We recently wrote a lawn post, where we encouraged you to add white clover to any lawn overseeding this spring: Clover adds nitrogen to the soil so it’s an excellent organic amendment to any lawn. I have always bought my clover seeds at Farm Co-ops out of town, and didn’t know where you could buy the seed in bulk in Toronto. Happily, yesterday, I discovered a local source of white clover: Plant World on Eglinton, just east of Royal York. Plant World is another gardening institution in Toronto, with 6 generations of family owner and operators. Read about it here.
I’d never been to Plant World before and was pleasantly surprised to find an excellent new garden-supply destination. It’s huge, and they sell everything. (Good stuff and not so good, like many garden stores. I’m surprised how many garden suppliers still sell poisons and non-organic garden “solutions”. Scares me that there is still a demand for them) Anyway, they do also sell plenty of the good stuff, including these small bags of white clover seeds for $10. (500 grams of seed)
Label on Clover package reads: Clover has a nitrogen fixing capacity that benefits the grass that grows with it, as well as competing against the unwanted weeds.
Clover seeds are small, and a little goes a long way. You can mix clover with grass seed, or simply sow just clover on empty patches of lawn. Unlike grass, it’s salt resistant, so it will grow on areas next to sidewalks and driveways. For ideal germination success, roughen up the soil a bit first with a cultivator, and add a thin layer compost or triple mix for the germinating seeds to get their teeth into. Then tromp it down to get good contact with the soil. Water lightly.
On my trip to Plant World I also picked up some small pots of succulents (a growing passion) and some very healthy and reasonably priced pansies, and I’ll be planting them outside today. Finally something to go with the pussy willows I picked up at Canada Blooms that have been stuck by themselves in a planter since mid-March.
Squirrels ate my pansies down to a nub a few days later! Grrrr….
You've now got fat squirrels. Cook them for Christmas 🙂
Ha, Patrick. While the thought of squirrel stew sometimes appeals (especially after the critters eat our plants), no squirrels have been harmed in the making of this blog — or our gardens.
Dear Battersby sisters,
I am 80 years old now and no longer enjoy mowing the lawn in humid 30℃ weather. Or any weather.
I was told that Dutch White Clover would eventually choke out the grass and make a great no maintenance ground cover as well as add nitrogen to the soil.
I have an area 50' x 30' in front of my house that I would like to give this treatment.
Can I purchase some from you and how much would I need?
When you kids come out from among the lettuce would you please advise me.
I am in Toronto.
Hi, Mickey, Sadly, there's no such thing as a "no maintenance" garden. Clover is great, as it can be a no-mow (or little mow) garden. And certainly it binds nitrogen. Whether it would choke out the grass really depends on which grass is growing and in which conditions. An area of 50×30' (1500 sq.ft.) sounds like a "project" to me.
Another low-maintenance groundcover alternative might be Eco-Lawn, which is available via mail order from Wild Flower Farm. It makes a soft, drought-tolerant, deep-rooted grass — personally, unmowed Eco-Lawn reminds me of crushed velvet, which I like, but homeowners who find it floppy can mow from time to time.
We aren't suppliers of either.
It's possible to over-sow your lawn with each of these. However, you'll have to yank out any opportunistic weeds, both while the new plants are getting established but also when the groundcover is fully installed. That being said, the main advantages to both, once established, are little or no mowing, fertilizing or (except in times of severe drought) watering.
AWild Flower Farm says that a 5-lb bag of Eco-Lawn covers 1000 sq.ft. August to September is one of the best times to seed a lawn, and their website includes step-by-step instructions.
Probably, the process for seeding with clover would be similar. Squinting at the label in our picture, I think I can make out that the 500g bag would be enough clover seed to cover 2000 sq.ft. — enough to seed your lawn, then reseed any gaps.
If you want a uniform look, it can be better to start from scratch, which means removing the existing lawn before reseeding. Plant World, where Sarah found white clover seed for sale, might be able to suggest a local landscaper for you.
Good luck. Hope this helps a bit.
Hey stumbled across this, while looking for white clover as a nitrogen fixer for gardens. If either of you are interested in incredibly low maintenance gardens I would suggest picking up Masanobu Fukuoka's one straw revolution. The guys agricultural practices and results are phenominal.