Not all of us are as happy as those pigs in clover...

Clover can quickly infest lawns.
Clover can quickly infest lawns.
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Few gardeners are as happy as a pig in clover – especially when said clover is sprouting all over the lawn.

Because while the pigs may be extremely happy being allowed to eat as much cloveras they wish, the majority of gardeners are tearing out their hair trying to eradicate a pain in the grass.

Clover, most commonly Trifolium repens, is a perennial weed with shamrock-like leaves and fragrant white flowers. It colonises gardens and lawns using runners that fix into the ground, and competes with other plants for space to grow.

Once established, it will spread – and it’s a beggar to shift. A few pigs could do the job, but they would remove everything else as well, leaving a deeply-ploughed field where the lawn once was.

Constant mowing with the mower blades set low has little effect – the flowers of clover seem capable of getting low to the ground. They bounce back up and remain standing, attracting pollen-seeking bees from miles around and thumbing a horticultural nose at the frustrated gardener. So if you’re mowing, rake the turf first. This will lift the stems of the clover and ensure more meet their fate – but always use a grass-box on the mower to stop seeds being scattered to other areas. Some folk will try anything to oust it. They are the ones who opt to try to dig out affected areas and replace patches of lawn with weed-free turf. Or they apply lawn fertilisers regularly to strengthen the grass, both in summer and in autumn. They begin the feeding in April when the clover starts to grow again when the temperature begins to rise. And if none of that works, they choose chemical warfare. The white clover so often found in lawns is relatively susceptible to dicamba, dichlorprop-P and mecoprop-P, the sort of stuff found in many proprietary lawn herbicides, and there’s a fair chance Trifolium repens will get the message after a few soakings.

But the easiest way is to never allow it to find its way into your lawn in the first place. Or get a pig...