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Clover rampant this spring

June 19, 1997

By VANDANA SINHA

Staff Writer

Everything's coming up clover, and Tri-State area homeowners and others aren't all that pleased about it.

Pam Weidner, for instance, discovered an "annoying" number of clover weeds in the front yards of Orchard Manor Apartments in Boonsboro and The Point at Smithsburg, the two apartment complexes she manages, she said.

"They're everywhere this year," said Weidner, of Boonsboro. "They're covering the whole grounds."

The abundance of the white-flowered weed has its roots in last year's cool, wet summer, which enabled clover to flourish, said Sandy Scott, horticulture consultant for the Washington County Cooperative Extension Service.

Wind scattered the seeds from the plants to the four corners of the Tri-State area, said Scott.

As those seeds germinated this spring, clover plants began popping up and blooming.

Adding to the problem was the spring's cool, dry weather, a condition that prevents herbicides from effectively attacking the plants' roots.

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"This season, we've really had a double whammy," said Scott, who noted that a several hundred area residents have called the extension office with clover complaints since March.

To kill clover, homeowners must water their lawns and then apply weed killers when temperatures are between 50 and 90 degrees, Scott said.

Or, she said, they can wait until September, when the ground should be warm and moist.

But beware of aggressive patches of clover that "actually squeeze out the grass" if left uncontrolled, she said.

"I really feel sorry for the lawn companies," Scott said with a laugh.

But area lawn-care services do not seem to mind the extra business.

"From my standpoint, it's great," said Al Cook, commercial sales representative for the Hagerstown TruGreen-ChemLawn branch.

Cook said the top priority for 90 percent of his callers is eradication of the broad-leafed weeds.

When sprayed with the company's pesticide product, he said the clover plants "start to curl up within a couple of days, and within a week they're pretty much fried."

But like Scott, he emphasized watering and properly mowing the lawn to ensure the product's success.

"Yes, we have lots of calls," said Hallie Heverley, an Ehrlich Green Team customer service representative who fields about two or three clover spray requests a day. "The clover is just taking over."

Dusty French, a technician for the Hagerstown company, said he has tended between 20 to 40 lawns blanketed with the white-flowered weed.

"It's crazy," he said. "All you see is white clovers."

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