The Case for Clover Lawn, an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Grass

Edwina von Gal thinks lawns can become like cigarettes: something once popular and backed by a huge industry that could be rebranded as an unhealthy and expensive symbol of American corporatism.

One possible way to achieve this is to popularize clover lawns, said Ms. von Gal, founder of the nonprofit Perfect Earth Project. Online, with photos and videos of clover lawns regularly going viral—#cloverlawn has more than 65 million views on TikTok—the aesthetic shift away from traditional lawns is in full bloom.

“We call it our fairy garden. It’s very whimsical,” said Los Angeles-based content creator Angelina Murphy, who documents her clover lawn on TikTok. “We’re used to believing that a perfectly manicured lawn is what you should have, but we thought it would look better this way.”

Some Americans, with the vision of a perfect lawn as their goal, invest hundreds of dollars a year in chemical products and sprays to get rid of clover and dandelion in their yards. But Ms von Gar said clover lawns can actually be cheaper, easier to maintain and better for the environment.

Her organization, based in East Hampton, NY, seeks to raise awareness of the potential health and environmental risks posed by lawn and garden chemicals. Ms. von Gal promotes this by sharing her mission on social media and collaborating with influencers and celebrities. She recently appeared on a podcast with actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow.

Landscape architect Ms. von Gal defines a clover lawn as any green area that “allows clover to enter and pass through it,” rather than a purebred lawn full of clover, which means “to establish a single plantation and her task is to clear all the Other things that come in,” she said.

With wildfires, drought and heatwaves affecting much of the U.S. this summer, and with extreme temperatures predicted for the next few years, flat, grassy lawns may be little more than a pipe dream for many Americans.

In some areas, there are already strict regulations on lawn watering, for example in California, regulators have banned the use of potable water to irrigate decorative grass in many areas. More heat and drought tolerant than grass, clover is an alternative that still creates a pleasant lawn while guiding people to avoid wasting water and resources to keep grass lush.

“One of the great things about clover is that it doesn’t mind the heat. However, turfgrass is a cool-season grass. They’re not native to most of our lawn climates,” said Ms. Von Gal, who founded the Perfect Earth Project in 2013.

Ms Murphy, 28, said the clover’s attraction to pollinators such as butterflies and bees was part of its appeal. “It feels like a very happy ecosystem.”

Brian Sirimaturos, 47, a gardening content creator in St. Louis, said his tight budget was the biggest motivation for owning a clover lawn. Previously, he said, he would spend $200 to $500 a year on lawn care, and the costs of fertilizer, weed spray and pest control all added up.

Mr. Sirimaturos grows clover in the simplest possible way: by doing nothing. “I stopped spraying weeds. I stopped watering,” he said. “Over time, natural weed clover, mostly white and Japanese clover, has filled the weak areas of my lawn.”

His maintenance procedures are not that different. “I don’t care about it,” he said of his lawn. “I spend zero resources on it.”

Although Mr. Sirimaturos feels some social pressure to own a traditional western lawn, he insists on using clover. “Conventional lawns, as we know them now, are big business. Huge,” he said, adding, “Clover is resilient and strong. Labeling it as a weed ensures you have a never-ending A cycle of people buying dangerous long-term chemicals to try and kill it.”

Shamrocks don’t always have a bad reputation, even among the most traditional homeowners. “It has long provided important ecological functions by capturing nitrogen from the air and adding it to the soil, effectively fertilizing lawns,” said Case Western Reserve University historian, “America’s Green: A Guide to the Perfect Lawn”. obsessive pursuit. “

Seeing this as a potential way to make money, popular lawn care brand Scotts sold Clovex, a product that helped homeowners incorporate clover into their yards, in the 1950s.

Somewhere along the way, a switch was flipped.

“Herbicides such as 2,4-D, developed during World War II, killed broadleaf plants like clover, but left the grass intact, which brought clover into disrepute,” Mr. Steinberg said. “The recent interest in clover represents a throwback of the clock to a more sustainable and less expensive world. Fundamentally, the clover lawn is a throwback to the past.”

But he warns that the growing popularity of clover lawns could lead to a push for clover monocultures “just as some people crave a slick carpet of Kentucky bluegrass.”

“Nature doesn’t work that way,” Mr Steinberg said.

Certain types of clover have the potential to produce colorful flowers. “I specifically chose crimson and kenlan because I wanted a pop of color that would attract bees to my yard,” says Mahrjon Hafez, a 35-year-old artist who lives in Manhattan, Kansas.

While Ms Hafez loves her clover lawn, her neighbours have voiced their dissatisfaction. “They seem to be uncomfortable with me planting clover seeds because they don’t want it to invade the lawns that come in contact with me,” she said.

For Ruth Krulitsky and ​​Shelby Sanford, two best friends, 35, who live in the Kootenay area of ​​British Columbia, their clover lawn goes hand in hand with their mission to create more connections with the natural world. In 2019, they purchased an undeveloped land in the mountains and developed it as their home.

“The point is to minimize harm while still building a usable green space,” said office administrator Ms. Krulitsky.

The pair’s clover lawn sparked an interesting four-leaf clover hunt – Ms. Krulitsky had never seen it before, and found five in one day – and the awesome discovery that the clover closed at night. “It’s lovely, like going to sleep,” said Ms Sanford, the school secretary.

“We’re restoring city dwellers,” Ms Sanford said. “We want to develop a relationship with the place we live and be an active part of witnessing its development. With Shamrock in particular, we are constantly amazed and delighted by what we find.”

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.