Weeds That Look Like Clover (with pictures)

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Clover is a cool season perennial that some lawn owners welcome into their yard while others do not. Clover adds some benefit to your soil; It takes nitrogen from the air and then converts it to a form that can be utilized by the soil. This reduces the need for fertilization.

You may be wondering if a particular weed growing in your lawn is actually clover.

Sometimes certain weeds are difficult to identify since there can be several types that look similar to it.

In this article, I’ll help you identify three weeds that look like clover.


Yellow woodsorrel or Oxalis – Photo courtesy – University of Maryland Extension

A common weed that you might see in your lawn is common yellow woodsorrel/oxalis. It’s an annual weed that often shows up in the cooler months.

Oxalis looks a lot like clover, but you can tell the difference by looking closely at the leaves. Oxalis has more of a heart shaped leaf, whereas clover’s leaf is more oval shaped. Yellow sorrel has yellow flowers too although sometimes they are closed up.

Oxalis goes dormant during the summer months but it will pop back up again in the fall.

I’ve found that oxalis tends to stand up initially and then it will lean over as it grows taller.

You tend to see oxalis in areas of the lawn where the grass it cut too low or where there is drought stress. These conditions make it so that your grass can’t compete very well.

Trying to hand pull oxalis will not be affective. It always ends up coming back.

Oxalis has a bulb that sits several inches underneath the ground.

Bulb generated weeds are generally quite hard to remove from your lawn because although the plant may come up, the bulb will still remain.

To get rid of oxalis, I like to spot spray using selective herbicides that kill the weed but not your lawn. A general broadleaf herbicide like Southern Ag Amine 2,4-D (link to Amazon) should get the job done.

It’s good to tackle this weed earlier rather than later. Leaving oxalis will allow it to spread and overcrowd your lawn.

Black Medic

Photo courtesy – K.Mathias, UMD

Black medic is a common weed that is a member of the legume family. You’re most likely to notice the small yellow flowers popping up during the summer months.

This annual weed is often misidentified as clover or Oxalis since it has three leaflets.

Its proper name is “Medicago lupulina” although its sometime called yellow trefoil and black clover too.

If you do have black medic in your grass, it might be an indication that you’re mowing too short or your grass is not healthy enough to choke it out. Make sure you’re fertilizing your lawn too.

A broadleaf herbicide like Southern Ag Amine 2,4-D will work well on black medic when the plant is actively growing.


Photo courtesy – UMD

Lespedeza is a prostrate summer annual, often referred to Japanese clover. It tends to show up in the summertime and you’ll see it in all different grass types, especially centipede grass.

It has wiry stems and small groups of three leaves that are oblong and have parallel veins. It will also shoot out a pink/purple coloured flower and it matures late in the season.

It looks similar to spurge although it has a woodier stem to it.

This weed grows very low to the ground and once the weed is up, you’ll have to use a post-emergent herbicide to get rid of it.

Like black medic, lespedeza thrives in turf that has not been fertilized.

The best prevention is to maintain a quality, thick and healthy lawn.

A broadleaf herbicide like Southern Ag Amine 2,4-D  will work well on lespedeza.

Eliminating Weeds That Look Like Clover

The most common misidentification of clover is yellow sorrel/oxalis. You can tell the two apart by looking at the leaves. Oxalis has more of a heart shaped leaf while clover has oval shaped leaves. Like clover, oxalis spreads really fast so you’ll want to deal with it before it starts to take over your lawn. It has a complex root system so treating it with a herbicide is your best option.

Your lawn can naturally choke out all the weeds mentioned in this article. The best method is prevention. Keeping your grass tall and thick and maintaining good crop canopy will limit resources that weeds need to grow.

Properly fertilizing you lawn will be helpful too.

A good lawn care routine will prevent these weeds from popping up so you won’t have to keep using herbicide products.

Finally, pay attention to your grass type. If you have a less resilient grass type, it will be less likely to choke out any weed so you may want to consider a total renovation to kill off the grass and reseed with tougher types of grass if weeds become too big of a problem.

Here are some of my favorite lawn care products

Thanks a lot for making it to the end of this post! I hope you found it useful. Here are some lawn care products that I use and that I think you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a commission.

In all honesty, these are some of the basic products that I use and recommend to everyone.

Broadcast Spreader

This Scotts Elite dual rotary spreader is not a professional grade model but it’s excellent for homeowners.

I really like the edge guard on it. It’s really easy to switch on and off so it’s great for going around my driveway and flower beds.

If you’re not looking to spend hundreds of dollars, I’d definitely recommend this model. It spreads out a wide path and is great quality for the cost.

Backpack Sprayer

This 4-Gallon sprayer is my absolute favorite. It sprays for a really long time. I’ve had this sprayer for quite a while and I’ve never had the battery run out.

The adjustable pressure switch is a really import feature to me.

You can order a lot of accessories for this model but I’ve never really found much of a need for it.

Head Aerator

Hand aerators are great for small spots if you’ve got construction debris or a spot that constantly dries out.

You can also fill these holes with organic matter that will hold a bit more moisture.

This one by Yard Butler is an absolute bargain. It pulls nice long cores. I also use it for taking soil samples around the yard!

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