How to get rid of clover and crab grass

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Do you want a perfect lawn that is green, dense and well maintained? Are you at the same time battling with the multiplication of weeds that seems to hold you back from living this dream? This is why you need to constantly observe our lawns and establish ways through which we can get rid of disturbing weeds that are a potential threat to the health of your yard.

In this article, we will look into how you can identify clover and crabgrass in your yard, their effects on your lawn and how you can get rid of them to ensure a healthy turf.

How can you identify the presence of clover and crabgrass in your lawn?


Clover, scientifically known as Trifolium, is a perennial weed that grows in areas that are poorly maintained. It blooms during early spring and towards late fall. The stems of the clover weed have three small leaflets that have a crescent on them and are shaped like petals.

It has small flowers that are white or pink in color that look like a ball of clustered petals and they grow to a very small height. Clover is featured with a shallow root system that does not allow them to survive through droughts.


Crabgrass, scientifically known as Digitaria, is an annual weed that emerges annually during the warm season. Crabgrass looks a little bit different from lawn grass however it may be difficult to identify. It has thinner blades and have side shoots. As its stem grows, it become bigger and starts to fall on the ground then begin to grow into a star pattern. The leaf blades grow apart from each other and their blades develop from a central point.

It keeps growing from the center and the shoots continually branch sideways and eventually become a thick clump of weed but at its younger stages it looks similar to a cornstalk.

What are the effects of clover and crabgrass on your lawn?


In as much as it is a weed, clover is beneficial to your yard for two reasons. One, it can help fertilize the grass on your lawn because it carries nitrogen fixing bacteria that enrich your soil which distributes nitrogen to the soil and increases your grass yield throughout your lawn. Two, it can prevent the emergence of the other weeds because its umbrella-shaped leaves provide shade over the soil and eventually prevents direct sunlight from reaching the soil for other weeds to grow.

On the negative side, the flowers on clover often attract large numbers of bees which may sometimes cause stings. It crowds out the grass on your lawn and sometimes it produces sticky and rough burs therefore it is not good for high traffic areas.


Crabgrass ruins the aesthetic fabric of your lawn because it leaves bare spots after it becomes dormant. Besides this, it drains nutrients and moisture from the soil due to its competitive nature that causes low grass yield which makes growth in your lawn uneven.

What ways can you use to get rid of clover and crabgrass?

Clearing out clover

There are various ways of clearing out clover from your lawn such as:

  • By hand weeding

The simplest way to remove clover would be by hand weeding where you pluck out its roots from the ground to prevent its further spreading across your lawn.

  • By fertilizing your lawn

A condition for clover to grow is under-fertilized soil with therefore fertilizing your lawn would add nutrients to your soil that would in turn encourage the growth of grass that would suppress the emergence of clover. It is important to consider the use of fertilizers that are very rich in nitrogen as clovers avoid growth in areas that are rich with nitrogen in the soil.

  • Mowing

By mowing your lawn high, the growth of turf grass is encouraged as the grass grows higher than the clover and in turn preventing the further growth of clover across your yard.

  • Using organic chemicals

Herbicides that have 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid as the main ingredient help clear out clover faster and prevents further growth. These come with instructions for application that you should follow to the letter.

Also, you can use chemicals that have ammonia such as ammonium sulphate to eliminate clover. These come with a user guide for application and should be applied after a rainy day for maximum results.

Getting rid of crabgrass

Crabgrass has an extensive tap root network that may make it tedious to handle, however, there are several methods you can use to get rid of it such as:

  • By waiting slightly longer before you mow

You need to let your grass grow longer than 3 inches before you mow in order to clear out crabgrass. In conditions where there is adequate light and moisture, crabgrass grows faster therefore the shade from the growing grass lets it die out slowly.

  • By pulling it out

The fact that crabgrass grows extensively into the ground makes it difficult to pull out however you can use strong weeding tools to twist and pull it by its roots.

  • By fertilizing your lawn and mulching

You can also apply a thick layer of mulch to prevent continual germination of its seeds and further spread of the weed. Also, fertilizing the bare spots of your yard will prevent crabgrass from creeping into your lawn. The bottom line is ensuring that your lawn is well maintained.

  • Using organic chemicals

To clear out crabgrass, you need to use post-emergent herbicides that have Quinclorac and Sulfentrazone as the active ingredients. The instructions for application often come with a user guide and you should follow them as required.


Properly managed lawns reduce the rate at which weeds would creep up. In areas that have been heavily infested with weeds such as clover and crabgrass, you may find yourself having to start over the growth of grass in your lawn when the methods of prevention prove to be ineffective in fighting them.

About the Author

Steve has been gardening for over 20 years now. He enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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