How can I improve bedding cover in areas where hing-cutting has been completed?

By Grant Woods,

  Filed under:

← Grant's AnswersHabitat Management
My question is pertaining to creating/improving bedding areas in timber. My father and I have attempted to create new or enhance existing bedding areas for a few years now, usually through hinge cutting to open the forest canopy. Though there has been some increased growth in these areas, they are far from the thick brushy mess I had envisioned. I have noticed that in spring, when most of our habitat improvements take place, there is a virtual carpet of leaves covering the ground. This thick leafy layer is packed together quite tightly from the winter’s snowfall. (Northern Wisconsin) I am beginning to suspect that this tightly packed leaf layer is actually preventing sunlight from reaching the soil which finally brings us to my question. In order to maximize the benefit from hinge cutting and opening the canopy to create bedding areas, do I need to expose the bare soil? (Leaf blower, rake, or by burning?) If so, in addition to exposing the soil, should I be seeding with local plants that are good for bedding cover? What would you recommend in my area?
Thank you for your reply.


I’m not a huge fan of hinge cutting for the reasons you described.  Trees that have been cut and continue to grow shade the ground.  In addition, the limbs from the cut trees rapidly grow upwards and don’t provide cover from the ground to three feet tall.  

Better cover (and forage) almost always occurs when trees are completely felled.  This allows more sunlight to reach the forest floor.  You might consider completely felling some of the hinge-cut  trees and seeing if this results in more herbaceous plant growth. 

Removing the leaf litter is a good idea also!  You could us a hand rake, blower, or prescribed fire (with proper training and safety concerns).  Fire does a great job of stimulating forage and cover growth!

Enjoy creation,


October 9, 2015