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The pink, spherical inflorescences of red clover (Trifolium pratense), also known as meadow clover, are beautiful to look at between the months of May and October. The clover is not only used as a forage plant, but also in folk medicine and the flowers are also very popular with bees as a source of pollen. However, red clover can also become a plague very quickly if it spreads in the lawn. The herbaceous growth is then very difficult to combat.

Red clover in the lawn

The native plant can grow up to 80 cm high and the taproots of the red clover reach up to 2 meters deep into the ground. In addition to self-seeding, it also spreads rapidly underground through offshoots, the so-called rhizomes, and takes away light, space and nutrients from the lawn plants. Eventually, the clover completely displaces the grass. Red clover is extremely robust and, especially with weakened grasses, it can quickly gain a foothold when

  • the balance of the ground is disturbed
  • high soil pH levels are present
  • nutrients are missing
  • care is inadequate

notice: Excessively high soil pH values are ideal growth conditions for Trifolium pratense. Low-nitrogen and loamy soils are particularly affected.


Red clover is very stubborn and can be very difficult to control since it is deeply rooted in the soil. The plant must always be completely removed. Even small pieces of root left in the ground can stimulate new shoots. Below are various measures to remove red clover from the green area. Sometimes a combination of different control methods makes sense.

Scarify the lawn

Heavy weed growth inhibits the development and growth of lawn plants. Scarifying the ground can be helpful here. In this process, lawn thatch, clover, dead plants and moss are removed mechanically and the soil is loosened at the same time. Water and oxygen can then reach the roots of the lawn plants unhindered.

  • best time in spring
  • Edit surfaces several times
  • apply new lawn seed to bare spots
  • then water well and fertilize

Electric or petrol scarifiers should be used for larger areas, as this work can be very strenuous. These devices can be hired in garden centers and hardware stores.

scarify the lawn

tip: With the scarifier you should work the surface once lengthways and then once across. This is the most effective way to uproot clover.

Cut out by hand

This method is well suited to combat red clover in small areas. However, the time required and the physical strain are relatively high. A longer kitchen knife can be used to cut out. In addition, special shoehorn-shaped weed pullers with a long handle are also commercially available. Cutting out the red clover should always be repeated several times.

  • cut out the entire root
  • repeat regularly
  • Fill holes with a mixture of soil and sand
  • overseed grass in bare patches
  • Use special overseeding mixture
  • then water sufficiently
  • important for good germination
  • application of fertilizer

tip: Red clover must always be removed mechanically first. Otherwise other measures cannot take effect.

Deployment of a plastic sheet

Alternatively, a plastic tarpaulin can be stretched over a large area of the affected lawn. This method is very effective and environmentally friendly. A normal, darker ground sheet from the hardware store can be used here.

  • Fixing the foil with stones or tent pegs at corners
  • period of at least four weeks

Due to the lack of light and also lack of oxygen, red clover will die within this time. However, there is also the possibility that the lawn will be affected. However, he usually recovers. If this is not the case, then reseeding is advisable.

notice: Snails like to crawl under the tarpaulin and other insects also find shelter.

If nothing helps

If there is an excessive stocking with red clover, however, only a complete renewal of the lawn is usually recommended. To do this, it is necessary to carefully remove all the roots of the meadow clover. Even the smallest remaining root remnants can sprout again. The roots should therefore not be disposed of on the compost heap, but rather in the residual waste.

The floor may need to be completely replaced. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • best time in spring or late summer
  • Remove the soil to a depth of 30 to 50 cm
  • Removal of all roots and stones
  • Sieve soil through a coarse sieve several times
  • then again through a fine sieve
  • Mix soil with fresh hummus or compost
  • Apply soil mixture to surface
  • compact well
  • Reseed the lawn
  • water well and keep moist

Use of chemical agents

Just a few comments on this for information. If possible, however, chemical agents should be avoided. you are not very environmentally friendly. Sometimes they can also be dangerous for bees and other insects. The commercially available clover destroyers in the lawn are based on the destruction of dicotyledonous plants such as meadow clover. They are not harmful to monocot plants such as grass. You should always pay attention to which active ingredients are included. These must be effective against red clover or dicot weeds in general. The usage is done

