Western Mountains and High Plains
Recycle Evergreen Trimmings
Christmas tree branches and other trimmings are good materials for mulching around shrubs and perennial flowers. They can be overlapped to cover root systems of perennials to hold in moisture and reduce heaving of the soil.
Check Plants Under Eaves
Plantings under the protection of the house's eaves may not be receiving adequate moisture. If the weather remains warm for prolonged periods or there is no snow cover around evergreen shrubs or ground covers, they can be damaged from desiccation. A good deep watering early on a warm day will help ensure that plants survive.
Use Alternatives to Deicing Salts
The common use of salts to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways can be harmful to plants. Instead of salt, use sharp sand from the local garden center. Fill up a wooden barrel with a sack of sand and keep it on the front porch. Spread a few garden trowels of sand on icy patches for better footing.
Remove Dead Branches
Prune back dead or damaged branches to the origin of the branch attachment. Avoid leaving a large stub that will invite more decay. Prune outside the branch collar where the cut will be isolated and covered over during the healing process. You don't need to apply a wound dressing, so don't waste your money or effort.
Check for Meadow Mice
On warmer days of winter, check around evergreen shrubs and ground covers for signs of meadow mice and voles. These critters can gnaw away at the bark and roots of evergreens. If you find nests or trailing runs, take action to control these pests by trapping or using repellents.