The Q&A Archives: Lawn clover...

Question: We have been fertilizing our lawn and did have some white clover which I do not mind. But now we have the clover with small yellow flowers , it was black something. We are in a new area, this is our 3 summer and we have open fields of clover, both types and it is very windy here. I think the seeds or weed seeds blow here from those areas. I do not want to use a chemical to rid our lawn of this yellow clover and we had applied an organic fertilizer with weed control in the spring. What can we do to find out if this weed is a broadleaf plant to get rid of it organically? I have pets and many birds outside so chemicals are out. Any advice will be appreciated.

Answer: What you describe sounds like black medic. Black medic is normally a summer annual, but can act as a perennial in some conditions . It has a tap root, and spreads low to the ground, but it does not root from nodes on the stems. Black medic is more active on soils low in nitrogen fertility, but with all the weeds in the neighborhood, it's probably just blowing in and taking advantage of your hospitality.

The leaf of Black medic is similar to clover and other legumes, having three leaflets. Black medic's center leaflet is on a separate petiole.

The flower of black medic is a compressed cluster of bright yellow flowers in the shape of a globular spike on short branches. The seed pod will turn black at maturity. Black medic produces viable seed under normal mowing conditions.

Hand digging is the most environmentally friendly way to deal with Black medic (and other clovers, as well). Because of the root systems, broadleaf killers such as 2,4-D are usually not effective. You can use a premix such as Trimec that contains dicamba, MCPP, and 2,4-D. Another good option for control is to carefully apply glyphosate (e.g. Roundup), because this herbicide will move into the root system. Glyphosate is relatively safe for humans and the environment and it breaks down rapidly. Remember that even though glyphosate is relatively benign in the environment, it will kill any plant it touches, including grasses and trees, so apply it very carefully. One method of application is to wear rubber gloves and apply it with a sponge or with a cloth glove worn over the rubber glove and dipped directly into the solution. If glyphosate is used, select the concentrate formulation rather than the ready-to-use products, which are often less effective. Mix the concentrate according to label directions. Herbicides containing triclopyr can also be useful. When using any pesticide, be sure to read all label instructions and follow them carefully.

Best wishes with your lawn!

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