How to combat white clover

April 23, 2019 -  By
White clover (Photo:


Lawn care professionals battling clover don’t consider themselves very lucky. White clover is a broadleaf weed found in warm- and cool-season turfgrass. It can tolerate a wide range of mowing heights and environments and is a perennial, so it will persist from year to year.

The good news is resistance to pre- or postemergent herbicides has not been observed in white clover; although, it is always possible for any weed to develop resistance.

The best way to combat potential herbicide resistance in white clover is to use products that have been shown to have effective control against the weed and apply the herbicide at the labeled rates. Also, rotate herbicide modes of action whenever possible.


Leaves: Despite the hunt for the ever-elusive four-leaf clover, leaves are typically found in a trifoliate arrangement with three round, elliptical leaflets. They often have a white watermark that partially encircles the base of each leaflet. Leaves are also slightly serrated along the margins.

Roots: Clover is a legume, so it can produce its own nitrogen. Therefore, it can persist in turfgrasses that are deficient in nitrogen. Seeds in the soil seed bank will germinate when the soil temperatures are about 50-75 degrees F.

Flowers: White clover produces white flowers on long stems that are mostly present in spring and fall.

Stems: Most active growth is in the spring and fall and spreads from stems and stolons that root at the nodes and can form dense prostrate mats or clusters.

Controlling clover:

Since white clover is a perennial weed, preemergent herbicides aren’t effective; however, there are many postemergent options available for white clover control. Active ingredients to look for include fluroxypyr, triclopyr, quinclorac, dicamba, 2,4-D, MCPP, MCPA, metsulfuron, trifloxysulfuron and topramezone.

Sources: Eric Reasor, Ph.D., Southeast research scientist, PBI-Gordon; Jason Fausey, director of technical services, Nufarm

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Clara Richter

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