Marsh Grass how to this Improve Habitat
Habitat Improvement
Messages posted to thread:
algee 15-Feb-18
APauls 15-Feb-18
Butternut40 15-Feb-18
Mark Watkins 15-Feb-18
B2K 15-Feb-18
deerhaven 15-Feb-18
Vino&Venison 16-Feb-18

By: algee

algee's MOBILE embedded Photo

I have a few acres of marsh grass (upper right on picture)on my property that offer no real cover or food. What would be a beneficial shrub, tree or both that could be planted to improve the deer habitat as the marsh grass offers none of this. The area is wet in the spring after the snow melt but is dry during the summer and fall. Also what would be the best method to control the grass...spring burn,round up or something else?

Located in SW Wisconsin.

TIA Algee

By: APauls

If it is marsh grass doesn't that usually mean it is too wet for trees? Depending on your budget and/or access to machinery could you dig a large pond and use the ground you pull out to raise the land to make it suitable for whatever you want? Don't think it would be cheap, but you'd have to pull the land out and level it.

Some species of pines grow in a real wet environment, but not sure what else.


Butternut40's embedded Photo

If it drys out enough by mid summer you could put in a brassica plot. Round up works as would a controlled burn. I have to be very careful though in burning as I could start a peat fire or set the surrounding cattail slough on fire. Consider planting a dogwood variety.


I would look hard at planting trees to increase use as a bedding area. red osier dogwood (bedding and winter food), willow and white spruce improved all do well in low areas.

Good luck,


By: B2K

Mark nailed the species selection. Red osier and willow can be planted as live stakes. Simply cut branches of these species and stick them into the ground in April and they'll sprout roots and grow. White spruce and tamarack can be ordered from WDNR's nursery http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/forms/2400/2420-031.pdf The problem with planting within reed canary stands (a.k.a. marsh grass) is that it tends to pull the seedlings to the ground and smother them when snowfall flattens out the grass. Their dense root structure also makes it difficult for the seedlings. Expect lower success rates, but it is possible.


Try planting Swamp White Oak. I live in SE Wisconsin and have several acres of flood plain with Reeds Canary Grass. I started about 20 years ago with white cedar, white spruce and swamp white oak. I now have some 20 foot oak trees that produce a fair acorn crop virtually none of the other trees survived. Deer do not browse them or rub them much but love to make scrapes under them. You do have to baby sit them the first 3 years and spray a lot of round up and oust around them until they get rooted and above the canary grass. After that they are great. The DNR forester just told me they are doing some big test areas over by Broadhead and they are very pleased with the results. I have been putting in 500 to a 1000 seedlings every spring and plan on continuing for some time. By the way I am going to supplement my plantings with Red Osier like Mark mentioned


You could also plant Norway Spruce. I have been researching this and they will actually out compete grass. They would obviously grow faster if you eliminate the grass competition but it isn't necessary. Norway do okay in shade and can also tolerate wet feet. I planted Dogwood and Highbush Cranberry in some of our grassy swamps last year. I'm anxious to check on them this spring and will post pictures if I was successful. Good tip on planting cuttings.

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