How To Get Rid Of Japanese Clover: A Complete Guide

Japanese Clover has become a popular – or should we say unpopular – weed in many yards and gardens. This type of clover is an invasive weed that can choke out desirable plants in your lawn and garden. It grows quickly, can be difficult to remove, and can often take over an area if left untreated.

Getting rid of Japanese clover can be a challenge, but with these tips, you can get the job done, and with perseverance, you can eliminate Japanese clover from your property for good!

In this guide, we will discuss how to get rid of Japanese clover, as well as what it is and how to identify it, and give you some tips on how to prevent it from coming back. Let’s get to it!

What is Japanese Clover?

Japanese Clover is a type of flowering plant that is in the legume family. It is also called Common Lespedeza and its scientific name is Kummerowia striata. It is natively found in most regions of Asia, particularly in the east, and has been introduced to the eastern United states as an invasive weed species.

It was most likely accidentally carried to North America as an accidental seed contaminant, but it was subsequently imported and cultivated deliberately. The plant was first cultivated in the 1800s and is now found across most of the United States, although it is concentrated in the east. After the Civil War, its spread exploded, and it has continued to spread throughout the country, thriving in disturbed, sandy soils.

It is beneficial to human health and agriculture, as well as providing a food source for numerous species throughout the ecosystem. It has been utilized to keep pastures green and providing forage food for livestock. It has also been used to restore coal mines that had been abandoned, as well as prevent erosion in loose, sandy ground or on slopes.

Japanese Clover is used in traditional Chinese medicine as an anti-inflammatory. The plant promotes circulation, removes heat, and detoxes blood. It has been historically used to cure diarrhea, wounds, abscesses, and nausea. Fever can be treated with it; additionally, it may help with dizziness, nausea, vertigo, and stimulate appetite.

Where and How Does Japanese Clover Grow?

Natural Japanese Clover is found primarily in China and Japan. It is invasive to North America and is found along the east coast from New York to Florida, although it also has been seen as far west as New Mexico.

It’s unusual to encounter a single plant of Japanese Clover; instead, you’re more likely to come upon a group of them. It is most likely to be discovered growing in fields, forest floors, along the side of roads, or other places where the earth has been disturbed.

This weed thrives in moist, sandy soil that receives direct sunshine and is resilient so it may grow in a variety of situations. It thrives at 6.0–6.5 pH, but it can also grow in soil that is slightly alkaline (up to 7.0–7.5 pH).

What does Japanese Clover Look Like?

The stems of the Japanese Clover weed are sharp and wiry. Its leaves are dark green trifoliate (arranged in threes) and have three oblong and smooth leaflets. Its leaf veins run at a 45-degree angle to a prominent mid-vein. Its leaves have smooth edges and a short spur on the end of each leaflet.

The flowers of this weed bloom in the late summer and are small pink, purple, or white solitary flowers found in leaf axils on most of the main stems’ nodes. The fruit of the flowers is a tiny legume pod that contains a single seed.

It grows low to the ground and chokes out thin turf. It mostly grows prostrate but can also grow upwards, up to 40 centimeters in length.

How to Kill Japanese Clover

There are a few different technique you can use to get rid of Japanese clover, by using either organic and natural methods or synthetic, chemical methods. Here we will discuss both of them, as well as which ways are more effective, safer, and less effort.

Chemical Means

Japanese clover can be difficult to eliminate by just natural means alone. When used correctly, herbicides can be an effective way to eliminate Japanese clover and other weeds, although you should be careful when using one because it may also damage other vegetation.

We would recommend using a weed killer that has glyphosate as its main ingredient. It is important to carefully read the labels of herbicides before use and follow the directions carefully to minimize damage to other plants. In addition, it is important to only use herbicides when absolutely necessary, as they can potentially harm the environment.

A great glyphosate-based herbicide option to use is the Compare-N-Save Concentrate.

Organic Methods

There are a few organic methods that can be effective in killing Japanese clover. One method is to pull up the plants by hand, taking care to remove as much of the root as possible. This requires regular attention and quite a bit of effort, but can be effective if the area is small.

Another option is to treat the area with vinegar or boiling water. This will kill the plants and prevent new ones from growing. However, it is important to be careful when using these substances, as they can also damage other plants.

A third organic method that can be effective is to cover the area with black plastic or cardboard. This will block out the sunlight and kill the plants. This method is less labor-intensive than the others, but it may take a while to see results.

How to Prevent Japanese Clover

The best way to prevent Japanese clover from growing in the first place is to maintain a healthy lawn. This means mowing regularly, watering, keeping the area free of debris or decaying mulch or compost, and fertilizing as needed. A thick, healthy lawn will crowd out weeds and make it more difficult for them to take root.

Japanese Clover thrives in disturbed and open soil, so it’s easy to shade out by planting large shrubs or trees in your lawn. Also, amending sandy soil in your lawn so it has more soil and less sand particles is helpful to keep Japanese Clover at bay. Breaking up any broad-open areas is also a good idea.


Japanese Clover can be a pesky weed to get rid of, but with the right information, you should be able to eradicate it from your lawn. We hope this guide was helpful and gave you the information you need to eradicate Japanese Clover from your property.

We’ve outlined both chemical and organic methods for getting rid of this weed, so you can choose the option that works best for your needs. Remember to always read instructions carefully and take all safety precautions when using herbicides or pesticides. And if you need help preventing future outbreaks of Japanese clover, be sure to check out our tips on how to keep this weed at bay.

Follow our advice and you will have a yard free of Japanese Clover in no time! Have any questions or comments? Let us know in the comment section below.