Five ways to protect plants from Old Man Winter

A single night of harsh winter weather can undo all the TLC you lavished on your plants from the spring to the fall. But a little care and attention now can ensure your plants survive to thrive again next season.
My wife Cheryl has compiled a list of Web sites that should provide all the help you need to protect your plants this winter, so I will turn this week's column over to her. As Cheryl points out, "Every homeowner should know the best way to protect their landscape regardless of which area of the country they live in."
A frequent question has been on winter rose care and protection. With roses, a little prevention is worth the effort. The University of Illinois Extension site has put together a great page on how to protect your beauties over winter. It has sketches which make it easier to understand if you are a newbie to roses., which is my favorite site on hydrangea care, now gives information on winter care specifically for hydrangeas. It also offers great pictures on how to insulate any containers you may have (of any shrubs or trees). If you have any pots or containers on your deck or patio, you will want to check this link out for that reason.
Those of you, like me, who are just getting around to doing any fall clean up work in the landscape should check this out from the University of Vermont Extension site on how to prepare your garden for winter. It really covers all of your landscape from bulbs to perennials to shrubs to trees to vegetable gardens, listing everything that needs to be done for these plants to help make sure your plants get through winter with the least possible damage.
If you are in an extremely cold region with heavy ice and snow, you will find this link helpful as it gives detailed instructions on building A frames for your plants.
One of my all time favorite idea sites is the Fine Gardening Magazine web site. You can read and enjoy many of the articles from the magazine here. We often recommend this site to readers who contact us for tips and ideas on landscaping and gardening design. I keep old issues for reference and the link here is to one of the most informative articles for winter protection. This link will show you how to wrap your shrubs and trees to prevent damage from ice, snow and freezing winds.
I recommend printing these pages out for future reference. Keep them in a folder for easy access. Fall and winter is a great time to read about gardening and landscaping. Start a tickler file. When you find landscaping ideas, plants or techniques that interest you, print them from your computer or tear them out of the magazine and put them in the file. I started a gardening file years ago and continually add to it. When I want to add a plant or do something special with an area, I pull out my tickler file and go through it. There are always great ideas. After all, I thought they were great to start with. Right?
For anyone who missed our window box ideas last year, here's a link to it. It's just basic ideas and pictures to give you some thoughts to go out on your own and create great window boxes or containers for the fall and winter season.
In a recent column, I included a "lawn cocktail recipe" that drew some questions from readers regarding the 20-gallon sprayer that was referred to. I asked the reader who sent me the recipe to clarify. Here's his response:
"A 20 or a 25 gal sprayer (depending on the make & model) is available at Lowes, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, etc. It is about half the size of a football and only holds about a quart of liquid or Miracle Grow granules. The reason they call it a "20 gal sprayer" is because it takes (out of the garden hose) 20 gallons of water-to flush or empty the mixture inside the container. I personally prefer one where you can adjust the spray so it can shoot out a really heavy/course spray for the grass & bushes...not the delicate Miracle Grow one unless it has an adjustable nozzle. However, any one will work." - TSgt Michael Gray
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit
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