Build up the base of tender plants with a foot of earth to protect the roots over the winter. Climbing roses need to be covered or laid down. Hardy shrub roses may be fine with just some evergreen boughs to catch snow around them. Compost raked leaves in a temporary wire enclosure if they overflow your compost bin. Alternatively save your leaves for adding to your compost bin as the level goes down, in which case you can store them in a garbage bin with the lid on. If you haven’t already, empty and cover any rain barrels before the temperature drops below freezing. Spread leaves in a carpet under trees and shrubs to form a protective mulch; don’t leave them on the lawn, which can damage the grass. Water the mulch down a bit to help it stay in place. This can be a permanent mulch and a fine place to grow wildflowers. After the ground has frozen, protect vulnerable plants from temperature fluctuations with 15 to 20 centimetres of mulch. If you have only a few plants to protect, try encircling the plant with stakes and fill the area with dried leaves. To prevent damage from winter winds, cut back very tall raspberry and rosebush canes to about 1.5 metres. If your plants are healthy, delay the clean-up of perennials until the spring as they provide shelter and possibly seeds for birds. Destroy the foliage and stems of any diseased plants to prevent recurrence. (DO NOT place in composter.) Conduct a soil test to see what is needed. After the first hard frost, add a mulch of compost or well-rotted manure to your gardens. Water trees and shrubs (especially evergreens) deeply before frost. If your trees have had their bark split vertically in previous winters, prevent a recurrence by tying a 2.5 by 15 centimetre board on the sunny side of the tree. The winter sun can warm the trunks on the southwestern exposure. The trees are then damaged by the sudden contraction and freezing as the sun goes down and winter cold returns. Use burlap to wrap and protect plants from road salt or areas where ice may accumulate or drip. If deer tend to strip your trees or shrubs, a burlap barrier will protect from this as well. Clean and sharpen your gardening tools to prepare them for next spring.
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