Are conifers toxic? Information about 8 hedge plants and alternatives for children and pets

Conifers are wonderful hedge plants. They are evergreen, grow quickly and densely and thus serve as a privacy screen and decorative border all year round. In addition, they are comparatively easy to care for and thrive even with amateur gardeners without much experience or a green thumb. However, there is a possible disadvantage, because many conifers are toxic to animals and humans. Info about the popular hedge plants and safe alternatives for children and pets can be found here.


Conifers as hedge plants

Conifers popular as hedge plants include:

  • yew
  • Norway spruce
  • Japanese larch
  • Tree of Life – Thuja
  • Leyland cypress
  • cypress
  • Urweltmammutbaum
  • juniper

Leyland cypress

They are often found as privacy screens to create privacy in the garden. But also as a marking of the property boundary or to separate different areas from each other. However, it is not always ensured that the conifers can be poisonous and therefore pose a danger – especially for pets and small children. Because these can tear off and swallow parts of plants when playing or be tempted to snack by colored berries. For safety reasons, it should therefore at least be known whether the plants are poisonous and whether they should be avoided.


For a long time, yew trees were not allowed to be planted on streets, and even today they are not found in children’s playgrounds or too often in parks. The reason for this is the high toxicity of the yew. Ingestion of plant parts can be fatal for both humans and animals. Even small amounts are sufficient.

Yew trees are particularly dangerous for toddlers and the like due to their bright red fruits. They look like fruity delicacies, but due to the taxin they contain, they can quickly lead to severe symptoms of poisoning.

Yew with yew fruit

Norway spruce

The spruce stings, the fir does not – is a common saying. Even if the Norway spruce is a stinging matter, it is non-toxic and therefore a completely harmless hedge plant. In addition, it is very purchasing Cheap. However, the spruce is not very tolerant of cuts. If it is cut too radically, holes may remain that will never overgrow again. Appropriate caution is therefore required when caring for them.

Spruce with green and brown pine cones

Japanese larch

The Japanese larch becomes a large tree without any pruning, which can reach heights of 25 to 30 meters. With a regular cut, however, it is wonderfully suited as a hedge plant. moreover they are ideal for gardens where children and pets play – because the Japanese larch is not poisonous.


tree of life

The tree of life – also known as thuja – is particularly popular as a hedge plant. It is quite resistant and well tolerated by cut, grows densely and is evergreen. However, the tree of life is poisonous in all parts and therefore not the best choice for gardens in which toddlers and pets are and play.

Thuja, tree of life

Leyland cypress

The Leyland cypress is ideal for dense, high hedges. It can keep gaze and wind away, provide shade and also grows extremely quickly. Unfortunately, the Leyland cypress is dangerous due to its poison content. It should therefore only be used as a hedge plant if pets and small children can really be kept away from it.


Just like the Leyland cypress, the false cypress is one of the conifers that are wonderfully suited to planting a hedge. It quickly becomes high and opaque, tolerates blends well and also has a very decorative look. However, the toxicity of leaves, fruits and bark is also a potential danger.



The primeval sequoia is usually not poisonous, but larger quantities can be problematic and produce signs of intoxication. For small children and pets who only accidentally tear off plant parts, the plants do not pose a great danger. Pets such as guinea pigs, rabbits, goats, horses and sheep should be kept away from the green.



Juniper is one of the evergreen plants, it grows densely, is adaptable and has a high resistance. Together with the aromatic fragrance and its easy-care nature, it is ideal as a hedge plant. Unfortunately, leaves and berries are also slightly toxic. Sensitive organisms can therefore react strongly to small amounts. If larger amounts are ingested, signs of intoxication are possible.

Small children and pets should not have unhindered access to these plants. A short contact to the plant parts is usually harmless.

Juniper bush with juniper berries

Non-toxic alternatives

Even though conifers have many advantages as a hedge – the plants are often poisonous. Therefore, they should be treated with caution or avoided altogether if small children and pets cannot be safely kept away from them.

The following types are available as alternative and non-toxic hedge plants:

  • Alpine currant
  • bamboo
  • beech
  • Feldahorn
  • garden hibiscus
  • hornbeam
  • Heckenrosen
  • Rotfichte
  • blackthorn
  • hawthorn
  • Crab apples

Bamboo as a hedge plant

Our tip: It doesn’t always have to be a hedge. A green fence – for example with ivy – also protects against unwanted looks and requires very little maintenance.


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Christina Cherry
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