Invite Winter Birds
Winter birds can add some color and interest to an otherwise bleak winter landscape. To encourage birds to stay in your garden this winter, set out feeders near evergreen trees or shrubs so birds have winter cover while they feed. However, if you have bird-chasing cats, or if raiding squirrels are a problem, hang the feeders higher off the ground and away from trees and structures. Keep your birdbath ice-free with a birdbath heater and keep adding fresh water.
Bring Out the Amaryllis
It's time to check the amaryllis bulbs that you cut back in September and stored in the basement. Look for signs of life such as new green growth coming from the top of the bulb. Once you notice a shoot starting to grow, bring the bulb into a bright, sunny, warm room, begin watering and fertilizing with a weak solution of houseplant food.
Drain Irrigation Systems
Before the hard freezes come, drain the water out of any irrigation pipe and rubber hoses. Water freezing in pipes and hoses can cause them to crack. Temporary PVC pipes should be lifted from the ground, drained, and stored in an unheated garage, shed, or basement. Rubber or vinyl hoses should be disconnected, drained, and hung up to be sure any excess water left in the hose drains out.
Protect Roses for Winter
Once the ground begins to freeze and you have consistent temperatures in the low 20s F, it's time to protect modern hybrid roses from winter's wind and cold. The simplest method is to mound bark mulch around the base of the rose, covering the graft union (the swollen part of the stem near the ground). The mound should be about one foot tall. Wait until spring to cut back the canes above the mound.
Mulch Vegetable Garden
Bare soil invites weeds. Cover empty beds in your vegetable garden with a layer of straw or shredded leaves. This will help keep hardy weeds from taking over. In the spring, you may be able to plant directly through the mulch without the need for tilling.