Great Winter Landscaping Ideas in Knoxville

 In Garden Tips

For a landscape architect in Knoxville, TN, it’s getting colder, and it’s getting darker. However, that doesn’t mean gardening is taking a back seat. You can still get started on your garden with some great winter landscaping ideas.

Indeed, you can’t plant all the flowers you’d like to or install the features you would in the spring or summer. But the winter season can still be a productive time for landscaping design, especially here in Tennessee. 

Winter Weather 101 in Knoxville, Tennessee

If you’ve lived here long enough, you’re most likely aware of how vast the weather differences can be throughout the year. We can have days where the mercury soars in the summer and days when it plummets in the winter. 

Since our beautiful state resides in what’s known as a humid subtropical zone – meaning Tennessee sees hot and humid summers and cold yet mild winters – the heat and rainfall allow for a wide range of landscaping design possibilities.  

However, our winters are mild yet substantial enough to make the most of it in your backyard. For this article’s purpose, however, we will focus on winter weather and climate patterns in Knoxville. We will also discuss surrounding East Tennessee and how they relate to landscaping. 

The temperature in Knoxville, TN

The most wintery weather lasts for just under three months, with the coldest temperatures ranging between November 29 to February 25. The average daily temperature for those days is below 55 °F, the coldest day being January 24 (average low of 30 °F and high of 48 °F). 


Here in Tennessee, we don’t experience much variation in precipitation – snowfall included. At most, we generally see around 0.19 inches of snow towards the end of January. 

Hours of Daylight & Twilight

Like anywhere else that undergoes a typical winter season, December 21st is the shortest day of the year, with 9 hours and 43 minutes of daylight. The latest sunrise is at 8:03 am on November 6, while the earliest sunset is at 5:21 pm on December 5. 


Humidity might very well be the most variable aspect of Tennessee weather. In the wintertime, humidity is virtually nonexistent, with December 27 being the least muggy day of the year. 

Key Takeaway

What does all of this mean? Although quite noticeable and present, winters in Tennessee are mild enough to allow you to transform your landscape into an enchanting garden. 

Tennessee Landscaping Ideas: Wintertime Tree Planting

Believe it or not, winter is one of the best times to plant trees because they’re not growing as actively as they would in the spring and summer. That puts less stress on you. Combined with the fact that winter weather in Tennessee is far more tolerable than, let’s say, a brutal Alaskan or New York winter, you have a pretty comfortable window to get a head start on your gardening. Another consideration is that most plants’ roots continue to grow during the winter months, helping them establish themselves before any summertime drought stress.

With that said, there are a few pointers to keep in mind for wintertime gardening in a Tennessee landscape. 

Winter Planting 101 for Your Outdoor Space

  • Dig Wider, Not Deeper – Trees settle into the soil as time passes. If you dig too deep, the ground will become too loose, and the tree will sink deeper into it. The deeper the tree falls into the soil, there’s greater the likelihood of its root collar getting buried, which can lead to oxygen deprivation and early death. Digging wider allows the tree’s roots to breathe and spread out further to acquire nutrients. 
  • Water the Soil LESS Frequently – Yes, winter does bring about drier air, and plants experience a slower winter growth rate. However, that’s precisely why they need less water. Due to their slower growth, they require less water, and you can induce root rot if you overwater them. Of course, different plants have different needs when it comes to water, so be sure to consider the species you’re growing as well.

Winter-Tolerant Plant Species

  • Winter Jasmine
  • Blue Spruce
  • Winter Gem Boxwood
  • Hellebore (a.k.a Lenten Rose)
  • Most any deciduous tree

Designing and Building Great Outdoor Features for Winter 

The average homeowner installs or adds backyard features to their landscape during the spring or summer. However, here in Tennessee, where winters are relatively mild and manageable, you can efficiently garden all twelve months. The lack of frigid temperatures and snow makes wintertime escapades quite enjoyable in your backyard, especially if you have the right features. 

Landscape Design Features for the Winter

  • Outdoor Firepits – Don’t confine yourself to an indoor fireplace – bring the fire out as well. Consider installing an outdoor fire pit, which you and your loved ones can sit around. You can build an outdoor firepit using various materials and multiple styles, and the fire itself provides the heat and ambience that’s a perfect complement to winter. 
  • A Hot Tub – Admittedly, this isn’t the most convenient or cheapest feature to install, but if you can make room for it, it’s something to consider. A hot tub can add some serious appeal to the backyard, but let’s not ignore the obvious – a hot tub in the winter is the perfect way to heat up when the air cools down. 
  • Add Some Colorful Plants – As we mentioned above, many plants can withstand the winter months’ colder temperatures. So take advantage of this by adding some colorful candidates. Think about adding evergreens and plants with bright bark and branches such as redtwig dogwood Japanese maple. 

Winter Landscaping Ideas for Homeowners Anywhere

Although the ideas I mentioned above were for Tennessee residents, keep in mind that some of them can work for people in other states (or countries) for that matter. 

Granted, if you routinely experience winter seasons where temperatures plummet below 14 °F, then you should probably stick with some alternatives. If you have the luxury of having a greenhouse, you can clean it before spring arrives. Your next option would be to try indoor winter “landscaping.” And there are lots of options in that regard. 

Indoor Winter Gardening Ideas

  • Grow Your Favorite Herbs Indoors – You can grow many of the herbs you buy at the grocery store on sunny counter space, such as basil, oregano, sage, or thyme. The flavorful and aromatic herbs you enjoy most may also improve your indoor air quality. 
  • Build birdhouses as a craft project – If attracting birds has been on your list, use the winter months’ time to get yourself ready. Build a birdhouse. A birdhouse is a simple and effective way to attract multiple bird species. The materials to construct them are affordable, and you can build one in a relatively short period. 

Landscaping Architecture Doesn’t Stop in the Wintertime.

Don’t fret about thinking that all gardening activities end when winter arrives. There’s still plenty you can do, especially if you live here in Tennessee with a mild winter climate. But even if you live in a region where the winters are brutal, you can still undertake indoor gardening projects to prep for the spring and summer seasons.

Because even in the presence of snow, nature makes it possible for plants to grow.

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