  • according to package instructions
  • Do not mow the lawn beforehand
  • Use on warm days
  • Medium works through leaves
  • stimulates rapid growth of plants
  • this breaks down metabolism
  • Use on rainy days
  • otherwise washing away the agent
  • water the lawn the night before
  • effect of short duration
  • Repeat every three to five weeks
  • remove dead plants
  • overseed the lawn
  • Fertilization with phosphate-free fertilizer

However, as already mentioned, chemical agents should really only be used in emergencies when nothing else works.

tip: A good home remedy for combating red clover in lawns is boiling hot water. Pour this onto the affected area, let it dry and finally remove the dead plant.

changing soil conditions

However, red clover cannot simply be removed from the lawn by cutting it out and scarifying it, as the roots go deep into the ground. At the same time, the soil conditions have to be changed. In other words, all growth conditions for the meadow clover must be made worse.

Optimizing the pH of the soil

  • light garden soil pH of 6.0
  • heavy soils pH around 7.0
  • reduce the lime content of the soil
  • for example adding leaf soil or rotted pine needles
  • targeted fertilization
  • aeration of the lawn

If there is pronounced meadow clover growth on normal garden soil, it can be assumed that the soil is too calcareous. The pH is above 7.0, ideal for red clover. Furthermore, there is no water storage here and there is a lack of nutrients for the lawn plants. Determining the pH value is always recommended. For this purpose, a soil sample can be analyzed in the laboratory. You can also determine it yourself using a pH value test set from the hardware store. Depending on the result, appropriate measures can then be taken.

prevent clover growth

An important measure here is to increase lawn growth. Only in healthy and strong lawn plants does clover have no chance of spreading. Appropriate care is required for this:

  • scarify in spring
  • thereby removing root felt, dried matter and moss
  • Formation of a closed turf stimulated
  • water regularly during dry periods
  • Drought weakens lawn roots
  • best time early evening or morning hours
  • evenings only on hot days
  • otherwise fungus infestation possible on cool nights
  • avoid watering during midday heat
  • mow regularly
  • once or twice a week depending on growth
  • no deeper than 3 to 5 cm
  • ideal cutting height 4 cm

notice: If the cutting height is too low, the lawn plants will then lack the appropriate leaf mass to be able to regenerate. Red clover, on the other hand, needs a lot of light to grow. Low cutting heights would therefore accelerate its growth. Proper nutrition is also necessary for good strengthening and growth of the lawn while preventing the spread of red clover.

Fertilize properly

Fertilizers are used to provide the grass plants with the nutrients they need. There should be three fertilizations: in April, in June and in mid-October. The application of fertilizer is particularly important after the winter before new growth. Nitrogen is then essential for the formation of a dense turf. In addition to uniform growth, this also ensures protection against burns in summer and counteracts clover growth.

  • Use of slow-release fertilizer with a high nitrogen content
  • Phosphate content should be low
  • Phosphate accelerates clover growth
  • prefer organic fertilizers such as horn shavings or horn meal (long-term effect)
  • special mineral lawn fertilizers with a low phosphate content are also possible
  • in the fall use of potassium-containing fertilizers
  • offer protection against cold and drought
  • Spring nitrogenous fertilizer to accelerate growth
  • even application with a spreader or liquid fertilizer with a watering can
  • Fertilization just before the rainy season
  • no rain in sight, water in advance
  • However, blades of grass must be dry
  • not on dry soil and blazing sun
  • best time early morning or late afternoon

Hobby gardeners also like to use lime. The lawn should only be whitewashed if a soil analysis is available. Otherwise, the surface can easily become over-limed, which in turn suits the growth conditions of Trifolium pratense.

notice: Pale blades of grass and the excessive presence of weeds in the lawn are early signs of a nutrient deficiency. It is then time to fertilize.

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