During winter the weather fluctuates and can suddenly dip into freezing temperatures. The severe winter climate can damage plants with deadly frosts that break off stems and branches. Readying outdoor plants for winter is mandatory if you want them healthy come springtime. Depending upon the type of plant, maintenance could range from a minimum amount to regular daily care. Most plants enter a dormant stage during the cold winter months, but some plants such as evergreens do not. Tending to plants throughout the winter is a smart preventive step you'll be glad you took.
Clean debris such as dead leaves from the garden with a rake. Remove dead flower tops, leaves, weeds and decayed foliage. Take markers and stakes out of the ground. Cut back branches and vines with pruning shears to ensure new growth for the next year. Trim perennial plants down to the ground.
Dig up perennial bulbs and store them until next spring in a dry, cool place such as a garage. Relocate potted plants indoors to safeguard them from the chilly temperatures. Cover large container plants with cloth coverings and move them onto a deck or front porch.
Spread mulch around shrubs, trees and perennial plant beds. Protect the roots of the plants and trees from the harsh winter weather by layering the mulch a couple inches in depth. Cover the plants in the garden with a cloth cover to help protect from the winter weather.
Protect evergreen tree bark from cracking in the severe elements by wrapping burlap around the trunks of the trees. Prevent wind damage to evergreen plants and trees by creating wind breaks. Place three wooden stakes around the tree and wrap burlap around the stakes.