Americans use more than 7 billion gallons of water a day on their lawns. Over half of that doesn’t even help lawns. People overwater, which is bad for the grass. Some water just evaporates or runs into sewers, carrying pesticides with it. That’s a pretty heavy environmental cost.
“But people like lawns,” you say. “What am I supposed to put in front of my house? Stones?” But there’s an alternative to grass that’s just as green and cheery: clovers!
Clover is a dense ground cover known for its shamrock-shaped leaves and pollinator-friendly flowers. It’s native to the Mediterranean but traveled to America in the 1600s, where it quickly became a favorite among farmers as a cover crop and livestock forage. Clover then became popular for use in lawns - until it was shunned as a weed.
Clover has a secret superpower: It can fix nitrogen for other plants (and itself), providing a natural boost of fertilizer. Because of its nitrogen-fixing abilities, clover is considered a living mulch. It’s a legume, in the same family as peas, peanuts, and beans.
Clovers make great lawns. They grow easily, and they don’t need as much water as grass. They also don’t need fertilizer or herbicide. They reach a certain height and stop growing, so you don’t have to cut them. Clovers also make the soil healthier.
People actually used to use clovers in their lawns all the time until the 1940s. Then people started using herbicides to kill off dandelions and other weeds. The herbicides killed off clovers too. Over time, people started thinking of clovers themselves as weeds.
Maybe it’s time to rethink.
Time to Rethink Your Garden? Instead of endeavouring to achieve perfectly manicured lawns and pristine landscaping, imagine instead an oasis overgrown with beautiful flowers that support the birds, bees, and butterflies with their wild seeds and pollen - all with little watering, fussing, or fertilizing from you. More...