Wrap tree trunks to avoid winter injury. This is most helpful with newly planted trees and with those that have thin bark when young, such as maples. It prevents damage in the winter when sun-warmed sap quickly freezes at nightfall and causes bark to split. The wrap also guards against gnawing animals. Use paper tree wrap, starting an inch below soil level and wrapping up to the lowest branches. Adhere with duct tape. Remove in spring to allow for new growth.
Protect plants from animal pests. Deer, rabbits, squirrels and other critters often find winter sustenance in your favorite plants. To safeguard valuable shrubs and trees, surround them with hardware cloth (wire-mesh screening) to keep animals at bay. Another option is to spray with a repellent, following package instructions and reapplying as directed.
Preserve moisture. Evergreens are most susceptible to drying out in winter. Consider spraying with an anti-desiccant, also known as an anti-transpirant, a protective coating that reduces the amount of water that escapes in winter. Another option is to wrap plants with a double layer of burlap for the season, removing in spring.
Protect rosebushes. While some of the newer shrub roses don’t require winter protection, older hybrid teas and floribundas may. Where winters are cold, protect susceptible roses with a homemade cylinder of chicken wire filled with chopped leaves (oak leaves are best because they hold less moisture). Remove in early spring.
Add mulch. Wait until after a hard freeze, then add a protective layer of mulch to your beds (wood chips or shredded leaves, for instance). This will keep the soil at a more even temperature and help prevent the soil from breaking open during the freeze-thaw cycle and forcing plants out of the ground.
Water well. Don’t stress plants needlessly. If you have a dry fall, you may need to water plants even after they start to go dormant. Make sure they are braced for winter in cold climates by watering until the ground freezes. In warm climates, water throughout the winter if rain is lacking.