Color appreciation is largely a matter of personal preference, but there is science behind it, and it goes back to the great 17th-century physicist Sir Isaac Newton. His experiments with prisms led him to develop the color wheel, which is the tool that present-day designers use to combine colors.
A quick glance at a color wheel can tell you the colors that go with green and yellow, but you need a better definition of the words "go with." Do you want a relaxing combination or a dramatic one? Do you want a playful combination or a safe one that won't rock the boat? The information you need to decide is in Newton's wheel, and all it takes to extract it is a little geometry.
Yellow and Green in Combination is Soothing and Undramatic
The colors yellow and green are next to each other in the rainbow and on the color wheel. That makes them analogous, which means they have an undramatic, comfortable relationship. This is true for any two colors within 60 degrees of each other on the wheel. For example, the same relationship exists between blue and violet.
You can progress to a three-color analogous scheme by including a shade of brown to make a green/brown/yellow color scheme. Together, yellow and green are vibrant and bright. The addition of an earth tone adds grounding and makes the other colors appear more natural.
Choose Violet for Maximum Energy
Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are contrasting colors, and combining them creates visual energy. This is a complementary color combination. Shades of violet oppose both green and yellow, so you can use violet with either one to create a dramatic visual experience.
When you combine green and yellow together in an analogous scheme, you can contrast them with reddish-violet to make a split complementary combination, which is less dramatic and jarring than a straight complementary combination. On the wheel, you denote this with an isosceles triangle, which is one with two equal sides.
If you know the shades of yellow and green you're using, the line between them forms the base of the triangle. You can find the exact shade of violet to create the most effective combination by using a ruler to determine the apex.
Two Other Multicolor Combinations
You can combine either green or yellow with two or three other colors to create either a triadic or tetradic color scheme. A triadic combination won't work if you're committed to using both green and yellow, but a tetradic combination can work with yellow-orange and blue-green.
You derive a triadic combination by scribing an equilateral triangle on the color wheel with one of its apexes on the shade of yellow or green you're using. For example, green/orange/violet or yellow/red/blue. A triadic scheme is dramatic while still being harmonious. It's common in Southwest color design.
A tetradic scheme is one with four colors, and you determine them by drawing a rectangle on the color wheel with two of its corners on the shades of yellow and green you're using. An example would be yellow-orange/blue-green/red-orange and violet-blue. These are pairs of complementary colors, so the overall effect is the same as a complementary combination but with four colors.
Neutral Colors Go with Green and Yellow
The neutral colors — white, gray and black — work well in combination with green and yellow. White creates a bright scheme and black an intense one (think Jamaican flag).
Gray is a combination of all the other colors, and its actual shade depends on the concentrations of those colors. Grays that contain a lot of violet create the most contrast, while those with more green and yellow are more soothing.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.