Fashion in Hedges
I suppose there has to be fashion in everything and hedges are no exception.
The first desirable hedge that I remember was Leylandii: Everyone wanted to shut their neighbours out as quickly as possible. But they forgot that once they get up to six feet tall they seem to accelerate to about a hundred feet. There are lots of really good leylandii hedges, their owners trim them regularly and are rewarded with complete privacy.
Then there is the native hedge of hawthorn, blackthorn, holly etc: The wildlife's favourite, but in winter only the holly and ivy give any privacy and they are very prickly which is great for a field hedge.
So we come to laurel which is much more acceptable as a boundary between gardens. Great for privacy and it can be cut back severely if it gets too big. It can not be used in field boundaries as it is poisonous to cattle so farmers don't use it.
Then there is Western Red Cedar: It looks similar to leylandii, a bit lighter green and has a wonderful scent, somewhere between pineapple and pine (Government Health Warning: Trimming WRC can become addictive.). The big benefit is that it can be trimmed back severely if it gets a bit too big.
Then we have the old evergreen Yew: Yew is a bit slow growing but makes a marvellous evergreen barrier. The down side being that not only is it poisonous to cattle, but the berries are poisonous to humans too.
We must not forget Beech hedging: Beech although deciduous gives the privacy of an evergreen by keeping its dead leaves over the winter. Some people like the bronze winter look of beech and others hate it, but I think that it is a good boundary between gardens and fields. There is also Hornbeam which is vary similar to Beech, but the dead leaves are fawn in winter and it is happier in wet and clay soils.
The alternative to hedges round the garden is fence panels (or looking at your neighbours). But as everyone seems to grow plants up fence panels you might as well grow a hedge.