Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick: To Be in Clover (or Not to Bee) (for the Week of July 15, 2007)

July 13, 2007

Q. Dear Twig: The lawn at my house has clover in it. Is that good or bad?

A. It depends. It depends on if you like your lawn to have only grass in it. If you want to have honeybees around or not. And other factors, too.

When I was a nymph, lots of clover — white, or Dutch, clover — grew in the lawn of my grandfather, Grampa Trunk. He didn't mind.

Some people like clover. They like the look of the little green leaves and the pretty round white and pink flowers.

They like that clover "fixes" nitrogen ("NI-truh-jen"; a key plant nutrient). The roots take nitrogen out of the air and turn it into a form that plants — the clover and also the plants around it — can eat and use to grow.

They like that honeybees like clover, too. The bees collect and eat clover pollen. Gardeners like to have bees around. The bees also pollinate other plants, too — like the fruits and vegetables that grow in a garden.

But: Nowadays lots of people want only grass to grow in their lawn, nothing else. They spread weed killers that kill the clover.

And some people don't want bees around. They're scared they might get stung. Or they might be allergic to getting stung, a serious matter indeed.

Clover good or bad? It depends. Sit in the shade in the grass and/or clover and figure out what works for you!

Twig

P.S. For clover-friendly lawn-care tips, go to http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/4000/4031.html/.

Notes: The Web link is for the Ohio State University Extension fact sheet "Natural Organic Lawn Care for Ohio." Farmers generally consider white clover a valuable addition to pastures on farms. But many people who have or care for lawns see it as a weed and don't want it there. A Canadian Web site, "The Clover Option," looks at the history of having clover in lawns (or not) ("Clover lawns were once in vogue") and, if you're interested in having clover in your own lawn, has lots of plans and seeding instructions. Find it at http://versicolor.ca/lawns/secC4.html#subtitle2/.

About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, knebusch.1@osu.edu, (330) 263-3776. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.

Author(s): 
Kurt Knebusch