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I bought a house 2 years ago in San Francisco where the yard had been allowed to do whatever it pleased. Now I have an amazing mix of clover, weeds and grass throughout the entire yard.

Is there a good selective herbicide I can use or is my only option ripping out the lawn and re-sodding/seeding.

We plan on doing a major renovation on our house in a few years, so I am looking for relatively inexpensive options to improve the lawn without feeling guilty later when the renovation hurts/destroys it.

  • Give the lawn some feed as well. The herbicides work better when the weeds are gowing fast. – Ian Ringrose Nov 4 '11 at 16:31
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If clover is taking over your yard, it is usually a sign that you are mowing too low. Around here (Pennsylvania), clover stays pretty low to the ground. If you keep your grass 3" or taller, it will naturally crowd out the clover (give it time).

The two best selective herbicides for clover are Dicamba and MCPP. Most general lawn weed sprays contain Dicamba.

Ortho Weed-B-Gone in the ready-to-use jug contains both, so it is more effective for clover. (Only the ready-to-use "jug" version contains both. The concentrate and hose attachment versions only contain Dicamba. No idea why.)

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  • There are different types of clover and habitats. As As well as low-lying clover, here in Texas it can grow into mounds that are perhaps 6in deep. A good mowing at a low enough level to decapitate the leaves will keep it in check for at least a year. – winwaed Jun 24 '11 at 16:04
  • I live in PA. Around here, it rarely gets thicker that 1-2". Suppose I should've prefaced my answer with that. – myron-semack Jun 24 '11 at 19:18
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Your big box garden centers are going to have a broad-leaf "lawn" spray weedkiller plus a "weed and feed" granular mix. The spray seems to work better. It is a herbicide so you're going to have to be careful with kids and pets - exact instructions will be on the container (safe after a major rain I think is typical). In my experience, these weedkillers work better on certain plants (eg. dandelions) than other plants. Overall I would "roll with it" and only use the herbicide for the worst plants and patches (eg. thistles).

There's another question on this site about clover specifically: It generally isn't that bad of a problem (and it is a legume so it adds nitrogen to your soil) - but I've found clover very sensitive to these kinds of herbicides.

In most applications re-sodding is a waste of money (and seriously oversold by guess who: those selling turf!) - especially if you are going to have "damage" in two years.

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