Digging out the plants is a relatively quick – although not necessarily easy – way of getting rid of most clovers. A fork and hand fork are usually better tools than a spade and trowel.
Regularly hoeing seedlings and young plants as soon as you see them is the quickest and easiest method of control. The aim of hoeing is to sever the weed stems at or just below ground level, cutting the top growth from its roots. A sharp hoe blade will make this even quicker and easier, so always sharpen the hoe blade before using it. Hoeing on a warm and/or windy day will mean plants quickly dehydrate and die.
Digging out the plants when they are more established is more time consuming and more difficult – especially where they’re growing among wanted plants.
Flame guns and weeders that use an electric current are also effective in some locations.
Covering bare soil with weed-control membrane (landscape fabric) or even thick black polythene will exclude light and prevent seeds germinating. As will mulching the soil with organic matter, such as a bark mulch. For mulches to work properly, they need to be a minimum of 5cm (2in) thick, but 7.5cm (3in) deep works better.
In lawns, clovers are pretty difficult to dig out, especially once they’ve started spreading. Regular mowing may weaken the plants, although those with sprawling stems usually grow too low and are missed by the mower blade. Raking before mowing to raise the stems up to the blade may improve this. Don’t compost the clippings.
As clovers are legumes and produce their own nitrogen, they grow more prolifically in poor soils. Regular feeding with a lawn fertiliser will help make conditions less suitable for clover growth.
As clovers are more drought resistant than grass, and proliferate in dry conditions, watering the lawn during prolonged dry weather will help the grass to continue to grow and out-compete the clover.