During the winter months, stay off the lawn when the soil is soggy wet. Your weight is almost certain to cause soil compaction.

Plant roots breathe oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. These gases must move through the spaces between soil particles. The smaller these channels are, the slower the gases move. If they are too small, plant roots suffer from a lack of oxygen and an overdose of carbon dioxide. FERTILIZING FRUIT TREES -- This is a good time of year to fertilize grape vines and fruit trees. But unless they need it badly, don't fertilize those that haven't started to bear; that may delay their start in producing fruit.

Give each grape vine two pints of 10-6-4 fertilizer. Spread it on the ground around the vine, keeping three or four inches away from the trunk. Work the fertilizer into the soil with your hands or a hoe but don't go deeper than an inch because many of the feeder roots are close to the surface.

Spread 10-6-4 on the ground around apple and peach trees, from near the trunk to slightly beyond the spread of the branches. Apply four pounds per 100 square feet. Work it into the ground.

Go easy on fertilizing pear trees: nitrogen may increase their susceptibility to the fire blight disease. The best time to fertilize pears is in the fall.

Q. My three-year-old camellia bushes get flower buds on them but when the buds are almost large enough to bloom in the spring they dry up and fall off. Is there anything I can do to prevent it?

A. The plant probably is not adapted to the area. It may partially open its flower buds during warm weather in late winter or early spring and then when it turns cold the buds are damaged and later drop off before blooming. Perhaps sheltering the plant from wind and sun in winter may help.