Happy St. Patrick's day! Why not have some fun in your garden this St. Paddy's Day and sow a clover lawn. "But why would I want a clover lawn?" I hear you ask.
Answer: to give your leprechaun a nice place to frolic, of course! Or think of it as your way to honor the famous saint of the Emerald Isles, whose emblem is -- as we all know -- the shamrock, or three-leaf clover.
According to WikiHow, the best kind of clover to grow here in the US is actually White Dutch Clover. (Don't worry, it still looks very Irish!) A good place to sow your seeds is anywhere that your pre-existing lawn was struggling due to unfavorable conditions, such as too much shade or poor drainage.
For even coverage, mix the clover seeds with soil and then spread that mixture around, raking it smooth as you go. Next, gently cover your seeds with a very thin (quarter inch) layer of soil. The last step is watering, which should be done every day until the seeds can be seen sprouting. Use only a very fine mist to water--anything more vigorous will disturb your baby seedlings.
Now, clover is great and everything. It's a pretty little groundcover that makes a nice alternative to grass. However, there is a definite downside. First, do you have kids? Then forget about it. Clover attracts bees like nobody's business, so this is not going to be something they can run around on barefoot in summer. Ditto for anyone who is allergic to bee stings or who just hates bees, period.
Second, clover leaves are a bit squishier than blades of grass, so stains on clothing might be a bother to some. Third, clover dies down when the cold weather arrives, which might not appeal to some gardeners. Fourth, although clover grows well in a variety of soil and weather conditions, it cannot stand to be trampled upon too much. So it's not good for high-traffic areas.
If these concerns don't apply to you, however, and you're interested in the clover lawn concept, there's loads more free advice up for grabs on the Web. The site DoItYourself has a pretty detailed article on the subject. Good tips can also be found at EarthEasy and EHow. These sites elaborate on some of the great earth-friendly reasons to grow clover. Let's talk about that topic for a minute:
First and foremost, clover is tough, yet it grows slower and lower than grass. It therefore requires no mowing--which means you can put your feet up instead of plodding after a noisy lawnmower. Best of all: you won't have to feel guilty about causing air pollution by running your mower. Another nice bonus: save some money on gas.
Second, clover is eco-friendly because it is a nitrogen-fixer that enriches the soil. This means if you ever decide to use the land for something else, whatever you choose to plant there will grow better thanks to the clover. Just dig the clover into the soil and plant something new--grass seeds or some other groundcover.
Finally, a thrilling historical factoid: did you know clover was not always considered the weed that many suburbanites now believe it to be? According to Ted Steinberg, author of American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn, clover was once a common component of lawns.
That all changed in the mid-twentieth century, when lawn-care and pesticide companies convinced Americans that good lawns are pristine creations containing one species of grass and that's it. No clover. Or any other grasses or wildflowers, for that matter. Silly, isn't it?