Micro clover or other grass lawn replacement?
I moved in to my first house with a lawn recently, and realized that I'm quite allergic to the grass (when I mow it I need to wear an air filter mask and really thoroughly wash my skin and eyes after). I was planning to replace the it with bark mulch or something, but then I heard that micro clover might be a good option because it looks nicer and is good for pollinators. However, since then I've heard a lot of conflicting information about it potentially being invasive or needing mowing that I'm worried might cause me the same problems. I'm hoping you can give me advice about what I can replace the lawn with (micro clover, mulch, or something else) that 1) is most beneficial to wildlife/soil/the environment and 2) doesn't require much maintenance. Thank you!
Linn County Oregon
We recently had a similar question about this topic answered by Brian McDonald, Senior Research Assistant-Turfgrass Program. Here is what the expert had to say:
“In general, a clover lawn is not persistent enough to provide a functional lawn for more than a few years without re-seeding. It is more drought-tolerant than grass but still needs some water in the summer. A grass + clover lawn needs about 1/2 as much water to stay green as a pure grass lawn. Clover is tolerant of normal wear but would not take heavy wear such as playing soccer on it. It will often act like a herbaceous perennial and die back in the winter and then grow aggressively in the summer.
DLF International Seeds has developed a "micro" clover that is finer in texture (and theoretically, lower growing) than wild clover. Strawberry clover is another potential option. The key to keeping it low growing is consistent mowing. If you don't mow it frequently, it will grow taller and likely get coarser leaves as well.
Since clover seed is really small, it can be helpful to mix it with sand or some other organic material of a similar size to get a better distribution of the seed. The seeding rate is around 1 - 2 lbs of seed per 1,000 sq. ft. It can be difficult to get drop spreaders to apply this low rate as the tiny seed falls through the holes at the bottom of the spreader even in the closed position. It is probably too late to seed now unless the weather warms up. I would wait until after May 15th of next year to seed.”
One source that you could check for seeding is Protime which is a source of native plants and alternative lawn seed. https://ptlawnseed.com/
Another link with more information is https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/lawns-and-microclover