After you tuck the garden in for its long winter's nap, shift your focus to holiday fun and a few last cold-weather chores.
Dress up pillars, a mantle, banister, or deck rail with evergreen roping. Two easy ways to attach the green garland are to use green pipe cleaners or to wrap light strings around railings, using the lights to hold garlands in place.
Outdoor evergreen wreaths last well into the New Year as long as they're kept cold. On warm December days, sprinkle them with water to help keep them from drying out as much. Avoid placing wreaths behind an all-glass storm door; sunlight shining through the glass builds up heat, making the wreath dry out quickly. Wire a few orange wedges, apple slices, or strings of dried fruit onto fresh wreaths or outdoor garland for a bird-friendly buffet. Display these wreaths where birds (and their droppings) won't cause a problem.
The sap from fresh evergreens can damage the finish on wood surfaces. Indoors, take care not to place fresh evergreens directly against wood furnishings. Instead, place greenery on parchment or colorful holiday-theme fabric.
When you're shoveling or blowing snow, get more for your effort by spreading it onto your planting beds as free mulch. One exception: Don't use snow pushed up from the street; it may contain plant-damaging salts.
If your area experiences a heavy, wet snowfall and you're concerned about the weight breaking the branches of prized trees and shrubs, you can attempt removal. Use a broom and with gentle upward motions, sweep the snow off. Don't knock on branches to shake snow loose; frozen branches may be brittle and are more likely to break from being shaken than from the weight of the snow.
Pay attention to ice-melt products you use to avoid damage to trees, shrubs, perennials, and your lawn. Most products contain salt (sodium chloride). Plants are damaged the most by ice melts that contain sodium or calcium chloride. Potassium chloride is less harmful to plants. In general, ice melt that is labeled pet-friendly is safe for plants.
Or, use materials such as sand or nonclumping kitty litter to create traction in icy areas.