Just like animals prepare for cold weather by gathering food, building nests and growing their outer fur or feathers, gardens too, need some extra TLC come fall. Late fall and winter is the season when many plants, shrubs and trees typically go dormant. Here are a couple tips to winterize your yard's landscaping.

Beware of Rock Salt Use for Melting Ice Near Vulnerable Plants

Gardeners can save themselves a lot of future headaches and landscaping work if they pay close attention to where they plant all of the live trees, shrubs, flowers, hedges and bushes that make the property look so terrific.

In cold regions where snow and ice are frequent during the winter months, it is important to remember that ordinary rock salt used to de-ice patios, driveways and walkways can severely damage any nearby vulnerable plants.

This often occurs as the melted snow and ice runoff saturates the nearby soil and any plants that may be there.  Gardeners should carefully plan where to place any vegetation. Plant far enough away to protect them from this fate. Burlap can be used over plants as a protective barrier from cold and runoff containing rock salt.

When & How to Prepare Trees for the Coming Winter Season

Many trees are susceptible to frost, wind damage and more once the temperature drops. This is especially true for very young trees that haven't had the chance to grow deep enough roots to sustain themselves against high winds and extremely cold weather. It is essential that gardeners prune back their trees between late fall and early spring.

Pruning removes dying or dead branches, leaves or other foliage that may end up causing property damage later. When this chore isn't completed until after the spring cutoff point, the tree becomes stimulated to spurt new growth. Those young and tender new growth areas may not become grounded and strong enough to survive the brutal weather conditions that winter often brings.

In winter, many types of wildlife roam their territory in search of food that is scarce during colder weather. Any younger trees that are on the property can be protected from possible damage by these animals by installing wire mesh or similar material directly onto the tree's base where it meets the ground.

Rake Leaves, Cut Grass Short & Remove Dead Foliage & Debris

When a landscape is left to fend for itself as winter approaches, any debris, dead leaves, fallen branches and other leftover items may smother the grass beneath them leaving portions bare and unhealthy come springtime.

It is essential to rake up and discard any leaves, dead plants, branches, foliage and other debris before the ground freezes. The grass should also be cut short, fertilized and aerated in fall months to prepare the soil and preserve healthy grass until warmer weather arrives again.

Ensure Enough Water in Soil to Nourish Trees & Other Vegetation

Although most plants and live vegetation go into a dormant period when winter weather arrives, these living trees, shrubs and plants still need some water in the soil where they are planted to survive until the spring breaks.

Add at least two to three inches of mulch around trees, bushes and shrubs to keep moisture in and protect the soil from eroding leaving tender plants to suffer cold damage.

And last of all, remove annuals and plant cold-weather plants if desired. These vary depending on the region and growing zone level.