Clover in turf good or bad?


Q. Last week when looking for grass seed, one fellow said I should use a seed mix with white clover in it. Do I want white clover in my lawn? He says he has it in his lawn and really likes it.

A. People generally either love white Dutch clover or hate it. They are either trying to purchase seed to increase it in their lawn or herbicide to get rid of it in their lawn.

For those who like it, I would suggest using it if you plan to have a low-maintenance type of lawn because every time you use herbicides to control dandelions or creeping Charlie or other broadleaf weeds, you will also reduce white clover populations.

Clover generally occurs in patches in a lawn. Clover foliage is softer than grass blades and can stain clothing more than lawns with grass only. Clover constantly re-seeds itself, making it difficult to get rid of in a lawn. The white flowers are attractive to bees, so look for more of these in your lawn.


The nodules on roots of clover trap nitrogen from the air and, therefore, do contribute to soil fertility. Wet seasons tend to favor clover and you will notice the patches of clover become larger during wet seasons.

Dry seasons discourage clover and you will notice patches of clover shrink during dry years.

Q. We have peas in our garden for the first time. I think we left them there too long because the pod became wrinkled and the peas tasted bitter. How do you tell when they should be harvested? We wanted the peas to get large so we would have lots of them.

A. Trial and error is probably best.

Your experience with this crop now gives you some idea of what peas look like when you leave them too long, so next year you won't leave them there so long. You already know, too, that when the pods are flat or just starting to get larger, the peas are too small, so harvesting in between these two stages is best.

Q. We have a seedless ash tree that is more than 40 feet tall. Can it be trimmed? If so, what time of year should it be trimmed? Will it sprout new growth like maples?

A. Dead wood can be pruned off any plant at any time. Live wood on shade trees is best pruned in the fall after leaves have turned color or fallen.

Ash, like any other plant, will usually respond to pruning by producing a flush of new growth.


Q. My hollyhocks' leaves wilt, turn brown and fall off even as the tops of plants are healthy and blooming. I have heard that it is "rust." What can I do to keep the entire plants healthy?

A. Hollyhocks planted out in the open seldom have this problem, as good air ventilation dries the plants each day.

In wind-protected areas you can try spraying weekly with Bordeaux mixture from June 1 to Sept. 1 to reduce the incidence of this disease. This disease seldom kills hollyhocks, and they can flower quite well even with heavy incidences of rust.

Q. What is the best time to trim/prune oak trees?

A. Prune oaks any time of the year except between April 1 and Aug. 1. Fall is the best time to prune any shade tree.

Keith Stangler has 35 years experience as a horticulturist. For comment or questions call (507)285-7739 or 1-800-562-1758.

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