Clover as a living mulch? Any of y'all done it? Will it out compete Bermuda?

Hey folks,

My trees are currently being mulched by shredded cedar/cypress. Unfortunately, it’s a losing battle keeping Bermuda out of it. Do y’all think planting clover seed around the base of the trees would be a successful way to keep the Bermuda at bay and increase the nitrogen to the plants?

If so, a few questions:

  • Any specific varieties for my area(8a, east of Dallas, Texas)?
  • How will it do in shaded conditions?
  • How will it do with full sun?
  • Will it spread into the rest of the yard?

I am trying creeping thyme for the same purpose but it isn’t fully established yet so I can’t tell you how well it has worked.

The purists will tell you that mulch is always best because any kind of growth under/around trees will compete with the tree for nutrients but I am willing to trade some productivity for better aesthetics and hopefully less maintenance over the long-run. (especially since I am a backyard grower and just don’t need an immense amount of fruit per tree)


Cant speak to the clover but landscape fabric works great for keeping weeds at bay.

1 Like

I’ve heard clover is not good because the bees will work the flowers all summer and catch the effects from spraying. If you don’t spray pesticide, maybe this point is moot???


Bermuda will scoff at clover and will rapidly colonize landscape fabric, growing up/down through it


Here in South Central Texas, our experience is similar to @Lucky_P. your clover will do ok until the first heat / lack of rain hits hits, and then croak. It is great to fall plant through maybe March or April (depending on rainfall / temps), but don’t expect it to keep the Bermuda at bay through spring / summer.

1 Like

Not much of a mulch for me if it’s dead through summer. That kind of kills the plans. Thank you. Have you found anything else that works well as a living mulch?

Is your goal total organic? Are you ok with 2 sprayings of round up per year? I use grass clippings from an area of the yard that is overly vigorous to help control the spread of grasses around the trees (FREE MULCH!!!), and spray a ~2’ wide by orchard length long strip (When I mow I also blow the grass clippings of the rows onto the trees). I guess i should ask about your layout as well (are your trees in a row?), as that will dictate methods that will work for ya! A lot of our native grasses are less vigorous as well, and don’t compete, like buffalo grass, three awn, etc… but will be drown out by bermuda if you do not exclude it…

Well, sort of on the organic, more of on the money saving and trying to stop buying so much fertilizer. I figured this would stop the encroachment of Bermuda into the areas of my trees/vines/brambles and add something beneficial at the same time. I’m worried all the Bermuda is going to affect all my plants’ growth and fruiting. I’m not willing to spray Round Up, although it’s not because I think it’s horrible. I just haven’t done my own research on using it. My layout is…well, all over the place with mulching done via shredded cypress/cedar out about a foot or so for every tree.

Here’s my little map of my backyard.

Clover is excellent living mulch but I do like to mow it Cover crop and mulch recommendations - #2 by clarkinks

IF you could completely kill ALL bermuda from your yard… then I would go for it, replace with a carpet grass as I assume you are in a higher rainfall area (more than 30"). It does great in shade as long as it is not complete shade all day (either dappled shade, or morning or afternoon sun are ideal, low maintenance spots for carpet grass to grow down here, full sun needs supplemental water during our droughts). Our yard at the farm has carpet grass growing under two 100ish year old post oaks to about 20’ past their drip line with no irrigation (they love the dappled shade), just natural rainfall of ~30"/year, and has been that way for 30+ years since mom and dad bought the place; sailed through the drought of 2011-2015. The carpet grass will spread during wet years, and retreat to the normal dripline +20’ during dry years. It’s aggressive enough to drown out other grasses / weeds, but not as agressive as bermuda in sucking up moisture / nutrients from your trees, and MUCH EASIER to either trim or spray back (once a year usually will keep it in it’s place). I don’t know where you are in 8A, but i know that 8 is it’s northern limits, so you will want to check and make sure from a local source!

1 Like

Bermuda grass and nutsedge laugh when people put down landscape fabric.!

1 Like

The three things I don’t like about my new property;

bermuda grass

The worst violator depends on the day…

Learn to like deer meat?
That leaves two equally tough beasts.

If I took two or three deer over the hunting season on my property it wouldn’t help so much with the damage they can do just too many of them. It is a healthy meat that’s free I do want to learn to bow hunt them which is allowed.


Yes, shooting doesn’t really help. They end up leaving the property during day and rubbing and browsing by night. I grow trees on vigorous enough root stock to get them above the browse line. Then, if you at least limit the number of bucks they aren’t much a problem.

A 5’ height and 10’ length of fencing held by a single stake protects trees until they are tall enough to get by with just something to stop buck rubs.

1 Like

Chad, clover here is basically a winter crop. Ranchers plant it in the fall to enrich their grazing pastures for the following year. If you allow it grow until it seeds it will choke out bermuda but you are defeating the purpose in that some clovers grow up to three feet before seeding. It will die after seeding and and if it grows large enough will choke out anything and leaves a fibrous ugly blanket of dead plant. If you keep it mowed it will not choke the Bermuda. It does fix nitrogen though and it does take up water to grow–sometimes precious water in our area of the country. I’ve thought about this too. Conclusion…bermuda dies with Roundup. All that being said there are lots of kinds of clover that don’t get so big…but bermuda is KING! I hate it too–except in my pastures. I CANNOT make it understand fence lines!!!


Bow hunting can be a great past time but very time consuming if done correctly. But if the deer are used to humans it can be easier to be successful. I really think that taking the oldest does out of a heard can disrupt their feeding patterns and home range.