

  4. How's the soil? If the the builder didn't bring in good topsoil - at least 2 inches - I would topdress with compost after the seed has sprouted and has been mowed a couple times (early October). Its really easy to do, just dump wheel barrows around your yard and rake in with a leaf rake. Spread 3/4 cubic yard per 1000 ft2.

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