Designing with Yellow Conifers

Every garden needs conifers for structure, seasonal continuity and winter interest. Conifers are also play a vital role in a wildlife-friendly garden, providing shelter and food for birds and small mammals. Planting yellow, or gold needled, conifers adds another element to your garden – color!

Designing With Yellow Conifers

A garden full of yellow conifers can be jarring. They are best used alone as focal points, or perhaps three planted in a small group if your garden allows for such an indulgence. Yellow conifers add visual contrast in the sea of green found in many gardens. Planted in a partially shady areas, they can also add a welcome pop of color.

Yellow conifers bring out the best in plants with blue, lavender, orange and purple leaves and flowers. Typically, many yellow conifers prefer shelter from the intense afternoon sun and wind. Here’s a look at some favorite upright yellow conifers that are easy to add to almost any garden…

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Crippsii’

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Crippsii'A graceful, pyramidal conifer that shows its best color when planted in partial sun. With its feathery, scale-like needles, Crippsii has a light, almost fluffy, texture all year-long.

Size:  25′ x 10′

Zones:  5 – 8

Deer resistant:  Not reliably


Picea orientalis ‘Skylands’

Photo credit:  Jeff Rathje

Photo credit: Jeff Rathje

A slow-growing conifer with decidedly horizontal branches and short, stiff needles. Red pollen cones add another layer of interest to this tree. Skylands appreciates some protection from the afternoon sun and heat.

Size:  35′ x 15′

Zones:  4 – 7

Deer resistant:  Yes


Pinus wilichiana ‘Zebrina’

Pinus wilichiana 'Zebrina'

A funky upright conifer that looks a bit like a shaggy white pine. Soft, feathery needles have bands of yellow variegation that are best appreciated upclose.

Size:  30′ x 20′

Zones:  5 – 7

Deer resistant:  Yes

Do you have any yellow conifers in your garden?

12 thoughts on “Designing with Yellow Conifers

    • Judy, That really depends on the conifer and the local deer. Of the three I highlighted I’d say Crippsii is probably the least deer resistant. But I’d recommend asking a local nursery about their experiences with these plants before planting any of them.

  1. This is an interesting and informative post. I adore conifers and have several in my gardens…favorite yellow conifers are ‘Skylands’ Oriental Spruce, Crippsi Cypress and Golden Hinoki Cypress (either ‘Verdoni’ or ‘Aurea’). During our cold northeastern winters the golden yellow conifers really stand out in the garden and add even more color and structure in spring…love them!

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