Protect Trees From Hungry Animals
Mice and voles can quickly girdle and kill a young tree in winter. Often you don\'t see the damage until spring, once the snow melts. Now is the time to place tree guards around the base of tree trunks. Use either plastic guards that wrap around the trunk or wire mesh. Be sure the wrap extends a few inches below the soil line and up as high as the expected snow line (about 1 to 2 feet).
Protecting Trees from Deer
As winter approaches, deer are looking for young, tender growth to eat. Often this means the branches of your new tree or shrub. To protect your plants in winter, wrap the tree or shrub with burlap or netting, covering the plant or at least extending it 5 to 6 feet high around the plant.
Use Those Leaves
Now that most of the leaves have dropped, rake and use them around the landscape. Leaves can be shredded with a lawn mower and used as mulch in a perennial garden. You can also add them to a compost pile or make a separate pile of leaves to decompose into leaf mold. By next year, you'll have partially decomposed organic materials that will be great for annual gardens.
Plant Trees and Shrubs
Deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted now and until the ground freezes. The earlier the planting in fall the better, as the roots need time to get established before the winter comes. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. Unless your soil is very poor, don't add soil amendments but use the native soil to backfill the hole. Keep the tree or shrub well watered this fall and it should leaf out fine in spring.
Fall is a good time to lime the gardens and lawn. Soils in the Northeast tend to be acidic, so periodic liming is needed to keep the pH at the optimum 6 to 7 range for most plants. Depending on the results of a soil test, spread lime with a lawn spreader, using the powdered or pelleted forms. If your soil needs magnesium as well as lime, use dolomitic limestone.