I buckle my seat belt when driving to be prepared for an accident that I hope never comes. Some gardening practices are done in the hopes they aren’t needed. Prevention is better than treatment after the fact.

Using a tree wrap is one preventative. I like to use the white plastic wraps on my thin barked trees that are young. The physical barrier protects the bark from damage. Deer, voles, rabbits and other rodents could cause damage to the trees. History has shown that cats also can scratch up thin bark trees.

Tree wraps are suggested to be put on in the fall and removed next spring as growth begins. Besides being a physical protection, they may moderate trunk temperatures. Trunk injury may occur on young trees on the south and west side in the winter if not shaded.

Wire cages are put on multi-stem plants, particularly the young plants that were planted this year. It appears to me that if you plant it, creatures that I have never seen in the yard will come to damage it.

A layer of mulch is protection for roots and crowns of many plants. I prefer wood chips that compost and turn into soil, improving ingredients for the plants. With our clay soil types, an inch or two of wood chip mulch is sufficient. The coarser mulch requires a deeper application.

Perennial beds, shrub beds and tree rings can have mulch applied. I still grow hybrid tea roses that require a mound of mulch over the crown to protect them from severe cold temperatures. The layer of mulch assists in reducing the fluctuations of soil temperatures.

Winterizing the garden is fun when I can spread it out over time. The recent cold shouldn’t have damaged our hardy plants. It takes time, however, to work on the fall chores.

You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the Riley County, K-State Research and Extension website at www.riley.ksu.edu. Gregg may be contacted by calling 785-537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: geyeston@ksu.edu.

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