How we forget—or never even knew. When I was a little girl, looking for a lucky four leaf clover in the grass was something we kids did to wile away lazy afternoons when we wanted to be outside but not necessarily playing organized games. I have no recollection of what we did if someone found one and I don’t actually remember ever finding one myself. As an adult I never thought about them again except around St. Patrick’s Day when the world abounds in graphic designs of the mythically elusive good luck charm.
But sometimes old, thankfully becomes new again. My friend recently posted a photo of her new lawn on Facebook—her new all clover lawn. And a flood of childhood memories came rushing back. Clover used to just be part of the lawn—all lawns. In fact, lawn seed used to be judged by the quantity of clover it actually contained! No one considered it a weed. Until the 1950’s that is, when companies began selling weed killers to promote the proverbial perfect American lawn. Apparently scientists were unable to develop a weed killing formula that left both grass and clover and just killed weeds. So clover became a weed and the innocent childhood pastime of looking for four- leaf clover came to an untimely end.
So here we are today, and the perfect American lawn may be going the way of say, newspapers. If you’re like many busy Americans the lawn wars ( the ones between neighbors and the ones with weeds) are no longer fun. Homeowners would just as soon be freed from the slavery of grass cutting, grass watering, grass fertilizing and grass envy.
Not only that, many Americans are more knowledgeable and more concerned about the impact that chemical fertilizers are having on the environment related to our streams, lakes, creeks, rivers, and even oceans, and want to minimize their impact these delicately balanced ecosystems.
White Clover or as it is commonly known, Irish Clover is making a comeback in the American yard. And here’s the good news about clover. It doesn’t need much mowing. Yay! At least not like grass. It might get to about 8 inches but if you can get used to that height it won’t grow any longer. It’s pretty drought resistant so doesn’t need a lot of watering. It’s actually a fertilizer in itself and thus promotes healthy plants. Oh, it’s an evergreen so as long as it’s not covered with snow, you’ll have a green lawn year round. And it’s actually resistant to insects and diseases that might affect other grasses.
There are a couple of downsides to be aware of in the name of full disclosure. Clover attracts bees. So if someone in your family is prone to allergic reactions from bee stings, think carefully about where you plant clover if you plant it at all. And it apparently doesn’t hold up to lots of traffic when planted alone. So if you have a yard where you expect kids to play in a lot, clover won’t be as sturdy underfoot as traditional grass. But you could mix the grass with clover and get the kind of retro yard that I grew up with.