Western Mountains and High Plains
Prepare ahead for a living Christmas tree
Dig the planting hole outdoors now if you're purchasing a living Christmas tree. Make the hole the same depth as the rootball, but much wider. Stockpile the soil from the hole in the garage to keep it from freezing or cover with a good layer of mulch. And cover the hole with wooden planks or a sheet of plywood so no one accidentally tumbles in.
Place holiday plants safely
Don't place flowering holiday plants near trouble spots such as fireplaces, heating vents or close to entry doors. Cool drafts damage poinsettias by causing bract and leaf drop. Forced air heat will dry out plants rapidly and invite spider mites.
Clean garden tools
Get your tools ready for storage by cleaning off mud and debris. A bucket of sharp sand moistened with a quart of motor oil works well for oiling cleaned shovels, trowels and other tools. Drain the gas from lawn mowers and tillers.
Use pebble trays to increase the humidity around African violets, orchids, ferns and other humidity-sensitive house plants. Cool-mist vaporizers work well placed near houseplants and help your sinuses too.
As the soil becomes cool and frosty, mulch bulb beds with a generous layer of organic mulch. Mulches prevent temperature fluctuations due to soil freezing and thawing and help retain moisture applied at planting. Keeping the soil cool will also reduce early emergence.