Clover comeback? ‘Bee lawns’ gaining favor

By Dean Fosdick, AP

Turf grass may be an attractive groundcover for homeowners but it doesn’t hold much appeal for pollinators.

Add some broadleaf plants with flowers to the mix, however, and it’s a different story: great forage for the birds and the bees. Lower maintenance, too.

“Bee lawns aren’t 100 percent flowers. They have some grass included,” said Mary Meyer, an extension horticulturist and professor with the University of Minnesota. “While bees don’t use grass, humans do. Most flowers, if you start walking on them, will die. Clover will tolerate a bit of foot traffic.”

Nitrogen-rich Dutch white clover generally is considered the best companion to cool-season lawn grasses when the objective is attracting pollinators, said Mace Vaughan, pollinator program director for The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, Oregon. “You can mow it and keep it relatively tame in a lawn, and bees love it,” Vaughan said. “The good thing about Dutch white clover is that it is good (to grow) across most of the U.S.”

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