Clover lawn in the backyard?

Our backyard lawn is slowly getting more and more pee-burnt. Not a nice picture to look at.

We are working step by step on achieving a "greener backyard" and are dealing with concepts like xeriscaping, hardscaping, less irrigation, less fertilizing - with the aim of not only lowering the maintenance part but also getting an ecologically-friendlier place to enjoy. As you know, remodeling campaigns are time consuming and sometimes turn to be never-ending projects; they are also not necessarily budget-friendly ones either and yet most turn out to be definitely worth all efforts in the long run. 

So our point now is: can we have a nice-looking lower-maintenance backyard which also is "greener" and ecologically-friendlier?

Most options for having a lush lawn and beautiful flower beds include excessive irrigation, fertilizers, chemicals. The option to fight the ugly yellow spots we currently have, caused by dog's urine, also can hardly go without chemicals.

One of the alternatives offered that I seem to like most is replacing the current one with a clover lawn, but this idea has not fully grown on me yet. It still sounds foreign to me and I need to digest more information before landing onto that solution.

           photo: www.versicolor.ca/lawns/

I browsed through numerous Internet articles on the topic - and I would like to re-post the one that I seemed to like most:

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A Lawn of Four-Leaf Clovers

By David Beaulieu, About.com

Do you automatically expect to find a lawn of green grass in front of a suburban or rural home? For those of you who have grown up under the hegemony of grass lawns, the grass lawn is practically an institution. It goes largely unquestioned that grass will serve as your "carpeting" for outdoor living. But perhaps it is time to ask some basic questions about lawn care and the landscaping needs in front of a house.

Are you sure the grass is greener...?

Close your eyes and dream for a moment. Imagine yourself opening your front door and stepping out onto your ideal landscape. What would some of the components of such a landscape be? Well, there would probably be some bright colors to catch your eye -- bedding plants serve this purpose. To punctuate the flat expanse of green between your home and the street, you'd probably want to add some trees (or bushes) to establish a vertical dimension. Perhaps a hardscape element such as a garden arbor or a water feature will function as a focal point.

But now we come to the component alluded to above, namely, the "carpeting" for your outdoor living space. For you will need to fill in between your bedding areas and trees and focal point with something that you can walk on. While mulches and hardscape paths adequately fill this role for some people's tastes, other folks like the feel of something live under their feet. Close your eyes again and picture the ideal living carpet of green. What qualities would it have?

Ideal Qualities of a "Carpet" for Outdoor Living:

   1. It stays a luscious green all summer, without being irrigated profusely (i.e., it's drought-tolerant).

   2. It is free of weeds, obviating the need to apply herbicides. Your carpet competes so well for growing space that the competition is choked out.

   3. It doesn't need to be fertilized.

   4. It is also relatively pest-free, so that you don't have to bother spraying pesticides on it.

   5. It aerates the soil on its own, so that you don't have to worry about counteracting soil compaction.

   6. It is soft to walk on.

   7. It attracts beneficial insects, including honeybees.

   8. It rarely has to be mowed.

   9. It doesn't suffer the discoloration from dog urine known as "dog spots."

  10. And if, despite all these benefits, you should ever want to replace it with a different kind of green carpet, it helps you to do so by improving the soil on its watch. Its ability to aerate the soil and pump nitrogen into it means that succeeding generations of plants using that soil will be better off.

"Okay," you may object, "it's time to stop dreaming and get back to reality. No grass has all these qualities." Correct. But I didn't say that it was a grass. In fact, the "ideal" qualities that I just listed describe not a grass, but clover.

And in this case, the ideal meets the real -- clover possesses all 10 of the qualities listed above!

The question now becomes, "Why would you possibly choose grass over clover?" The 4-leaf clovers may or may not bring you good luck, but there's no question that having clover in the lawn brings some distinct advantages...

Source: landscaping.about.com