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Garden Q&A: Controlling clover and bring back the dogwood

Clover is difficult to control and actually good for soils. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun
Clover is difficult to control and actually good for soils. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun (Ellen Nibali / HANDOUT)

What do I do with the clover that has invaded my back yard? Leave it or try to get rid of it?

Did you know that not too long ago clover was part of lawn seed mixes? Because it takes nitrogen out of the air and converts it into a form usable by plant roots, it fertilizes lawns. It is also a pollen source for pollinators, especially early in the season when not much else is blooming.

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There is a growing interest in what is referred to as ‘bee lawns’ to help our besieged pollinators (which we need for about one out of three bites of food). Clover is tough to control, and you may want to aim at limiting spread.

One easy tactic is to mow high. Low mowing weakens grass and favors clover. Search ‘clover’ on the University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center website. Consider thinking of clover in a positive light in this month associated with shamrocks which are, actually, just clover.

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If you could only plant one small tree in your front yard, which one would it be?

An informal poll was conducted at Home and Garden Information Center. Our native flowering dogwood received the most votes, because of its early white blooms, berries for wild life and good fall color. Don’t be afraid of disease problems.

Yes, many flowering dogwoods died about twenty years ago, primarily those planted in baking sun and packed soils. But, with a diverse gene pool, the species was able to bounce back.

Being a forest understory tree, it should be planted in part sun and organic soil. As with all plants, supplement rainfall when necessary for the first two years. Choose a variety that is resistant to powdery mildew from the ‘Appalachian’ series (except ‘Appalachian Spring’) or ‘Cherokee Brave’. Protect from deer until it gets some height.

This is a spectacular native tree and deserves to grace our landscape again.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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