Order seed early for best selection, and consider purchasing disease-resistant varieties. Sharpen pruning tools, since it will soon be time to prune fruit trees.

Shrubs that need protection from winter wind and sun, especially broadleaved evergreens on windy sites, can be wrapped with burlap — never plastic — or you can build a protective barrier around the plant using stakes and burlap. Be careful not to injure large roots when putting in stakes.

If you haven’t already done so, tie multi-stemmed, upright shrubs, such as arborvitae and juniper, together by wrapping with twine or burlap to keep them from flopping over/splitting apart from excess weight of heavy snow. Don’t forget to remove string/burlap in the spring.

Prune out damaged or diseased branches. Now that the leaves are off, you have a clear view of branches which makes this a good time to prune for structure.

If you have not already done so, plant your living balled and burlapped Christmas tree as soon as possible. Mulch the tree following planting and stake, if necessary, in a site that is windy. It is a good idea to wrap the tree in burlap the first year or two to prevent wind damage, which will cause drying and dying, especially on the windward side.

Clean out mower decks and sharpen mower blades so they are ready for spring.

This is a good time to review state fertilizer restrictions. Only lawn fertilizer with less than 0.67 percent by weight phosphate content may be applied legally. Application of any fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium on lawns or nonagricultural turf is prohibited between Dec. 1 and April 1. Application of any fertilizer on lawns or non-agricultural turf within 20 feet of a water body or on paved surfaces is restricted. For information, visit on.ny.gov/2jEUTmW.

Phosphorus is carried to ponds, rivers, lakes and streams from lawn areas by stormwater runoff. Phosphorus in water has been linked to reductions in oxygen necessary for fish to breathe, algae that turn water bodies green and algae and algae by-products that degrade drinking water. If you have a pond, runoff or even grass clippings can impact pond water increasing algae blooms.

If you haven’t had a lawn soil nutrient analysis in the last three years, you may want to do so before applying fertilizer or lime. pH imbalances can impact plant nutrient uptake, and nutrient testing will determine what nutrients are lacking or in excess.

Composting can continue through the winter months. If you run out of leaves, shredded, non-glossy newsprint; straw; wood chips; or weed-free hay can be used as a brown. Remember this formula — three parts brown material to one part green by volume.

Why compost? Though it makes up only a small percentage of the soil, the organic matter made of molecules that contain carbon is critical for healthy soil function. High organic matter feeds soil microbes and leads to good soil structure, nutrient cycling and retention, improved water holding capacity and other perks. Low organic matter means soil organisms are hungry and less active, leading to less nutrient cycling and a structurally degraded soil. How much organic matter a soil is capable of maintaining depends largely on the soil texture inherent to the soil)and on past tillage, or management. Soil organic matter increases, albeit slowly over many years, with compost/manure applications, long term cover crops and reduced tillage.

Check stored bulbs and tubers, and discard any that are moldy. Turn houseplants every few days to keep them from growing toward the light. Use a damp cloth to remove dust from houseplants with wide leaves. Commercial products are also available.

If you have low growing plants that require winter protection, you can give them some protection by covering them with evergreen boughs.