|Here are some useful shrubs that can be used in a hedge and are designed for privacy all year round. Here are some examples ideal for direct sun/semi-shade.|
Laurus nobiles Bay tree, an evergreen shrub/tree that hedges very well, it can grow quite high in the right conditions, provides leaves and berries for Bolognaise sauce and most european hotpots. It has tiny star like green/cream flowers in Spring.
Strawberry tree, evergreen, like the laurus it hedges up nicely and gives little bell shaped cream hanging flowers in Autumn and berries which are tasty if ripe. In Portugal they make a clear Spirit from the berries called
Medrono which like Tequelia leaves you with a grin. The leaves are similar in shape and size to the Bay trees.
Both of these plants are child friendly and from my experience are very robust shrubs providing their roots are kept cool in direct sunlight, just mulch under the hedge or allow the hedge to shade it's own roots by growing it wider than 2ft.
Another shrub that could be grown alongside Laurus and Arbutus are Camelias, again it has similar shaped and sized leaves but provides those perfect pink flowers which they are
renowned for. Also you can make tea from its leading shoot leaves, although not as tall growing as Laurus and Arbutus it does hedge up very well.
These 3 shrubs share similar soil requirements (mildly acidic) and will grow anywhere except on chalky or limestone soils. Mulch under the hedge for the first 3 years and then they will establish quickly. They are best cut with secateurs to a semi- informal shape (rounded top) to show off their best attributes, they are slow growers so you do have to be patient. If grown as a specimen shrub (on their own) do not plant where the full strength sun burns down on them all day, as they can become stressed; but if grown in partial or semi shade conditions this is ideal. In a mixed hedge situation they tend to support and shade each other but for a perfect hedge some shade would be appreciated by the plants. So consider growing a light tree that will provide a contrasting 3D element to your beautiful hedge, something that will provide a contrast.
Choose a tree with similar shaped leaves and one that will give a gorgeous orange-red or yellow leaves in Autumn, Cherry trees (prunus) can give lovely colours in Autumn (but choose your species carefully or you'll end up with sterile flowers and no cherries) and the famous cherry blossom in Spring. If you want a change of leaf shape and pattern then try the quite rare native, Sorbus Torminalis(Wild Service Tree) the leaves are just the right size for a garden and turn beautiful shades of orange and warm brown and in a really good year scarlet and red. It also provides marble sized berries which are used for flavouring Ale and are edible. Alternatively Euonymous europaes gives brilliant red leaves in Autumn and some very pretty and unique fruit which is inedible but birds love, it is a very light tree growing to about 12ft tall.
Or there's the Amelanchier (June berry) This not only provides red, orange and scarlet leaves in the Autumn but gives tiny star like flowers in Spirng and edible berries at the end of June and once it has dropped its leaves the delicate shape is pleasing to the eye through the Winter months.
This is just one example of a hedge that would do a very good job in providing a
boundary hedge of 3 -4ft, it is totally child friendly without spines or poisonous berries and provide many useful pleasures, if you want a taller hedge then leave out the