Protect Young Trees
The first couple of years after planting is when a tree is most vulnerable to being nibbled on in winter by small rodents and rabbits. To thwart these pests, install a cylinder of hardware cloth around the base of each tree, pressing it into the soil an inch or so. Make the cylinder several inches larger in diameter than the tree trunk and 12 to 18 inches tall. Keep it stable by attaching it to a bamboo stake.
Fertilize the Lawn
Late November, around the time of Thanksgiving or just after, is an excellent time to fertilize the lawn. University research has shown that late-fall fertilization instead of early spring feeding can minimize lawn disease problems, promote color retention in the lawn, and encourage early greening in the spring. Use an organic fertilizer that slowly releases nutrients, such as one from Bradfield Organics or Espoma.
Last Call for Planting Garlic
Although several weeks ago was the ideal time to plant garlic, it's still not too late if the ground is not frozen solid yet in your area. Break the cloves apart from the bulb, using the medium-to-large cloves for planting. In well-prepared soil with good drainage, plant the cloves 4 to 6 inches apart and 1 to 3 inches deep. The colder the winter, the deeper the cloves should be planted. Apply several inches of organic mulch, such as compost or shredded leaves.
Leave Perennials Standing for Winter Interest
Although cleaning flower beds in autumn makes one less chore to do next spring, some perennials provide winter interest in the garden and should be left alone for now. The ornamental grasses head the list, but others include sedums, anise hyssop, echinacea, rudbeckia, and buddleia. Be aware that some of these do reseed, but the seedlings are readily removed, and the benefits far outweigh the problems.
Provide Water for the Birds
Supplying a source of fresh water for birds is as important as filling the feeders. For ease of maintenance, choose between a birdbath that has a heater built in or add a submersible, thermostatically controlled water heater specifically designed for outdoor birdbaths to your existing birdbath. Otherwise, replace frozen water with fresh water every day. Whatever source you choose, clean the container at least weekly. Place the birdbath out in the open to lessen the threat of predators.